By Dawn DeBois
When starting the home training process for subcutaneous immune globulin (SCIG) administration, the nursing service is very clear that patients should plan on administering their weekly SCIG when someone is home with them in case of a reaction. This is a doable plan for those who are married or have others who live with them. But in my case, I live alone. However, I wasn't going to allow the fact that I live alone stop me from transitioning to SCIG, so I decided to take advantage of an interest-free payment option from my wireless carrier and invest in an Apple watch.
As a single disabled person, an extravagant purchase such as an Apple watch had to be mulled over and justified. The Emergency SOS feature on the Apple watch was the deciding factor since I knew I'd be infusing alone and could possibly have a reaction that would necessitate a call to emergency services. By simply pressing the side button, it starts the process of calling emergency services, and when the call ends, it will send a text message to the emergency contacts of the individual's location. This gave me and my training nurse enough security to feel safe about performing my weekly infusions alone, knowing my local EMS located just blocks away was simply a tap away on my wrist.
As a GenXer, I've always been considered an "early adopter" of technology among my friends. This is because I have millennial children who have always been techies who keep me from falling behind on the latest technological advances. However, take it from me, even the best technology does not work well if it's not properly employed.
I began administering SCIG at home two months prior to the pandemic in 2020. In March, during the COVID-19 lockdown, I was worried about my adult sons and their workplace situations. While there wasn't a lot I could say since they were making their own decisions, I still listened and internalized all that the lockdown entailed for us. Taking in enormous amounts of stress is not good for anyone, let alone those of us with chronic health conditions. It was on the fateful night of March 21, 2020, that I woke up with my beautiful new Apple watch on and not feeling well. Fearing getting sick to my stomach was going harm my new watch, I took it off and placed it on my dresser, glancing at the time as I did.
My time spent in the bathroom concluded with a vasovagal syncope (fainting) episode that landed me flat on my face on tile and hardwood floors, knocking me out for well over 45 minutes. My Apple watch would have paged EMS with its fall detection service had I still been wearing it. I'm fortunate that I came to on my own. However, I would have received much better immediate care had I come to with EMS at my side and them take me to the emergency room instead of dangerously driving myself once the stunned concussed haze lightened some hours later.
March is brain injury awareness month. As I look back on the year following my brain injury, which was the most trying time of my life, I want to encourage everyone with chronic illness, especially those living alone, to consider purchasing a device with EMS connection services such as an Apple watch. Please wear it, not only when infusing, but especially when you do not feel well. If you don't wear it, it can't help you when you most need it.