I am stuck in a side ward a room no bigger than 5m by 3m at it’s biggest. The outbreak of vomiting virus means that I have not been out of the room for almost 5 days. It would be very easy to go ‘stir crazy’ in here.
In fact since Maunday Thursday (April 13th) I have spent most of my time in hospital (up to the 16th in Nairobi and from 20th April until now in Lincoln), with only 3 days out – in which I travelled back to England.
In all this time I have been able to have visits from friends and family which has sustained – it’s been great to have mum down the road, and my sister-in-laws family have been excellent too (thanks Janet, Matt and Dave).
Looking forward to seeing my own parents in law today too – family is important at times like this and having been away for much of the past three years it has been good to connect – even though half of my own family still live and work in Tanzania for the next three months.
The other great boon has been the access to the Internet via the WiFi here (at a cost of £15 per month) which has allowed me to access the world on the other side of the keyboard. Not just in writing this blog which is proving cathartic, but also remaining engaged with my former homes in Mwanza and Milton Keynes, as well as friends from across the world.
Being able to connect socially with the rest of the world is often seen as a malignant thing – destroying real conversation and deep discussion. For me though it has allowed me to keep on top of events and participate in discussions with people on a deeper level. some folk I have not chatted to regularly or for years and we can take up the conversation so quickly.
My old church in Bletchley has a Prayer Hotline and sits on Facebook – a great solace and support when things are going badly.
My newer friends in Mwanza and my family in the the UK connected via WhatsApp chat groups.
I-messenger which works alongside Facebook – with a chance to have more in depth private conversations.
There is email of course, but newer technologies work particularly well in this situation.
The ability to FaceTime and Skype and WhatsApp video chat means that I have spoken with Anita most days and it has been good to keep on top of events like the Swim Gala in which my daughter was competing. Two kind friends Kevin and Eric were able to send video (live video in some cases) and photos to me to see it all going on.
Social Media, often rightly, has a bad wrap, but actually it is a crucial link for those trapped in a place, in my case a hospital bed. Long Live Social Media.
Of course physical connection is important too and all of the cards I have received have also been touching – in particular one from Ian and Ros Pusey the vicar who married me and Anita all those years ago.
However, you connect – just keep connecting – be part of the world, not aloof from it.