I do remember life before the internet, but I was an early adopter, so that was a loooong time ago. I used my father’s University of Toronto email account to email an American friend until torfree.net came on the scene. Then someone, I forget who, got in touch with me about writing for Bell Canada’s new Sympatico website, and I wrote a few articles. I think around then — I can’t remember if before or during — I got my own paid email account with my dial-up account.
Hmmm. I don’t recall how I connected to my father’s email or my torfree email. I must’ve had some sort of dial-up! Oh, I guess it was torfree and before that, I used Dad’s computer.
When was all this? Uh, well, maybe I should go see when torfree was launched. BRB.
Back! It was founded in 1993. So I’ve been on the internet since about then. Not surprising, really, since I’d been using computers since I was 14 — except for a brief period when it ate my essay and I went back to using the typewriter like my classmates did — yes, I’m getting to elder status — scary! Just before the car crash that sent awry my entire brain in 2000, I’d designed my own website. I was finishing up my research for Lifeliner and had begun my marketing plan although I’d drafted only three chapters. My plan included a website back when Netscape dominated and most still weren’t on the internet.
I enjoyed designing it. I was still writing database programs, so using computer coding for design was a nice change.
That all went in the trash because of two fucking drivers who just could not drive sanely. Can’t wait for autonomous cars!
Seven years later, with the help of a fellow church member who’d been teaching me and leading the running of the church’s website, I used WordPress to launch my own site again. I also joined Facebook. Two years earlier I’d joined Flickr when I regained some photography skill and I’d begun a blog on blogspot to write something, anything, to breathe again. Under the anonymity demanded by the car crash-related insurance suits, I connected to people on those sites. The year I began my blog was also the same year I finally found real help to heal my injured neurons. Two years of Googling finally netted a result! But while I searched for treatment, I’d found a traumatic brain injury community online whose writings helped me understand, manage, and navigate life with brain injury.
In real life, I’d not been referred to low-intensity laser therapy to heal my whiplash and shoulder strains in 2000 even though it had been around for a decade by then.
In real life, family and friends deserted me and the governments they voted for and hospitals they worked in cut me from neurorehab then later community care because “budgets,” “timelines” that exist only in some beancounter’s head as being realistic, and “taxpayers need tax cuts.” (How are those tax cuts helping you all now that the pandemic has you joining me in health care hell?)
In real life, no one — no doctor, no highly educated family member or friend — was willing nor tried to use their networks and keep asking around to find permanently healing treatments for my brain injury. The closest was my physiatrist who referred me to the psychologist who gave me almost weekly in-clinic audiovisual entrainment sessions. But those didn’t effect permanent healing nor was powerful enough to heal my whole-brain diffuse axonal injury. (The at-home device allows for daily treatments, which is more effective than weekly, and for managing the bumps of life.)
I was referred to low-intensity laser therapy 13 years after my injury. So despite it changing my health dramatically, it came too late to prevent chronic conditions set up by not fully healed muscle injuries. (It’s now called photobiomodulation therapy and is the biggest game changer for my heart. Brain injury affects the brain’s ability to control the heart. This therapy substantially healed that, and home treatments, along with gamma brainwave enhancement, keeps healing it.)
In short, life before the internet was filled with possibilities as I strode excitedly into my future but would’ve left me permanently injured and as a result prematurely dead after my brain injury.
You need a really wide network, which only the internet can provide, to find unselfish humans willing to help you heal.