Chronicles of the Heart, Part 16 – a diversion…

This is not the usual medically-orientated rant, but more a technophile’s guide to being ill in hospital which will probably feature in my future. More than once if I’m lucky. )For a given values of lucky, if it’s APH.)

When I was incarcerated in the Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral (APH), fiction factory earlier this year all I had was my tiny Sony Ericson Xperia Mini Pro mobe (and, luckily, the charger). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cracking little phone, with a slide-out qwerty keyboard (just had to think how to spell qwerty – mind’s going!), but the battery is tiny, lasting for just a day of fairly moderate use. Other than that I find it very hard to fault (oh – a biggie – no internal modem so can’t use it to connect my netbook to the Web, but as I got that after the phone, I can’t really criticise the mobe).

What I needed was something – well – bigger. And better (I’ve always been a bit of a gadget freak, but 25 years on benefits put a crimp in that), so I decided I’d bite the bullet and splurge on something more upmarket that I wouldn’t get bored with before the contract expires.

I’d like an iPhone but, like everything from Apple, they’re absurdly  overpriced and, anyway, I hate Apple’s sealed-box philosophy. I doubt it extends to their mobes, but I just don’t want to engage with them on any level. Of the rest, I liked what HTC were offering, but ran up against the networks’ websites, who provide bugger all in the way of information about the handsets.

I narrowed it down to three HTC models, Desire (getting on a bit now in mobe terms but still pretty good), Desire S (even better), and, not quite as good but more affordable, the Wildfire S. I also wanted at least 1GB Net access for no more than £25 a month. Oh, and the phone had to be free, which also ruled out the iPhone.

Cheapest was Virgin as, already a customer, I could get the Desire S, free, for £22.95/24 months, which got me 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB Net access. And it’s a cracking phone to boot, running Android 2.3.3.

It’s just about intuitive, if you’re a reasonably experienced user, which is just as well as HTC don’t provide a manual, so newbies without an Internet connection would be seriously screwed. I’d already downloaded one from the HTC website – and it’s almost totally lacking in graphics – odd for something as visual as a modern mobe, and not wildly helpful. More of a last resort if you get totally mired. So far I’ve managed not to.

Internet access is excellent connected to my network – as it should be – and I’ve had no problems with connecting Via Virgin’s mobile network with my Xperia – not lightning fast but adequate – so I’m not expecting any now. And it can be used as a modem, so I can use it to get my netbook online – saving me paying out for mobile broadband that would be used only rarely

One thing worth a mention is HTC’s mains charger. I have about 8  mains chargers in use, of which the one for my Kindle was the slickest (a USB lead connects to a charger shaped like a 13amp plug, in the place you’d normally expect a cable to emerge; very tidy), but HTC’s charger just oozes quality. OK, this might simply cosmetics, and I have no doubt the electronics came out of the same Chinese factory as many of the others, but it just looks so damn classy. Small, too. Don’t break it – £16 to replace!

I also have a back-up battery pack. Rechargeable, with a capacity of 3400mAh, it’ll recharge my Desire S about 2.3 times. Comes with a bunch of adapters and an extendable connection cord. The one I have, the  Proporta TurboCharger, seems to be no longer available, but this one** has a capacity of 4000mAh and is about £6 more than mine was. A good investment for any heavy mobe user, and there’s higher-capacity model, 6000mAh available for £49.95.

**One of the reviewers complains that the manual is pretty poor – frankly, if you need a manual for something as simple as this – attach the appropriate tip to the cable, connect to phone – you might not be ready for the world of mobile telephony.

In fact, as electrical sockets on the ward are for equipment, not you, even if the hospital allows charging there may not be a spare socket, so it’s probably best to invest in the highest capacity you can afford, and recharge this, rather than the mobe, as and when you can.  By the way, if you’re shopping for one of these things, other than the one I’ve linked to (and the others you can access from there), look under chargers – emergency, rather than the more intuitive batteries. And, of course, carrying a spare battery or 2 is always possible, but in terms of cost, the emergency chargers work out cheaper for most mobes using OEM batteries. For example, an OEM battery for my Desire S is £29.95, with a third-party, slightly higher capacity battery going for the same price (all prices quoted here are from Mobile Fun).

Getting a flip case is problematic, as the one I want is out of stock, and so many others are simply poorly designed or poor quality; often both. So, to tide me over, I bought one of poorer quality, but good design, from Amazon. It’s PU, not leather (despite the claim), but at £2.95 including delivery it’s a snip. I have a similar one on my Xperia, and it’s fine. The one I want, though, is the brand/design I have on my Nokia E3, and is amazingly robust, protecting the phone really well, so I’m having one as soon as they’re back in stock.

One final though before we leave the Desire S – if you’re of the hamfisted persuasion, the touch-screen is toughened glass, not fragile plastic. Also eliminates the need for screen protectors.

So, that’s communications taking care of (my E3 will be coming along too, as backup – battery life is exceptional as there’s no power-guzzling touch screen). I don’t know about taking my netbook, and using the Desire S as a modem – probably overkill and just another charging problem.

Of course, you will remember to pack the appropriate chargers, won’t you? In my case I just need two – my Desire S and Kindle can use the same charger, as they both need 5v input

Next is a lockable bag/briefcase for my drugs, plus a small cable lock to secure it to the bed – still looking at that one.

If you have a serious respiratory problem, you might want to think about taking along your own nebuliser, if you have one, as the one foisted on me at Arrowe Park was seriously defective – the pump was so over-powerful it was impossible for me to inhale the mist, and most got wasted.

I have a mains/rechargeable model, the Clenny, from Chiesi, the people who produce the Clenil Modulite inhalers. The compressor is pretty quiet, unlike many, and the airflow is quite gentle. The neb itself has a valve system than prevents the drug being wasted on the exhale, something which hospital nebs, often being pretty basic, lack. For me, though, it’s perfect as the airflow matches my breathing ability, so very little gets wasted. Some does, it’s the nature of the beast, but not much.

In Arrowe Park, jugs of water are no longer provided bedside. The excuse is hygiene, which is bullshit. Like much else to do with APH, it’s corner-cutting, so I’ll be taking a 1litre sports drinking bottle next time, to save walking to the tap with a plastic cup every couple of hours.

Stuck in hospital, you need a way to pass the time. Radios and mp3 players are all very well, but add to the recharging problems unless they run on AA/AAA batteries (though often both are incorporated into mobes – still run your battery down faster, though**). My choice, last time, was my Kindle (it’ll give you some idea how dire my hospital experience was when I tell you I was reading 1984 to cheer up!). As long as you turn off wi-fi your battery should last a couple of weeks – I don’t know if anyone has got the two months Amazon claimed in their promotional material (well, “up to” 2 months, and we all know what a cop-out “up to” is***), and one of the above battery packs might be capable of recharging it, though I don’t know the capacity of the battery, they’re a bit secretive about that.

**I’m hoping, before I’m hauled away again, to have some Bluetooth headphones, and my mobe loaded with my favourite music. Last time I had ten minutes notice – this time planning starts now.

***Dredging through the “technical details” online it says “A single charge lasts up to two months with wireless off based upon a half-hour of daily reading time.”

Total garbage, of course – who the hell reads for no more than half an hour a day? In my case it’s more like 6-8 hours a day, depending on how dynamic I’m feeling (more, I’ll be on my PC, less, I’m more likely to read – not a hard and fast rule).

And that’s pretty much it, though you might also want to take in a load of £1 and 20p coins for a daily paper, though with the right mobe, and  assuming you have a connection – the electronic hardware in hospitals may militate against that, though I had no problem last time – you can read online.

A caveat: Yes, I know I’m a cynical bugger, but if you’re taking all this kit into hospital, make sure it comes out with you by not leaving it in plain sight when you’re off the ward. Leave a list with relatives, or a trusted friend, in case you don’t come out – you don’t want anything going walkies while you’re lying there going cold.


2 thoughts on “Chronicles of the Heart, Part 16 – a diversion…

  1. I hope you won’t mind me saying that it’s very interesting/informative, and scary, at the same time to read about this “adventure” you didn’t choose and how you are coping with all of the problems to negotiate through it.
    This and many of your other posts get into details about what one needs to pack up ready for a stay in hospital or an endeavor into a period of need. Good practical advice.
    Scary because as we age, we are all contemplating a very different kind of life than what we would choose.

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