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Planning Retirement Online

Internet life saver..


How the internet became a life saver.  

Olive Braman tells the story of Monica Lee and her fight to resume her career

One morning, five years ago, when she was in her late forties, Monica Lee, a senior lecturer at Lancaster University, blacked out while she was swimming. The sun seemed excessively bright and when she came to she was troubled with after images and severe headaches.  

Four days later Monica fell into a coma and was rushed to hospital. The prognosis was very gloomy.  She had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and there were fears that she would not gain consciousness. The family was warned that she would suffer brain damage. But Monica confounded medical expectations and after nearly a week regained consciousness.


Initially she could not see, hear or speak properly and had severe ear and nose infections, but after a month she was strong enough to leave hospital. She returned to the family farm near Lancaster where she had raised a small herd of rare Hebridean sheep, as well as being a senior university lecturer.

Monica’s faculties improved slowly but life was not easy. She was totally dyslexic. She could not use the telephone or the microwave, but was determined to stay in touch with her academic work. She was totally dependent on her husband Charles to read proofs and professional documents. She says," I could not see properly. I could write but couldn't read what I was writing let alone read anything else."

There was nothing that anyone else could do for her. Therapy was not an
option. It was just a question of time. She had simply to wait and see what
happened, but at the same time she looked at the possibilities available through her computer.  

She first acquired a voice recognition system so that she could dictate copy into the computer. It took her a couple of weeks to become fluent in it, but with determination she succeeded by reading out long texts so that the computer would understand her particular habits and pronounciations.

Still suffering enormous frustration, she set herself small challenges. "I
found I was able to read very large letters so I turned to the computer where I
could maximise the script." She began to email friends

Each day she read and wrote a little more on her computer. As she became more proficient she used the voice recognition system less.  Her choice of provider was BT Openworld. It is available at any time she needs it and delivers broad band and narrow band services. Monica uses narrow band which gives 50MB of web space, 10 e mail addresses and anti-virus and anti-spam protection for 15.99 a month.

Monica says, "Without it I would never have been able to resume my academic contacts, I think that my intellectual life would have come to a standstill. I am sure that the drive to use my computer to communicate with others helped me. It allowed me to read and construct sentences.’  

Monica was housebound during the foot and mouth crisis and her newly found ability to e-mail friends was a lifesaver during the tensions of that time, with the threat to her Hebridean sheep a major preoccupation.  

Now, she has more or less resumed normal life, defying doctors’ predictions.  Although she has permanent damage to her vision she can now drive a car.
Having taken early retirement, she still manages to work with the university. She supervises PhD students, is executive secretary for the Forum on Human Resources and is editing a book series. Through her work with Hebridean sheep she is a director of Lancaster Auction Mart and she is also involved in the building of a new village hall. Her computer enables her to do research and to make contact with a wide variety of people.

For further details on broad band and narrow band contact Recently BT Openworld launched various sites aimed at
computer games, music fans, classical music and sports and betting enthusiasts, a mixture of free and subscription services.



laterlife interest

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