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Column: Really?

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Kenneth B. Lourie

Having recently upgraded my cell phone, I have finally, due to its larger keys and simplified data-entry process, learned how to enter “contacts” and their phone numbers as well as select some of these key contacts for speed-dialing. This relatively basic function, which had eluded me for years, has opened up a slew of possibilities, that even I can see will lesson the burden on my brain to remain engaged. Now I won’t have to think nearly so much about what I’ve spent 40-plus years doing: dialing a phone number from memory and/or referring to a phone/address book for that number. Thanks to my new phone, I have finally turned the corner of technology. I have passed “Go.” Next we’ll see where I land: “Boardwalk” or” Baltic” and see if there is a monopoly of my time as a result.

One week into my new communication life, I have entered 16 contacts, some with only one phone number, others with mobile, home and work. In addition, I have entered/selected two speed-dial numbers. Obviously, I have ample space remaining for future contacts and certainly more space for speed-dials. Going through the list of prospective “speed-dialers” and “contacts-to-be,” I have now reached a point where I’m sort of looking for people/numbers to add; I suppose you could say I’ve reached the second tier. I’ve already entered/allocated from the top tier (most called, most familiar, most logical: friends, family and business). Yet spots remain, so I’ve begun a mental search of who/what numbers might be cell phone-worthy (meaning whose phone numbers might I want to include in my cell phone) either as a “contact” or a “speed dial” since the process of doing so is now clearly within my rather limited abilities.

Two numbers that I’ve thought about adding – and which relate directly to this column’s title, are my car’s auto repair shop and my oncologist. I have most definitely entered them as contacts. However, given the semi-precarious nature of driving a car with 137,000 miles on the odometer, perhaps it would be prudent to assign a speed dial number to my mechanic. Not that I want to be calling him that often or have the circumstances be so time-sensitive that speed – in our ability to connect with one another over the phone – is of the essence but, hoping and praying don’t necessarily make it so. And let’s be honest, my car is not getting any newer.

I have similar feelings toward my oncologist. I don’t want to have to/need to call him that quickly, but again, let’s be realistic; I’m probably not getting any healthier. As such, if I did call him, presumably it wouldn’t be to inquire about the weather; more likely it would be to inquire whether a new symptom or a deterioration of some kind relating to my being a stage IV lung cancer survivor (who has now outlived his original “13-month-to two-year prognosis” by years) is significant. But if I’m being honest about my life/health circumstances, who better to call – and be able to call quickly and efficiently, than the doctor who is primarily responsible for my well-being/treatment? I don’t want to feel this way, but if there’s anything that seems increasingly more relevant (as I continue to live beyond my original prognosis), it would be to plan for circumstances that are beyond my control (although I’m not saying/admitting to their inevitability), especially if there are other people (close to me) who might need some assistance attempting to control those circumstances, should they occur.

Admitting to their significance – and need however, and in turn acting/planning on their behalf, so to speak, are tough pills to swallow. Never do I want to give credence to my original diagnosis and accept my fate, sort of. Nevertheless, organizing my phone to prepare for the worst, while still hoping for the best, might be the best way – for me, to take care of myself and those closest to me as well. But thinking that technology, specifically my phone, would play a major role in that task, is a really big surprise, all things considered.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers