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My digitized me — no, really!!

Summer break is typically a time for vacations — unless you’re an academic, who is so over committed and behind schedule that any thought of a vacation is out of the question. It seems I use a good deal of my summer working on personal health care issues. This summer. I’ve gone through the usual round of scheduled appointments with cardiologists, endocrinologists, audiologists, physical therapists, and (to make matters a little bit more interesting) a new primary care physician.

I know it is reasonable to expect one’s body to fall apart bit by bit after 60 or so (and I am now three years past that critical point), but there is something different in this process as we move increasingly into the “digitized” age.

The first step took place a year or so ago when I was shifted to an insulin regimen and began to “upload” my readings into a computer program, which then provided me with suggested dosage numbers, as well as a measure of my relative progress. A week or so ago, we (the docs and my health insurer, who seems to have more control over my life than I do) decided to put me on an insulin pump which will hopefully bring down my blood glucose numbers to more appropriate levels over the long run. There was nothing critical or urgent in suggesting the move to the pump, but I had “leveled off” and seemed ready to take it “down” a few notches. (Little hope of total control, but there has certainly be some progress.)

Earlier today I received word that the “pump” was “approved” by my assigned private insurers “death panel” and all that digital gadgetry is on its way from California. I will soon have more radio signals flashing around my body as the pump (secured on a waistband and tethered to my body by an injected 9mm sharp linked to a two foot tube that conveys the insulin every five minutes or so) communicates with my blood glucose meter. Gosh, doesn’t that sound exciting?

Textbook version of high frequency hearing loss

Then there was my appointment at the audiologist this afternoon who made official what all my family, friends and students have known for years — I can’t hear worth a damn! (Well actually I can, if you make a noise within my limited range of good hearing….) For the third or fourth time in my life I failed the hearing test with flying colors, although the slope on the “audiogram” has gotten increasingly steeper. (I forgot to ask for a copy of the audiogram, but the one below is pretty close to what mine looked like. It seems like both ears are engaged in a “race to the bottom”….)

When I failed these tests in the past I considered and even tried out hearing aids — but the technology (analog) and the “ear stuffing” plugs moulded into the ear did not “sit well” and I soon surrendered to life as an annoying spouse, father, colleague, teacher, etc.

Well now we have seemingly moved onto the digital age in hearing aids — or I guess we have finally gotten to point where digital options are reasonable (benefit-cost ratio was just not right in the past). Looking at my options, it seems I can get a pair (yes, I need two) that not only allows for adjustments in what you hear and how you hear it, but also uses Bluetooth technology and can now “connect me” to my iPhone (which will remain in my pocket), my iPod, my TV and computer, etc etc.

I am not getting a hearing aid — rather I am getting a multifuntional set of Bose-like headphones!!!

Actually, I wonder how my body is going to adjust to the bombardment of Bluetooth signals that comes from the pump and the hearing aids….

I was amazed at how quickly they arranged for my “fitting” — tomorrow afternoon. Now that indicates that they’ve determined my hearing loss is so bad that I pose an immediate danger to my fellow humans, or they are desperate to get my $3000 or so (no coverage from the good old health insurers….)

Of course this also means that I will have to share my comments and observations with as many of you who decide to follow this blog….

August 13th, 2009 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments