PDA's Can Help Manage Our Fibromyalgia

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by pearls, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. pearls

    pearls New Member

    Have you used a personal digital assistant (one of those very small, truly portable computers) to help with cognitive fibromyalgia problems? While I was reading an article about how PDA's can help with genealogy, I was struck by how this technology might be of immense help with our memory problems and all the rest (providing we don't lose the darn thing!).

    The article, "12 Things You Can Do With a PDA That You Can't Do With Any Other Computer," is online at Ancestry. They include the following:

    1) Photo Album
    2) Compass
    3) Travel Log
    4) Newspaper
    5) Book
    6) Alarm
    7) Games
    8) Shooping List
    9) Checklist
    11)MP3 Player

    The article includes a paragraph for each item listed. Briefly,If you carry a PDA, you can keep pictures of your family or whomever in the thing; along with GPS equipment, use it as a compass to find exact spots; and record the "global address" (though the author didn't use that phrase) so you can record and find that exact spot again.

    With your PDA, you can also read the newspaper if you also subscribe to a free source for various periodicals (website given in the article); read books (also free at that website); use it as an alarm, such as reminders to take medicine: and play games.

    In addition, you can keep your shopping list on the PDA; keep checklists or other notes; make outlines for speaking at meetings; download songs and play them using added equipment; and with additional equipment, send and receive email - and even (though s l o w l y) browse some web sites.

    Wow! Think of the possibilities for us! I'll quickly set aside numbers 1, 7, and 11. Now here are ones that excite me:

    #2 and #3) Using a PDA/GPS interface, we could find the global address of a place (recorded as longitude and latitude - but specific down to within a few feet!), record that global address, and find it again anytime we want. The global address is independent of street names and addresses, and is used by airplane and ship pilots, and increasingly by everyone else. Why not fibromyalgia sufferers for our specific problems? (Some of this was not in the article. My son, who is an ecologist, uses GPS in the field.)

    #4 and #5) How many hours have you sat in doctor's offices with nothing to do or read? Some offices have precious little to read and all you can do is sit there! With your PDA and a subscription, you'll always have something to read, even for long waits in the examination room.

    #6) The article even specifically mentioned using the alarm feature for medication reminders. But beyond that, how about using us to remind us to do chores, to go to the doctor, or pick up our prescriptions, or even to rest (which more than one FMS doc has said is the hardest thing to accomplish in managing this disease)?

    #8) Shopping list: I've actually been working out a way to use my table-top computer to help me keep track of what I need to buy at various stores. I thought it would be easy. So far, my scribblings on backs of envelopes is about as effective as my computer solutions. But I don't like my envelope shopping lists! My handwriting is horrible, and I forget things to put on the list! The portability of the PDA might be the key.

    #9 Checklists as stress-reducers were mentioned in today's Pro Health, "Tip of the Day." Stress is one of the major things that can bring about flares. With the PDA, our lists can be archived. We could keep checklists of "Things to Do," for instance. We could also keep records of how we feel each day, where we hurt, how it hurts, and what seems to bring it on.

    #10) For some of us, making outlines may seem far from what we'll need to do right now, and the article was referring to using the PDA to help when people had to speak to audiences. However, I think using the PDA to help with our doctor visits has a lot of potential.

    Using the PDA, prepare for the doctor visit in advance. In the order of importance, list the several things you wish to bring up at your visit. Later, if you think of something else you wish to insert, you can easily make that change on the PDA. Then, either during or right after the visit, put in the doctor's response to the points you've brought up, as well as other things discussed during the visit. Then you'll have a record of the visit.

    In addition, I think it would be great to move or copy my medications list onto a PDA. I always try to take a list of my medications, the dosages, what each one is for, and the date I started on each medication to each doctor visit. It is sorted into meds I take each day, those I take when necessary, and others I keep on hand. On page 2, I keep tabs on all medications I've discontinued, along with the information I keep for my active meds. My doctors love it. If I could keep this list on my PDA, it would give me the capability to make changes right in the doctor's office, before I forget to do so (which has happened a lot). It also allows me to access the list if I've forgotten to bring it.

    I'd love to keep my lists of tests and surgeries, as well as my family medical history on my PDA, too, for the same reasons given for keeping the meds list there.

    # 12) It might be a stretch to say that using email on a PDA will help us anymore than using it on a standard computer. But it could be used the same way reading the newspaper or a book on your PDA can be used. Also - though it doesn't necessairly apply to PDA's, - one of my doctors used to let me communicate with him about my health problems via email. Now, THAT was convienient!

    What do you think? Do you have anything to add or anything to point out?

    Hugs and all that stuff! <Grin>

  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    If you want to use the features which require you to be online, you have to choose between wi-fi and the berry. Berries use cell phone technology, but you can use up a whole month's allotment of hours if you access one large file because the cell phone companies charge by the kilobyte.

    If you opt for wi-fi, you will have to find a hot spot. Hot spots are growing like crazy, so this is probably the way to go. Both the berries and wi-fi will allow online access without having to physically hook up to the web.

    PDA's are expensive if you want all the features mentioned above. You will have to decide if this is worth it. If money is no object, I agree that the PDA's are wonderful. I have wi-fi in my home for my laptop which allows me to use it anywhere without having to be wired into anything. It is wonderful and allows me to use my computer in more comfortable areas. If I wanted to haul it around with me, I could use it anywhere there is a hot spot. A PDA is much smaller to haul around than a laptop.

    I suspect most of us will utilize pen and paper to make notes to ourselves and will continue to use our computers to check our e-mail, at least until the cost of these gadgets and monthly service charges come down.

    Love, Mikie
  3. pearls

    pearls New Member

    I appreciate this information. It will certainly help me when I do buy a PDA, which I will. I like to look to the future, and think the aspects of it that are expensive will continue to come down in price as have most things classified under the title, "Technology." I remember when my son's GPS unit, for example, had to be borrowed because it cost $13,000 and was quite large and unwieldy. Once he was equipped with his GPS, his laptop, and other items he needed in the field, he was quite a sight!

    As to carrying things around with me, I've developed a system. I carry all my stuff in a big tote bag, with a tiny purse inside. If I have to walk around a mall, for instance, I only carry the little purse and keep the tote in the car. My cell phone gets transferred from a pocket on my tote bag into my purse, but my meds stay only in my purse, for instance. Anyway, what's to make any difference if I carry a PDA in the tote along with my water, heat wraps, hairbrush, magazines, notebook, extra pens and pencils, safety pins, and extra change? Hey! Actually,I should have used the phrase, "instead of," rather than "along with!" I could leave my magazines and notebook at home. (I carry a lot of that sort of stuff.)

    Anyway, I don't need all the features I mentioned on my own PDA. I'll just use what I need to do my genealogy (if I can get back into it again now that I'm retired), and some for my fibromyalgia.

    I'm not a techo-freak, but I've always been interested in possibilities. I know someone who has had a stroke and who struggles to speak, whose social life has been drastically cut, and who is lonely. It's painful to try to hold a conversation with him so I'm sure many of his former friends would rather not try. I think a computer would open up a whole world to him. He could belong to a board like this, perhaps, or converse with others via email where his slowness and struggle is not a factor. But his wife isabsolutely set against having a computer in her house. I think she's heard a lot of horror stories and also thinks she can't afford it.

    Then there's some of the newer ideas that are being worked on right now for people with spinal problems and the like. Technology may be the key for almost literally saving their lives, helping them out of wheelchairs, beds, and dependence.

    Anyway, there must be ways we can harness technology to make our fibro-lives easier. It's come full circle for me, you know. I had to quit my then extensive use of the computer when I got my fibromyalgia. I was heavily involved with helping others with their genealogy via computer at the time, and it was just too much for me. After awhile, I discovered this wonderful board, so I'm back to using the computer - this time for support with my fibromyalgia.


  4. daylilyfan

    daylilyfan New Member

    I have a Palm Zire 71. I never would have bought one, but when I bought my new IMac, it came with a promotion where I practically got it for free. I actually got the Palm Zire (which is black and white), liked it so well I traded it in for a color model).

    It has a little camera, which I have only used a couple of times. It syncs with my Mac at home so I never lose data, even if the Palm gets ripped off.

    I absolutely love it. I don't go anywhere without it. Best thing ever for fibro fog. I have shopping lists in it for all the stores I go to. Have lists for different doctors - so if I am somewhere and think.... I should ask Dr. Z about that medication.. I whip out the palm, and jot it down. My Dr's seem to love it.

    I do keep a list of medications and show it to the nurses and they just copy it down.

    The alarm setting is great for taking catnaps.

    I keep a sort of journal of days I feel good/bad and symptoms. I also keep an exercise log. Since these sync with my Mac at home, they are also easy to print out.

    I keep all my phone numbers, addresses, etc in it also. I had all of them in a database on my Mac already, and was able to transfer them over to the palm really easy. Now, no matter where I am, I have anyone's phone number if needed. Even has a decent dictionary in it. Has a calculator, birthday reminder, date book... bill minder, expenses recorder, all kinds of stuff. The software for it you can get online is usually pretty cheap.

    Mine also came with a year's free Boomerang - which I upgraded to the 10 years for 10 dollars. Boomerang sent me 2 key tags, a couple luggage tags, several stickers to put on digtial camera, palm pilot etc. If you lose them, and someone finds them, they call an 800 number on the tag or label, and get a reward to send them to Boomerang which returns them to you.

    I'm not a techno nut, but I love my Palm.
  5. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    I agree; the technology is amazing and growing by leaps and bounds. I will not doubt eventually go the PDA or berry route later on. The advantage of the berries is that they take the place of cell phones, laptops, and pagers. I think major companies will be the real users of these.

    For most of us PDA's are probably the way to go.

    I'm already using technology to make my life easier. In addition to the wi-fi I mentioned above, I have one of those little Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners. I just turn it on and let it do the day-to-day vacuuming. It doesn't do the deep cleaning which needs done now and then, but it sure keeps the floors clean in between. Shirl is the one who turned me on to this amazine gadget. I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond with the 20 percent off coupon which made it very reasonable.

    I'm no techie either, but I learn what I have to to get along with all this hi-tech stuff.

    Pearl, I think you are right about this friend. It would open up a world outside his home for him.

    Love, Mikie
  6. pearls

    pearls New Member

    Wow. What is "reasonable" for the Roomba? I've read warnings for those with FMS against the repetitive motion of vacuuming. I can't remember who or where. They've said to only do it a few times with each hand and that's all. I can't imagine actually vacuuming for only a few times with each hand! Gee! If I had one of those I could actually vacuum every day. I hate to tell you how much square footage I have to care for myself.

    Daylilyfan, I am very interested that you've found a PDA helpful already. I also heard about having a built-in camera. For a person doing genealogy, that could be really worth it, since a good one with close-up capacity would allow one to take pictures of old ancestor photos. I can't think of how that might help a fibromyalgic, though.

    I'm thinking that if I buy a PDA, I may want to tether it to my tote bag! Perhaps I should do the same thing with my cell phone. I'm forever losing things. I lost my car keys four times last year - once for good - and had to have another set made for my car. I never used to lose my keys. I've managed to keep them with me nowadays mostly because they're now kept on one of those spiral, plastic wrist bands. When the keys are not on my wrist, they must be hanging on a hook or in a particular place in my purse.

    By the way, ladies. My husband just told me that one of the new PDA's will be coming out with a built-in GPS! What will they think of next? His opinion of the PDA's is that you need to get one that's top of the line, that the cheap ones aren't worth it. I haven't heard why yet, though.


    [This Message was Edited on 08/26/2003]