In Sickness & in Health: Every man needs his Excalibur

Last year, Rebecca’s husband Nick was hit by a car and seriously injured. Here, in one of a series of columns,  she writes about the aftermath of his accident

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The Independent Online

Nick has always been crazy about gadgets. But for months after his accident, he was surrounded by technology of a different kind. Blood-pressure monitors, oxygen monitors, a machine that pumped beige liquid “food” into a valve in his stomach... 

I gradually reintroduced a few gadgets to his life once he was out of intensive care. A radio and an iPod came first. Once Nick had regained consciousness, I bought him a digital watch. And now, in his room at the care home, he’s tooled up with lots of his old tech. Laptop, iPad, Kindle, mobile phone... none of which he uses. But woe betide if I unplug the computer or move the iPad. He might not be able to use them, but dammit, he wants them. They are part of who he is, and who he was, the tech PR, the gamer and the collector.

There are a few things, though, that Nick has mastered, and each gives him back a bit of control over his life. The controls of his bed let him lift and lower his head and legs (he’s only allowed me to see how high the bed would go once. Touching the ceiling was worth it). The buzzer that summons the carers. The noise-cancelling headphones that drown out the sound of everyone else’s buzzers. The real hero, though, is the TV remote. Just as I get twitchy if I don’t know where my mobile is, Nick is only happy if his remote – Excalibur – is in one of three places: on his stomach when he’s in bed, on the bed next to him when he’s in his wheelchair, or on my bed if he’s being changed.

For all the wi-fi enabled, Bluetooth-tastic gadgets he owns, Excalibur gives him the most freedom at the moment. The TV reception might be a bit fuzzy and the channels limited, but Dave and Yesterday let him travel beyond the confines of his bed. The hard-drive packed with movies that his friend Carl gave him offers a world of adventure, all at the touch of a few buttons. I hope that Nick will one day be able to navigate his technology again, but for now I give thanks to the remote control.