Virtual Community

Last night I returned home from a soccer game to touch base with Matthew’s nurse before she signed off for the day.  Matthew had had a good day.  Perhaps he was a bit congested but nothing alarming.  At 7pm I agreed.  By 9pm I was less convinced.  As Matthew is prone to do, in about two hours his conditioned deteriorated.  His temperature climbed and his oxygen saturation levels dropped.  Two things we don’t like to see.  His breathing became laboured.  Eventually he fell into a fitful sleep.  I spent the night dozing on the floor next to his bed.


Last evening I wanted to go to my computer and ask Google, “when do I panic?”.  It doesn’t matter that as a veteran parent I am infinitely more capable of assessing my son that Google.  It was just, in that moment, that I felt alone and worried and I wanted someone to tell me that it was okay to be concerned.  Matthew looked quite sick, but the seasoned caregiver in me knew it wasn’t time to panic yet.  We threw a bunch of drugs at him to address his assorted symptoms and he settled.  I know from years of experience that the longer we can manage his care at home the better.  Hospitals, while necessary once a line is crossed, complicate many issues and add layers of concerns.


So while I didn’t ask Google what to do, I did reach out on Facebook for support from my community.  In that precise moment what I needed was to simply feel less alone in my anxiety riddled space.  And my Facebook community responded in abundance.  In less than 30 minutes of my post sharing that Matthew was sick and that I would appreciate prayers or happy thoughts, I had a list of friends reaching out with offers of support.  Prayers and virtual hugs were offered.  A friend, who is also a family doc, recommended a PRN glass of wine to tamp down my anxiety.  Another friend offered to bring coffee by if it looked like I would be up all night.  For the record, that friend lives 40 MINUTES from our house!  Other friends indicated they would be by for a quick visit in the morning. My mom let me know that if we went to the hospital she could meet me there. Facebook, in the moment, was valuable in reducing my sense of anxiety and isolation.   Prayers were offered from Waterloo, Ontario to Kenya.  The whole experience was both humbling and uplifting.  In that moment when I needed to not feel alone I was reminded that I had tons of friends who cared about Matthew, me, and my family.


Deanna Thompson, the author I mentioned in my last post, has written a book The Virtual Body of Christ in which she explores the role of virtual communication and technology in supporting community.  At least that what Amazon suggests.  I haven’t read the book yet, but it is on my list of things I want to read.


So while Facebook is often the source of updates on Trump,  the Kardashians, dancing farmers, and cute kittens, it also can be quite powerful in terms of nurturing and supporting community.  Last night I was grateful for Facebook friends!

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