I knew about Caring Bridge (if you don't, you should check it out) from friends of a teenager who had been in a car accident. It is a wonderful tool that allows you, in seconds to set up a website and tell everyone what is going on and then make "Journal" entries that friends and family can subscribe to. Guests can leave encouraging words in the "Guestbook" and you can put up some pictures. Caring Bridge is a "private" concern. If you use it, no one can search on the net and find you or your situation. It allows you to notify everyone about it and then they have the link and can visit or subscribe.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I hesitated. I didn't know how Dave would feel about it. Midnight, a few days after I arrived, I was feeling pretty rung out and my cell phone battery was dying regularly from overuse. I had received many wonderful calls and had many to make. Going over it again and again was exhausting, though I was willing. Some had called with completely wrong information, 3rd and 4th hand. I really wanted a way to give everyone one source of information on what was going on with Dave, and me. So I plunged in and set it up. I sent out the link to everyone in my address book and by the next morning when I woke up there was about 60 "hits" and many messages. By the time I got to the hospital an hour later and asked Dave if he had gotten my email about his website, he looked at me funny (NO!). So I pulled it up while explaining to him what it was, and he was way over 100 hits! When I showed him the hits from midnight and the guestbook entries, he was clearly moved and emotional. Whew! He wasn't angry.
It was a godsend. I was able to keep everyone up to date, blow by blow, how we were doing. People would contact me to take care of something that they could see I needed from the site. The messages were wonderful, his family was beginning to chime in from all over the country. We were hearing from so many, it was uplifting and strengthening beyond words. I now was able to talk to people about other more important things that needed addressing, while still hearing from friends and family without spending the majority of our conversation on Dave's Cancer situation. It was great.
As time wore on and the crisis began to subside a little, or I should say, the lulls between the activity, I would get emails from friends "LORI! Why have you made an entry in two days? Is everything OK?" I was like, "Really? Do you guys really want to hear about the banalities of our day?" When things are not going on cancer wise, did they really want to know that I found a cool new store in Elk Grove , or something in a box I had been looking for? I received a flurry of emails "YES!" Later on, when complete strangers were following the website (because I had posted it on some public spaces) they too would get concerned if I didn't put something every day or couple of days. I was incredulous, but buoyed by it all.
It was also helpful when someone would re-enter my life and I would have to tell them about Dave. I would fill them in briefly and then say, "Oh, you know, you can read about the whole sorted saga on his CB site." That way I didn't have to try to condense the whole deal in an email or a phone conversation.
Caring Bridge became a part of my day. The guest book entries slowed to a trickle, but the hits keep climbing and are almost 17,000 now.
It has been an amazing internet tool and I highly recommend it should you find yourself in a similar situation.