The last couple of weeks have been terrible for Brian. His wife was diagnosed with cancer and it had already spread to other organs by the time it was found. She’s been in a Birmingham hospital getting treatment and Brian has spent much of his time at the hospital with her.
Late Monday afternoon, he returned home from the hospital, but he never made it into the house. Based on what was put together the next day, he had a stroke as he walked from his car to his house. He fell and laid unconscious in his yard — for almost a full day.
When Brian didn’t show up for work Tuesday, everybody noticed, but nobody panicked until late that afternoon. They knew his wife was in a hospital, so they thought something might have gotten worse for her. But when nobody could get it touch with him — and his wife knew nothing — someone from work called and asked police to check on him.
Police had to cut the lock on the gate which protected his driveway — and then they found him lying on the ground, completely unresponsive. He had been there in the cold alone for almost 24 hours.
He’s still in a hospital Thursday night — a different one than his wife — and he might never return to work. He can’t talk and can barely gesture, although he can write in order to communicate some basics.
Brian’s story scared me, because that could have just as easily been me. Anybody can have a sudden medical emergency, but it’s worse if you live alone. If I were to suffer a heart attack or stroke or just a bad fall, how long would it take for someone to notice I wasn’t where I was supposed to be?
I’ve thought about this a lot over the years when I’ve lived alone, but Brian’s story has me thinking about it — and concerned enough about it — that I ordered an Apple Watch tonight.
When smartwatches first came out a few years ago, I had absolutely no interest in them. They seemed like tech toys to me. Some of what they did seemed neat, but nothing seemed really necessary.
But then the new health-oriented features of this year’s Apple Watch came out. It can monitor basic health, but it also can alert you if it detects anomalies with your heart. It can even do a rudimentary ECG which you can send to your doctor.
I’ve always taken good health for granted, largely because I’ve always felt perfectly healthy. Even though I allowed my weight to get out of control over the last decade, I had still felt remarkably good.
But if technology can monitor things in my body which would otherwise go undetected, the technology looks more appealing. I’ve been wavering ever since the Apple Watch Series 4 was announced about whether it was worth the money.
Brian’s experience this week pushed me into making the decision to get one. If he had been wearing an Apple Watch and had it configured for emergencies, the watch would have called for an ambulance after he fell and then didn’t respond that he was OK.
Since the Apple Watch has come out, the media has been filled with stories about people who credit it with saving their lives. Among many others, there are examples here and here and here and here. I don’t want to be one of those stories, but I’d rather that happen than for me to die alone — or just to lie unconscious after an accident because nobody knew I needed help.
I’m grateful that Brian is going to be OK. I’m not that close to him, but we used to work together and he’s a good man. It’s hard for me to imagine what it felt like when he was outside alone that night — and the next day — in cold weather. I hope for his sake that he wasn’t conscious for any of it.
I’ve been taking my health more seriously for the last few months. I’m eating better and trying to get myself back into the shape where I was a decade or so ago. I intend to take care of myself well enough that I’ll be here for many, many years to come. The Apple Watch I ordered tonight is just the next stage of that process.
Note: Apple published the video below to showcase the stories of several people who credit the Apple Watch with saving their lives. The man who told the story of the watch alerting him to a problem which turned out to be blood clots in his lungs really hit home for me — since I had the same issue several years ago.