Technology and Being a Patient

I am sitting in the chemotherapy treatment lab, with about 5 other patients. I have been surprised at how busy this place is – I had no idea that this many people were dealing with cancer in this area. Every time I have come in here there have been 10 – 20 people in the waiting room.

This is not new news, but I have been reflecting recently on how technology has changed the experience of being a patient. As soon as I found out I had cancer, I immediately went to the web and began reading as much as I could about it. My neighbor is a doctor, and he also pulled some information off of the web for me. By the time I first met with the oncologist, I already knew the terms and could speak fairly intelligently about my test results. As he talked with me about those results, I understood more than I would have, as I had been exposed to the new terms already, and had looked up those that I wasn’t familiar with.

Then there is the chemotherapy treatment lab. Here I sit, in a recliner, with my laptop on my lap, connected to the Internet. I have already done some work, answered some e-mails, and of course am blogging from this “comfy chair” (a reference for those Monty Python fans out there…). Except for the I/V in my arm, and the few strangers walking around in this room, this is much the same as when I work from home. Not exactly what I would have expected chemotherapy to be.

The availability of information and the widespread connectivity available today certainly makes the experience of being a patient much different than it once was. I wonder if the doctors find that a help or a nuisance.

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