Hi, My Name Is Dawn Huberty.
I am the founder of WIRED4LIFE, an online community to support those living with implanted cardiac devices. I am currently on my third pacemaker and am a recent ovarian cancer survivor. I enjoy hanging out with my grandchildren and weekend trips in the RV with my husband and dog. I also like writing, container gardening and reading cookbooks.
Why Do the Wired Need to Find Community?
Overall, the importance of community is in friendship, empowerment, support, and education. I started WIRED4LIFE because I needed a group of like-minded individuals where we could share experiences and knowledge in a safe environment. When we experience a health condition for the very first time, we are generally filled with more questions than answers. You don’t know what you don’t know. Having an empathetic group to learn from won’t change your condition, but it makes living with it so much easier.
Community Empowers Us
If all we did in our group was whine and complain (and there is always room for that), why would you ever want to come back? I want to feel encouraged and cheered on when I have an upcoming procedure that is causing stress or if I simply feel that no one in my life understands. Empathy is tantamount in community. We may not perfectly understand, but on some level we can relate. We can be supported, and can support. Empowerment is like an early bloom—a seed is planted, in time it wriggles its way up towards the light, and with time and nurturing, it becomes vibrant and alive. We are the seed, our community is the sunshine. We grow together!
Educating Each Other
Before I had mine implanted, I always assumed that “old” people got pacemakers, but I was 27 when I received my first pacemaker. I have since learned that people of all ages receive pacemakers, they are even implanting them in the womb! My community helps each other learn the ins and outs of living a full life with our devices, which is great, because the learning curve is steep. While I am still asked, after almost 30 years, if it’s okay to stand by a microwave oven when you have a pacemaker, my community is also able to address more technical and niche questions. We talk about different devices and manufacturers, how each device works, why it works that way, and whether skydiving will cause a device to act up (yes, we had a question if skydiving was okay if you had a defibrillator and yes, it is).
Community Helps You Live Your Best Life
While our group often works with device companies to source information, we also lean heavily on patient experience. I once posted a question to our group, how many years have you been “wired” (implanted with a cardiac device), we ended up with almost 300 years of experience! When one has an upcoming ablation, many chime in to support and encourage this person. We also celebrate device anniversaries, and we giggle when some in our group name their devices.