There is one man whose life has forever changed my own. Steve Jobs was a creative entrepreneur who died on October 5, 2011. I sustained a traumatic brain injury 3 years earlier, and I felt a deep sense of loss for this man who I’ve never met.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I haven’t used a product he created. Prior to the car crash, I received an iPhone while working at Hunter Public Relations. This device was a means of staying connected to my staff, clients and important press whom I wooed on my clients’ behalf.
I had no idea it would become an instrumental tool for the extensive recovery that lay ahead.
My grief was so great for this American icon. I sent a message to RememberingSteve@apple.com along with millions of people across the world. It was an essay titled “How My iPhone Helps My Traumatic Brain Injury” and I now read it to a staff member every time I entire an Apple store.
Rereading that essay, made me realize I still use may of those strategies today but in different incarnations. Here are the most useful for me, and maybe they can be helpful to others in some form:
1.) Alarms: they reminded me to take medication twice daily. At that time, this was the most important contribution to my recovery because medication was central to keeping me emotionally stable. The Marimba ringtone became such a theme song in my household, that whenever it went off everyone would say in unison “AM Pills!” Or when were out in a restaurant, “PM Pills!” I usually snoozed the reminder until I returned home to my pillbox. Now it reminds me to take my vitamins, and when I have appointments. i often create an alarm for things I think I might forget, so it’s chirping, dinging and ringing all throughout the day.
2.) iCal: the phone’s calendar kept track of all the appointments. When I returned to New York City, there were a dizzying number of doctor and therapy sessions to manage. At that time, it felt as if I had more appointments then during my days as a Vice President. Perhaps the most valuable feature of this calendar, were the alerts I’d set twice for each appointment that undoubtedly forget otherwise. I may have fewer doctor appointments but I still rely on the iCal to keep my week organized and running smoothly.
Excuse me, an alarm just reminded me to take an afternoon vitamin.
3.) Webster Direction: When I experienced aphasia and had a word at the tip of my tongue, I use the Webster Direction application and feel less insecure about communicating with friends.
Along with the helpful tools that I’ve developed, my iPhone has also allowed me to hold on to cherished memories that I otherwise wouldn’t have after the car crash.
Rich’s last words on my iPhone was the last text I ever received on the day he died. It was sent on July 31st 2008 and it concluded 5 days worth of conversation. His last words were “Your body is a wonderland”.
The iPhone is a tool I will probably use daily for the rest of my life.