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TreoTrip (to the hospital)

Mon Oct 23, 2006 - 10:39 AM EDT - By Jay Gross


Last month I packed a couple of casual outfits, some clean underwear, and two Treos for a short trip - to the hospital. It�s less than three miles away, but it might as well be across the galaxy.

I landed in the heart hospital with a back injury from a fall after a scary blackout. The medical trade called it a �syncope� and blamed my heart. They took it very seriously, brandishing words like �pacemaker,� virtually ignoring my other injuries, and barraging me with a bunch of high-tech toys. For almost a week, I hung out in bed wired up to their network of monitors, bored out of my mind.

To while away the hours, I brought along paper and electronic books, plus a well practiced channel surfing finger for the TV remote. I also packed my Treos, because I figured to entertain myself and others by browsing the internet, checking the weather, calling friends and clients, and otherwise enjoying a mini vacation.

A bar-free zone

Even with electronic devices lining the walls, the hospital didn�t prohibit cell phone use. They didn�t need to. Deep in the maze of the huge building�s fourth floor, my phones registered not even a hint of a useful signal. Nothing. We�re talking zero bars, both carriers � SunCom for my 650 and Sprint for my 700p.

My friends who visited reported that their Moto�s got one feeble bar on Cingular and SunCom near the window, from which they could watch the excitement at the emergency department�s busy heliport. But ten feet into the room, nothing. The fact that the flitting helicopters made no sound might indicate why. The place was tight as a tomb. Okay, bad choice of words, but you get the idea.

Besides making phone calls, I looked forward to using the Treo in many ways, entertainment topping the list. I�d finally be able to surfeit my addiction to Bejeweled 2, repopulate its high score table with J�s, and hone my Sudoku skills. I failed to factor in one small problem: I was too sick.

The Treos stayed ready and able � my friends rotated them onto the chargers in my apartment for me � but I felt too bad to take advantage of them. Something to do with lower back pain. If you�ve ever had it, you understand. If not, I sincerely hope you never do.

Aside from entertainment, however, there are things I could have done with the Treos that I didn�t do, and wish I did. The nurses came around frequently to check blood pressure and such, dutifully announcing the results as though I, or they, had accomplished something. I wish I�d kept track of those figures in a Treo memo, or a Documents to Go spreadsheet. Easy to do. But I hurt too badly.

The physicians, veritable gaggles of them, came by and introduced themselves - heart guys, endocrine specialists, general medicos and everything else, the whole gamut. Several of them had names I could never remember, much less spell, and I wish I�d been able to record those in the Treo. For one thing, I�d like to thank them, now that I�m sprung from the place, my heart cleared of any wrongdoing, and back in the real (as it were) world. But I was too ill.

Work, too. I could�ve used my Palm Wireless Infrared Keyboard to do some writing, like polish my novel or work on articles for TreoCentral. I could have dashed off some emails touching base with clients - and I needed to do so - as well as take care of all kinds of other textual tasks. I didn�t.

In the middle of the night, I heard the distinctive sound of a Treo ringing. I knew it wasn�t mine, �cause I have custom ringtones on them. Then I heard the grumping. Someone visiting the nurses� station from elsewhere in the hospital couldn�t take the call. There was no signal. I smirked, but kept quiet.

For the whole trip, I used my Treos far less than I hoped or wanted to, except to look up a few contacts that I called on the wired room phone. I thought up many ways I could put them to use, but opted for none of the above. I actually felt guilty about not getting any non-phone benefit out of them. The Bejeweled genie will be mad at me, for sure.


It�s taken me three weeks to recover enough to properly photograph the Yo bear, who kept me company in the hospital and brought a smile to the nurses� faces. I credit Yo, a gift from Annie and Harv, with speeding my recovery. Thanks, y�all!

So, take your Treo with you to the hospital, by all means, if you have to go. Better yet, stay healthy.

(Editor's note: after reading this cautionary tale, if you'd like to send Jay your thoughts or prayers, just click on his name at the top of this article. He's been a close friend of mine for over twenty years and I'm sure your best wishes would mean a lot to him. - Harv Laser, Managing Editor,

(You can also post a get-well-soon in our forum.)

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