Technology and A-A-Ron

As I’m in my month off of treatment, I have plenty of time to think about anything and  everything. Today’s thoughts were about the role of technology in my journey with A-A-Ron.  This should not be surprising to anyone who knows that I’m a human factors engineer…I can’t turn off my focus on technology and the design of the world around me.  So here are some of the ways that technology has been part of this journey:

  • I took an Uber to the emergency room when I went to the hospital. I had to Google where the closest hospital was and then called an Uber to take me there because I knew I was in no condition to drive.
  • I had the CT scan that first identified the large mass and ruled out a stroke and the MRI that gave us further clarification on A-A-Ron. Both of those were first time interesting experiences for me and it is clear that the design of those is on the data and not the user experience of the patient at all.
  • The picture that is the default for my blog with the rainbow pictures of my brain is an actual photo of the technology in use during my surgery. I specifically requested something and that was a cell phone photo that someone took and sent to me. You can see A-A-Ron, plus the thing stuck in my head to suck him out.  It’s pretty fascinating to look at, and someone has even suggested if you look closely you can see the profile of a face in A-A-Ron.
  • I actually joined Facebook after my surgery, probably mainly because I was so high on steroids. I have since appreciated reconnecting with a few people I had lost touch with and using it to post my blog…but also see that I haven’t been missing all that much all these years not on it.
  • My attempts to use the accessibility features of Google, my Samsung phone, my Samsung tablet, and Facebook were extremely frustrating given that the whole point is they are supposed to help people with limited abilities. Let me say that I was extremely disappointed in the functionality available to me and definitely plan to focus some of my efforts in that area in the future.
  • I have come to greatly appreciate the simple features on my phone, like the alarms, to help me with medication reminders.
  • Mom learned of the value of GoogleMaps on her phone and her life is completely changed now.
  • Clearly the radiation machines were a huge part of my treatment. Interestingly, there were multiple times that the machines were down, for one reason or another.  Software glitches. There was even a rumor that someone hacked into them at one point…which honestly, how sick is that? Their own purpose is to treat people with cancer…that’s just inexcusable.

I have spent some time thinking about what else might have helped me through this process or what might me more now as I continue with this process.  This is, of course, where I will be reaching out to my colleagues and in some cases already have. It’s one thing to study people in various situations and empathize and it’s another altogether to be immersed into a  crazy A-A-Ron experience and realize that empathy can only get you so far.  So many possibilities to improve the experiences of people who are dealing with unexpected life events!

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