I’ve been an Apple user since my senior year of high school. And before that I was an iPhone user — and before that, an iPod user, and by iPod I mean the literal brick that was the first generation iPod Classic.
Apple has served me well, especially when it came out with the iPhone, which increased my independence by, like, 200 percent. It allowed me to go on walks around the neighborhood by myself or with my service dog, Lexi — and more importantly it allowed me to stop toting my Mom’s old Walkman around. Plus, there are the dozens of iterations of “Brie’s Faves” that I burned onto every CD we had, rewritable or otherwise. So when I decided a few months ago to switch from Apple to — well, whatever wasn’t Apple, it was a big step.
I started thinking about it a few weeks before we left on my Amtrak Residency. Google had somehow managed to nail me with an ad for their version of Amazon’s Echo, the Google Home. I could purportedly hook up to the Google Assistant, its version of Siri, thereby allowing me to control pretty much everything with my voice. I did some research and found out that, among other things, I could control my TV with my voice, my bedroom lights, and my space heater. Essentially everything in my room could be hooked up to the Google Home.
Researching the Google Home naturally led me to Google’s other products, like its version of the iPhone, the Google Pixel, and its version of the Apple TV, Google Chromecast. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about losing my iPhone, but I knew that Android as an OS would be far more accessible than Apple.
I quickly discovered that if I connected the right Bluetooth module to my wheelchair, I could control a mouse cursor on my phone screen with my joystick. This would pretty much revolutionize how I used my phone, and would grant me far more independence than Apple ever did.
I somehow convinced my Dad to go to Verizon with me, just to check out the Pixel and make sure it would do what I needed it to. (Strangely enough, this seemed like a good idea at the time, despite the fact that I would literally be traveling halfway across the country in a week.) I ended up going home that day with not only a Pixel, but a Home as well. And of course, none of it worked like it was supposed to.
All this to say that — finally, after weeks of research, returns, customer service, and Reliable Medical Supply, I have my technology squared away. Unfortunately, the onscreen mouse doesn’t work with the Pixel. There is a glitch that arises every time you try and pair the Bluetooth module and the phone, but I’m hopeful Google will address this in later updates. However, it does work with the Samsung SM-JS20V. It’s an old phone, and the camera’s awful (catch me pining after the Portrait setting on the newest iPhone), but I can do so much more now. Selfies? Check. Videos of me trying — unsuccessfully — to rap “My Shot” as part of #Ham4All? Check.
I switched laptops, too, and am now sporting a 17.3” HP. I will always love Macs, but again I’m surprised at how much more I can do now that I’m running Windows. And thanks to Windows’ onscreen keyboard, as opposed to the horrid Apple onscreen keyboard — which hasn’t been updated in the five years I used a Mac — I can type on-the-go. I have been averaging 800 words of my book a day since getting released from the hospital. I’ve even been writing outside in our porch!
Yesterday, I hooked my bedroom lights and my space heater up to my Google Home. I was terrified Home wouldn’t work; technology hasn’t been my friend these past couple months, but it did. In fact, just a few minutes ago, I told it to turn my space heater off.
The first time I turned my lights on yesterday I nearly started crying. It’s been 22 years coming, and though I might be broke — and by might I mean that I most definitely am — it is completely worth it.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.