Why I Find 'Life' in My Phone Due to My Chronic Illness

When I was working, my husband always used to stir me about having my iPhone strapped to my ear almost 24/7. He wasn’t exaggerating either!

The other night, while I was sitting up in bed frantically tapping away on my smart phone, I paused for a moment and looked up at my husband who was enjoying a show on TV, which we were both supposed to be watching. I was listening to it but I definitely wasn’t watching it in the relaxed manner I should be as a person, “medically retired.” Life in my phone was just way too exciting and compelling to put it down.

I laughed and said, “Do you know what? I’ve just realized I have a whole world inside this phone that is buzzing with activity, and I think it’s even busier in there than my life was when I was working.” Thankfully he laughed, too.

It got me thinking though about whether that is a good thing or not, and I started to do a pros and cons list in my head, as I do when I am grappling with something.

Good news is (for me anyway)….the pros list won! Under normal circumstances, with a healthy body, I would probably recommend to put the phone down, go out and do something wonderful and live a full active life. Or, maybe, just have it handy incase of an important call or text.

Seriously though, that kind of life and activity is just not possible for me living with my chronic diseases and disability. So the life within my phone actually opens a whole world to me that is exciting, as I sail across the ocean and speak to others in different countries, or chat with friends close by. I can connect with others battling serious and complex diseases and provide them comfort while also finding comfort from their words of wisdom and kindness to me.

That kind of connection is priceless and so special. In online support forums for chronic illness, we probably share more with each other than we do with our closest friends and family. The connections are genuine, raw and real.

I feel blessed to be living with a disability in an era where this kind of connection is possible. Imagine the isolation others felt in times past, not really all that long ago, without the kind of communications we have at our fingertips today.

The pro list is definitely strong.

The con list does exist though. The main one being, I get way too tired as I get so involved in what I’m doing in my “life in my phone.” I struggle to put it away and just stop and allow my brain and body to completely rest. I always thought if I was resting my body it would be fine to keep my brain super active, but I’ve actually found that if my brain gets too tired, my physical pain increases. A balance is really important.

I do, surprisingly, have a few tips to try and get the balance right. Remember, though, that these are tips for people with chronic diseases who are disabled to a point where getting out and about is difficult and their “life” really is in their phone, so it’s absolutely a positive activity for them! The balancing act is a work in progress for me, so if any of my chronic disease friends have any tips to add, please let me know.

Tip One: Schedule quiet rest times that are phone free during the day. For some, even 30 minutes can be enough just to rest your brain and dial down physical pain levels.

Tip Two: Get your head out of the phone at least for every 15 mins in an hour. If able, use this time to stretch your body, go into the garden, speak to your partner (oops, probably should have put that first), or make a cup of coffee.

Tip Three: Don’t feel guilty about using your phone. It’s how those of us with chronic debilitating disease can best connect with others, in what would otherwise be a pretty lonely existence. It’s a positive tool in many circumstances in life but particularly under these circumstances.

Tip Four: When you are ready to turn the lights out at night, or even 30 minutes before that time, turn your phone to silent. I have my phone beside my bed so that when I do wake up in the morning, I can start checking emails, messages, Facebook, and forums, while I’m waiting for my pain meds to kick in. You don’t want a buzzing phone by your ear during the night. Remember many of those with chronic diseases can’t sleep well, and will be quite active on their phones during the night. If you are able to sleep and don’t want to be disturbed, make sure your phone is on silent. Your partner will thank you, too!

Above all, enjoy the wonderful connections that await us each and every day in the “land of our phones.”

Now it’s time for me to put the phone down and have a good 30 minute rest.

I’ll definitely be back soon, though.

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