Our family has spent much of 2015 handling medical issues.
I was hospitalized for six days in March, and my bride served two stints at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock this summer. In Nancy’s case, a midsummer surgery has required outpatient treatments in recent weeks.
As we’ve lived these experiences, we’ve been wonderfully supported by many family members and friends (some even belong to both groups). Some of these supporters have asked to be notified whenever certain appointments, doctor visits, surgeries or other procedures have been completed.
During my hospital stay, Nancy and I decided that grouping children, siblings, cousins and certain friends who knew each other for shared texts might save time. We could write one text with the latest medical information and then copy, paste and text it to each group. Nancy dutifully wrote down a list of people for each group as she sent the first text. You might call it a 2015 version of the old phone tree that some organizations use in certain emergencies or weather-related changes to a schedule.
After each round, though, we’d hear from a person we hadn’t remembered or someone we thought of that should have been included. Nancy’s list became longer and some names were scratched out and moved to another group that we thought made more sense.
Then the unanticipated logistic complexities of group-texting started popping up like teen acne.
First, you had an occasional question from someone who might ask, “Is the ‘Ellen’ on this text Uncle Oscar’s oldest?” or something like “Who is this Erinn person who doesn’t know how to spell her name?”
Some cell phones have a function of asking a user who begins a reply to a group text, “Do you want to send the reply to the sender only or all recipients?” Some, though, will send the reply to all recipients unless the user specifies otherwise. And sometimes, when the latter happens, the person replying to the original text forgets that her message is going to “all.” So the above questions may have caused confusion or possible awkwardness.
In a similar situation, a longtime friend of Nancy’s replied to her text about my medical update in such a way that a relative on my side of the family mistook the friend’s reply as a reference to the relative’s earlier reply. So after that, we tried to include people in a group in which they knew all the other members.
After a couple of texts to a particular group of siblings, we were informed by one member that her cell phone did not allow her to receive group texts and that she hadn’t been receiving the ones we had sent. After discussing that with Nancy, she decided, “Maybe that’s why my brother called me at 1:30 a.m. yesterday to tell me that Mike was in the hospital.” I personally thought it was just meanness on the part of her brother, but I didn’t tell her that — possibly, that is, until just now.
That sibling now receives her own separate text in our process.
When Nancy was the patient, my problem was forgetting to use Nancy’s group list or not being able to find it. So I tried to remember the groupings off the top of my head. With my memory capable of retaining only important baseball statistics these days, that usually meant new groups every time and someone being forgotten until they called or texted to ask why I hadn’t updated them.
To date, I guess we’d declare that above-mentioned process as “evolving.” But it helps if you remember where you put the paperwork.