Mixed feelings about beeping technology



Random Beeps

After our experiences in Africa, losing our farm, the intimidation and violence, there is not too much to worry about here in Canada.

One of the advantages of surviving traumatic events and overcoming adversity is that things that cause other people intense worry and stress, can be put in their proper perspective. Seen as minor blips on the great journey of life. They can be treated as the irritants they really are, the winter cold that is starting to creep into our lives, a life style vastly different from our previous country, lack of personal freedom, could all cause Sue and I to be miserable if we let them. We choose not too. Sure we have our occasional bad days but we don’t let them define our lives.

But every now and then something comes along to give us a jolt.

My most recent reminder of my own mortality came at the crossroads of health and technology.

I have commented on the good and bad of our Canadian health system, probably the best in the world for serious, life threatening conditions whether caused by disease or accident. Probably one of the most frustrating for those that are not urgent, even if potentially serious, in the long-term.

After my heart attack in 2010, I was monitored by a cardiologist for the first year, then handed over to an internal medicine specialist who has been carefully monitoring my progress with 6 monthly check ups and various tests. I doubt if I could have received better treatment anywhere in the world.

Although I have been feeling fit and healthy enough to continue with a fairly strenuous life, the doctor was not too happy with the results from the most recent stress test and arranged for me to wear a heart monitor for two weeks. He also organised a visit to the cardiologist and more tests in two weeks time.

Neither the prospect of the monitor nor more tests and a visit to the cardiologist caused me any concern until this morning when I was fitted with the monitor.

The magic of technology allows a little black box on my belt connected to two patches on my chest to record what my heart is doing. When the indicator shows that a certain number of signals have been recorded, I upload the data by phone to a computer which presumably interprets it and sends the results to my doctor. The black box is only the size of a small cell phone, simple, effective and non-invasive.

Until it beeps.

The doctor told me that it beeps when it records an “event”. It also has a button for me to push if I notice any change to my heart beat (which I rarely do) in that case I have to record the time and what I was doing. That could be interesting at times.

Now the occasional beep is more disquieting than the prospect of more tests and a visit to the cardiologist. So far today, the black box has beeped nine times. Sometimes when I have been sitting down, sometimes walking, once while brushing my horse. At none of these times did I feel any different, notice anything unusual or even feel as if I was exerting myself more than usual.

Strange, how a random beep can evoke all sorts of fears and speculation. When it beeped the first few times, I started questioning whether I really was feeling as good as I had been telling the doctor. Was this infernal machine exposing some problem that I was denying? Was my heart deteriorating?

After a few more beeps during the day, I realised that I was giving the beeps too much significance. They are just sounds, if the machine had been silent I would never have known that it had recorded an event until it indicated that it had enough data to upload.

Having convinced myself that the beep on its own meant absolutely nothing, I relaxed and stopped speculating about what was causing it. Instead, I reminded myself that I still feel as well as ever, all the secrets of the black box will be revealed in good time. There is no point allowing it any more attention.

The fact that technology can provide such detailed monitoring is wonderful, the concern that a random beep can cause is not so great.

How often do we allow minor “beeps” in life to cause us concern, spend time worrying about vague fears that will probably never materialise?

The little beeping black box was a good reminder for me today.

How do you handle the unexpected beeps in your life?


Peter Wright




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  2 comments for “Mixed feelings about beeping technology

  1. Roberta
    November 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    “How often do we allow minor “beeps” in life to cause us concern, spend
    time worrying about vague fears that will probably never materialise?” ~~~ I know I let far too many cause me concern. Intellectually I know I should not allow them to do so. Emotionally, I let to many do so.

    I try not to. But it just seems to happen – emotion takes over despite my best desires. Wish I could find the secret to ignore or deal with those times in a more positive way.

    • November 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Back home there was a saying “Worrying about the ants when the elephants are stampeding”. That puts things in perspective.

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