My Smartphone Problem (And How Messaging Services Have Helped It)

We live in a world, for good or for bad, that is dominated by smartphones. As phone calls begin to take more and more of a back seat in the modern era of communication, they have been replaced by texts, emails, messenger apps, and various forms of social media. All of which are right at our, figurative and literal, fingertips because of this wonderous device, the smartphone. For someone with Multiple Sclerosis, the not-so-great part of that previous sentence is “fingertips”. From very early on in my life with the disease, I have had difficulties with numbness and weakness in my hands. While it’s easy to think about some of the basic problems this causes, like dropping things, one often overlooked but persistent problem I have is the magical touch screen on my smartphone.

Numb fingers

Problems with my hands are something I’ve discussed before, particularly because of my “party hand”. I’ve had numbness in my right side for much of my life with MS, at times it is more prevalent and severe than others, but it is always somewhat of an issue. Lately, it’s been a bit worse than normal, which has really begun to affect my ability to use my smartphone. Trying to utilize the small touch screen with numb fingers can sometimes be a pointless disaster to me. It can lead to an ever increasing amount of frustration as I select the wrong buttons or fail to even register a click. There are times when my hand is so numb, that using it, even holding it at all, becomes impossible.

My ability to communicate with the world

Many will think, well, big deal, we should all spend less time on our phones anyway. While I certainly agree with that sentiment, for me though, it’s my ability to communicate with the outside world. I am on disability and spend long stretches home alone. I do not have a landline (verbal only communication is often a thing I avoid). I also live in an area where cell signal can be spotty, so I very much require more than calling and texting. The various communication methods that a smartphone can provide are very much important to me, and on the whole, can be more accessible than regular calling and texting. Being alone a lot, it’s actually been crucial for me to have my phone on me at all times in the house, because I’ve fallen and needed to use it to get help on occasion. While that’s an extreme case, it has happened enough that I keep my phone with me, even as I move through the house.

Messaging apps

While this doesn’t help me if I fall, lately, I have been able to help my communication issues by relying more on various messaging apps instead of texting/calling. When my hands are acting up, I have a much easier time going to my office and using something like Facebook messenger from my computer because it has a large, physical keyboard (they also make even larger and more modified ones for people disabilities). I’ve actually told a few close friends lately to contact me on messenger, because it’s so much easier for me. I can use my phone if my hands are having a decent day, but I can transfer to my office computer if they aren’t. Some were a bit taken aback by the request, some didn’t even have Facebook (but you don’t need an active Facebook page to have messenger, I also use WhatsApp, another messaging app that I can use via phone or desktop. There are many similar services as well, like Telegram and WeChat, and also ones that will aggregate several messaging services).

Keeping lines of communication open

So I don’t have all my smartphone issues solved, but by relying more on messaging apps, rather than calling and texting, I’ve at least been able to keep my lines of communication open, no matter how bad my hands may be. There can be a whole host of cognitive issues when using a smartphone as well, but I figured I’d touch more on my hand issues here. I feel like this might be a common issue for people, but it’s one I seldom hear about. Feel free to hit up the comments if you experience similar issues or have any tips!

Thanks for reading!

Devin

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