Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Power of Twitter


Social media is confusing to some. "What's Twitter all about?" I've been asked, and I find myself struggling to truly explain it.  It's a chat room, yet more.  It's a way to share information about things that interest you.  You can meet others that you may have things in common with.  But these definitions somehow seem inadequate - lacking in some way.

Today, perhaps one of the best things about Twitter was demonstrated through the community of those who tweet, in their unification by a fellow Tweeter's health crisis. Katie, a.k.a. @gardenpunk, is fighting for her life in a California hospital.  What she first assumed was the flu turned out to be bacterial meningitis.

Katie's situation is personal to me for a couple of reasons. It was in January 1999 that I fought and won my own battle back from the brink of death from this very same disease.  I was not expected to live, yet I did, and I credit the thousands of prayers that were said, along with some very good doctors doing their thing.  I tell you this to give hope that Katie can do it, too.

Secondly, I have met Katie in person.  She and her then husband, Chris, attended Spring Fling in Chicago last May.  She always warned me that she was my official stalker, because she was one of the very first followers of Our Little Acre and became a very loyal one.  After having met her and spending some time with her, I told her I was honored to have her "stalk" me.

Sometimes you just click with people. Sometimes you just don't.  There was no question with Katie.  We clicked.  It didn't matter that she was the same age as my older daughter; we were more like contemporaries. 

After Spring Fling, we began chatting on Twitter as I became more involved with it.  I'll admit that I wasn't all that impressed with it when I first signed up, but in time, as I used it more and more, I found some great gardeners and others with whom to connect.  It soon became part of my daily routine.

Earlier this week, Katie and I had a lengthy conversation (privately) about the turn her life had taken in recent months and she said she was as happy as she'd been in a long time.  She had taken charge of her life and was living it the way she was meant to.  I could feel her enthusiasm in the words she chose when she spoke.

But just two days later, on Thursday, I got a late night tweet from Carri, who happens to live near Katie and is a good friend of hers.  Katie had been taken to the ER and was in critical condition. It wasn't known at first what was making her so sick, but as Carri relayed available information to me, I told her it sounded eerily familiar to my experience with meningitis.  In the end, Katie was diagnosed with just that and it had progressed to septicemia, which I'd also experienced with my own meningitis.

Knowing how deadly the disease can be, I knew that Katie was going to need all the prayers she could get. Carri knew it too, and we talked about how we had each experienced the power of prayer in our own lives during our own past health crises.

In the past months, Katie has become a vibrant voice on Twitter, both in the gardening community as well as to others.  When word spread about her illness and fight for life, the Twitter community came together to pass on information about her condition and to express its concern for her.  Good thoughts and prayers began to flow in amazing numbers.

Tonight, Katie is still fighting and we're still praying.  Though there's little any of us can do, through the power of the internet and Twitter, we can comfort each other and provide hope and encouragement to her family and friends.  Her family is reading those messages to her and they're certain she can hear them.

Most of us have never met Katie in person, but that doesn't make her any less of a concern for us, as we feel we know her through her online voice, thanks to her willingness to share her life with us on Twitter and on her blog, gardenpunk.

Katie, we miss you and we love you.  We'll continue to pray for you and think positive thoughts.  We'll all be glad when you're back with us again. It's not the same without you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can leave your own message for Katie and her family at her Caring Bridge page.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

38 comments:

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

From the heart, to our hearts. Couldn't have said it better. Joining you in praying for Katie!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Found the link to the hospital site on Facebook this morning. Can't believe she became so ill so fast. Praying for her recovery.

kate smudges said...

What a lovely post, Kylee. So many people are sending healing thoughts to Katie. It is inspiring to know that you beat meningitis. It gives us hope for Katie's return to good health. Twitter is pretty amazing as are the gardeners who use it.

That Bloomin' Garden said...

Praying for Katie.No one should go through what she is.

rebecca Sweet said...

What a lovely post...thank you so much for so beautifully sharing what your relationship has been with Katie. All of our thoughts and prayers are with her...

rebecca Sweet said...

I'm not sure if my last comment made it through...for some reason I think I made a mistake!! Sorry....

I just wanted to thank you for writing this lovely post and sharing your relationship with Katie. It's been really touching to see the outpouring of love across the 'cold' internet....joining all of you in praying for her until she's back among us Twittering away....

VP said...

Thanks Kylee for telling us both yours and Katie's story.

I'm a Twitter newbie (@Malvernmeet rather than VP because of organising the UK's equivalent of Spring Fling) and am still wondering what it's all about, but I wouldn't have found out about Katie's fight so quickly without it.

I'm so glad you recovered to tell your tale and I hope Katie will do the same.

Darla said...

Prayers for one hundred percent healing!!

Janet said...

Your story is one of encouragement for Katie's condition. I heard about Katie from Daffodil Planter. What a scary situation. With hope and prayers today's evaluation will bring good news.

Sarah from Toronto Gardens said...

Really wonderful to know a little more about how our Twitter tentacles spread out. Wonderful that through Twitter, people can become true friends, sometimes even meeting in person, sometimes not, but always an authentic connection.

My recent memories of Katie were talking to her about the joy of her owning her new truck, and how she talked about her 37 dollar wedding dress, she used for plenty of other occasions, when we were talking wedding dresses/waste.

Seeing these pics of her with her gorgeous smile are making me happy, and also the news this morning that she has hopefully turned a corner in recovery.

The fact that you won the battle with this horrifying illness is also very comforting. Glad you're here!

Cameron said...

Kylie, it's so great that you met a wonderful friend like her. Your heartfelt story shows how much you cherish the friendship.

Sending good thoughts and prayers to Katie.

Hugs,
Cameron

ScottHokunson said...

Kylie, really a wonderfully heartfelt post. Thanks for sharing your story and your relationship with Katie. We are all pulling for her! Scott

Gina said...

Kylee - thanks for writing this and posting these pictures. It's nice to be reminded that Katie is a happy, healthy girl. She looks so vibrant in these pictures!

Like you, I really felt a connection with Katie, even before I met her in person last year. This illness of hers has brought me to my knees in prayer. I can't wait until she gets back!

Garden Chick said...

Beautiful, Kylee. I am touched by the story of the friendship that has developed between the two of you. Awesome. I also try to describe what twitter is, and what it does for me. People just don't get it. I am blessed to know those that I do, from Twitter. Will continue to pray for Katie and to thank God for the wonderful friends she has pulling for her right now. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Beautifully written Kylee. It is a terrible illness. My nephew nearly died from it and was incapacitated for weeks after he fought the infection. Ever since I found out about her illness, Katie's been on my heart and in my prayers.~~Dee

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Wonderful and heartwarming post Kylee. I'm also rooting for Katie, as we all are. Don't know her personally but you get a feeling of who someone is through their blog and tweets. Katie struck me as very nice and a fun person too and your post confirms that, thanks!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Beautiful Kylee. Many prayers will be sent up for her complete recovery.

Carolyn Gail said...

We are all praying and hoping that Katie will recover soon. I do remember her from Spring Fling.

She has a wonderful friend in you Kylee. Thanks for writing this heart warming post . We hope to hear some good news soon.

Stratoz said...

Hoping for healing power.

and sometimes a blogger friend pops up unexpectedly at Twitter. how cool was that.

Daffodil Planter said...

Kylee, What a loving tribute to Katie. Twitter really helps connect people. And you can't beat it for getting out immediate calls for help--like yesterday afternoon's rush prayer request.

Laura Livengood Schaub said...

Thank you for posting this, Kylee. Twitter is many things to many people, but what I value is how it acts as a sort of tribal telegraph, where news (good and bad) can spread almost instantly to all corners of the globe.

Katie's family set up her CaringBridge page around noon on Friday, and less than 24 hours later it had been visited more than 2000 times. The network we build on Social Networks is as real as anything else in this world.

Last year I was able to spend time with Katie in both of our gardens, and like you have enjoyed watching her bloom in new soil. The 'Fight Club' quote on her blog page seems especially appropriate now: "Only after disaster can we be resurrected."

Katie has a long road ahead, but thanks to the "#FightKatie Club" that has formed around her, she won't EVER have to walk it alone!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I'm on twitter although I don't tweet myself I did see all the updates about Katie. I was just amazed at the community of twitterers (not sure if that's the word) and bloggers that were pulling for her. It really shows that through the internet friendships and bonds can be made, and if you're lucky like you've been, you actually get to meet each other.
I've had her in my thoughts and prayers and will continue.

Colleen said...

What a beautiful post, Kylee. I haven't been able to meet Katie yet in person, but that will change someday! The connections we make on Twitter are real. Katie and I had a discussion a while back about whether "online" friends are the same as "real" ones. She said there was no difference -- just because two people have never met has no bearing on how real their friendship is. She was right.

I keep checking Twitter for news of her because worrying is always better done with friends. Can't wait until we get to read her tweets again.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I didn't know about Katie's illness. I will join you all in prayer for her. My hubby had meningitis the first year we were married. It was scary and his was just viral.

Peg said...

Heart-felt prayers. And positive thoughts for her recovery.
Catherine's right, Twitter can & does become a community. Although I also don't tweet very much, it's a good method of giving that positive feedback.

Diane said...

Well-said; thank you, Kylee. We are all pulling for her and it's so amazing that technology lets us be right there with her and her family the whole time. I was reading her last few tweets from last week and it was so shocking how quickly everything progressed (and how she still had enough gumption to bitch about her neighbors, which made me laugh!). And of course I'm so happy you are here with us to tell the tale as well. I'm feeling grateful for my own health right now; how suddenly things can change.

Rose said...

Thank you so much for posting this, Kylee! I don't Twitter, so I wasn't aware of Katie's illness. I met her and Chris last year at Spring Fling when we sat at the same table for Saturday night's dinner. I will certainly keep her in my prayers as well.

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...

Sending lots of healing wishes to Katie, she is lucky to have you as a friend. ~ Rebecca

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It really was heartwarming to see the outpouring of concern and affection for Katie and her family. Twitter really helped spread the news. I have been slow to embrace it, but the value of Twitter is clear in such situations. You've written a beautiful post for Katie, and my prayers have been added to all the others.

Shirley "EdenMaker" said...

Beautifully put Kylee. Even though we haven't met all of our online friends, we still care for them and are concerned about them!

Katie is in my prayers.
Shirley

Rosie said...

I first heard about Katie on Saturday through twitter. I may not know her but she is in my prayers.

Lynn said...

Thank you for sharing this, and for demonstrating the power of a community. With prayers for healing for Katie and strength for friends and family, ~Lynn

Kate said...

Lovely post, Kylee. Saying a prayer for Katie. I'm sure she feels blessed to have a friend like you.

notsocrafty.com said...

What a beautiful post. Katie has touched a lot of people with her vivaciousness and spirit. You can see it in the amount of visitors to her caringbridge journal. Thank you for posting.

Pam/Digging said...

Katie has been in my thoughts every day since I heard that she was sick. Your example is a reassuring one. I'm sure that she'll come through this ordeal stronger than ever, as you have, Kylee.

Heather's Garden said...

Kylee, thank you for this info. I last "talked" to Katie on the 21st, but I've been in FL and out of touch and I'm not active on Twitter, so I find out she was sick until catching up on my blog reading. I tried going to her CaringBridge page, but it appears to be password protected and I haven't received any response to my request to join. If you have the password, could you please send it to me at heathersgarden (at) live (dot) com?

Katie said...

Kylee - I'm alive! I thought of you once I came to and figured out what happened. Meningitis? Wow. Your post was amazing. Im just beginning to retrace the last 5 weeks of my life and am stunned at the rallying of support from all my friends. All my love to you. -Katie

Kylee from Our Little Acre said...

You don't know how happy it made me to see this comment waiting to be moderated in my inbox! We all knew you would be blown away by the support from all your friends, but it's only because you've managed to charm the heck out of all of us and we wanted you to be around so we can enjoy you for many, many years.

We have MISSED you, and we are continuing to pray for your speedy recovery.

WELCOME BACK!!!!

Hugs and love to you!

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