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Depending on the Internet

Posted 10/20/2016

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  Looking back, it is hard to remember how we all managed without the internet--but clearly we did. We also managed without cell phones and ATMs and microwaves. On a smaller level, we managed to tie, not Velcro, our sneakers and to tell time from a non-digital watch. Some months ago, I passed on a lovely old watch to my daughter. The face is so small that I can barely read it, and I knew she had always loved it. She called me a few days later to tell me that it wasn't working. "Did you wind it?" I asked. "Wind it???" she answered. Oy.

  As cancer patients we are often especially dependent on the internet. We may communicate with our health care providers by email or Patient Site or some other institution-specific system. We probably search for information about our particular disease or treatment or drugs, and we may connect with others through various support networks or social media. Losing this connection is traumatic!

  As Susan Gubar writes about here:

Unplugged and Unmoored
Living With Cancer

Inside our new condo, the internet connection had failed. Two young men, sent by the cable company, had
spent hours burying a cable to replace an antiquated line running into the building. As soon as they drove off,
nothing worked anymore: not the landline, not the television, not the internet.
When I wasn’t on the iPhone with the cable company during the next days — punching in numbers,
interminably on hold, explaining that yes, I had plugged and unplugged — I realized that I could do without
the television and the landline, but the loss of the web was harrowing. I worried: How could I, as a cancer
patient, manage to exist without internet access?
All of my scheduling with the research nurse in charge of the clinical trial in which I participate occurs
electronically. She sends me the dates and times of appointments as well as reminders about where to go for
tests; then she emails me results. Once when I was terribly ill, I texted her in alarm and she phoned my local
pharmacy with a prescription that did the trick. Now my email wasn’t even working on my cellphone. We
were disconnected.
Throughout seven years of cancer treatment, I had emailed my oncologist with questions. Of course I
limited myself to crucial problems, but knowing that I could rely on her expertise gave me a wonderful sense
of security.

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