Monday, 12 January 2009

Supporting Elizabeth

In response to Elizabeth's request for help, I suggested that we could set up a buddy system to make sure that any commitment we made to Elizabeth would be kept. I initially suggested that we could get into small groups in order to support each other.

Reading people's responses to Elizabeth gave me the impression that there were some people who wanted to help but could in no way promise to be reliable, mostly due to their own health concerns. This saddened me a little, and I wondered if it would be possible to provide a framework to enable these people to help Elizabeth, also.

With the help of the boyfriend, I think that I have come up with a plan which will enable everyone to do what they can without the worry that things will not get done. This would be a buddy scheme in which everyone was involved, and would be based on this website:

The way I envisage it working is that everyone who wants to make a commitment to e-mail Elizabeth does so. They then enter the details onto the website (or let me know the details and I will enter them myself). This sets up a daily, weekly or monthly task that displays, in date and time order, so that everyone can see it. When anyone completes their task, they go onto the website and mark the task as completed.

If an item was not marked as completed by a certain time period after its due time (we might want to discuss this), the person monitoring the site would complete the task (i.e. send the e-mail) themselves. The idea behind this is that some people would not know whether or not they will be able to send the e-mail until either they do send it, or they do not send it; there would be no need to let anyone know in advance whether or not they would be OK to do that. There would therefore have to be people monitoring the site (details to follow).

There would be no guilt and no judgement associated with not sending the e-mail when you were supposed to - this is intended to be a support system, not a way to make people feel bad. It is expected that some of the people I would like to take part will often not be able to send the e-mails they are down for, and this is to be a friendly safety net.

The time zone we would be working on is Victoria time, as that is Elizabeth's time zone. This is GMT - 8 hours. Details of your time zone can be found here:

As I mentioned above, we would need people to keep an eye on the site. I can commit to Sunday, Monday and Friday 08.00 - 16.00 Victoria time, and will often also be able to do the same on Thursdays and Saturdays. This means that we could well need people to oversee the site on Tuesday and Wednesday 08.00 - 16.00, and every day 16.00 - 00.00. I am aware that this is very much based on my thoughts (other people may have different times for availability), and also that, once we know when e-mails are due to be sent, the amount of monitoring will go down as people will just need to check the site when e-mails are due to have been sent.

If people were to volunteer to monitor the site, they would take full responsibility for checking the site at appropriate intervals and sending missed e-mails promptly. I think that they should also make it known if they encounter any problems. I think that this would be as flexible as possible - people do what they can and make sure that as much coverage as possible happens.

If people who were not monitoring the site noticed that an e-mail needed sending (after the due time), they could mark the e-mail as sent and then send it themselves. If people fell behind with their sending, they might want to talk to other people about setting up a smaller buddy system between themselves, but then again they may not. There would certainly be no requirement to do so.

If people wanted to add tasks such as sending letters, I think that this would be a slightly different system (although not necessarily). My thought is that I personally would not like to commit to sending letters in lieu of letters sent by somebody else, as I find writing letters really difficult as it is and struggle to get my own done. I would be happy to amend my letters to include, say, $5 for beer/a treat, or whatever, though. This is a topic I am happy to discuss further if anyone wants to do so.

Let me know what you think in the comments. If you want to take part in this, please e-mail me: optistatic at hotmail dot co dot uk. My Remember The Milk e-mail address is a different one, which I am happy to give out on an individual basis but do not want to have published on the Internet. Once I receive your e-mail I will invite you to join Remember the Milk as a friend though my other e-mail account, and we will see if we can get this concept off the ground!


yanub said...

Abi, I'm reading with Beth and emailing her after I've read thirty minutes to encourage her to do the same. I don't really have set times for it yet, because we aren't sure if twice or three times a week is more realistic for her. If you think it is the sort of thing to put on the reminder chart, that is fine with me. I don't really need a partner for it right now, but I can see where it would be good to have a pinch-reader in case Life happens and keeps me from keeping up with my own reading.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I think life always happens, even to the best of intentions which is why I tried to make emails and letter such so that they were of three in a week or once a week or once every two weeks and any financial commitments to be small and once every two week at the shortest to once every couple months (because I am optimistic, aren't I!). The honest truth is that right now, I do not have the mental capacity to understand the cunning plan since I keep passing out and low oxygen to brain apparently doesn't make me the sharpest pencil in the drawer. So I will ask Linda or Cheryl to look at the cunning plan. What I want to know is how are the other cunning plans coming, like your joinery and did you apply for graduate funding and do you now use gottlestops (that sounds rude doesn't it)? Are you playing with fuzzy slippers in church for the draft?


Abi said...

Did I overreact, and over-complicate things? Surely not!?! I am known for, erm, being so level-headed and straightforward...

Yanub, if you would like the safety-net of having your e-mails in the reminder chart, then it shall be put there. If you do want somebody to back you up, this would do that.

I hate the way Life keeps interfering with my reading. It is most inconvenient!

Elizabeth, you are far more cunning than I. Had I read your blogpost more carefully, rather than thinking "mustn't let this fail" and then gone off on a thinking spree, I might have responded differently. I would like to see if this is useful: if it is, then that is good; if it is not, then very little has been lost. I shouldn't look very silly. ;-)

My joinery is coming along well. We are about to make large crosses (5' tall) for a couple of churches, which will be a lot of fun. Graduate funding application will happen quite soon. Glottal stops will never happen, no matter where I am located. I don't have a Birkenhead accent, and I certainly shall not develop a Newcastle one! Church is not drafty at all - lovely for me, but really cruel for the organ. :-(

In summary, the other cunning plans are coming slowly but surely, I think (I am sure of the slow bit, and hopeful of the sure bit). Exciting things are happening (probably).

I am impressed by your ability to write even though you can't quite understand properly. I do hope that your day improves. Assuming you read this, please rest well today! The person who needs you right now is you. You are important to me, and so I say that you should look after yourself!

rachelcreative said...

Well if nothing else you have:

a) introduced me properly to which I think could be a useful tool for me generally


b) made me warm and fuzzy inside with how much you care about Elizabeth and wanting to help make The Plan work


I'm writing to Elizabeth every 2 weeks. I don't need anyone to back me up or second me on this. But I may use the milk site to help prompt me with this and other things. So thanks!

Abi said...

Rachel, you would not believe how long it took the boyfriend to find that site - most other free calendar sites set up for sharing do not have an option to tick items off, or to put a comment which would be visible at-a-glance.

This site looks to be good, and might prove to be useful in this instance. Then again, it might not. Who knows?

I am pleased to have made you warm inside. This is the cheap alternative to central heating! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great idea Abi. I am sending the following around and posting it places to give people info on what they need to do to help.

Wow, we are getting great response for what I have come to think of as “Project Beth”. That is fantastic! I do want to address some concerns though.

I feel it is very important that we not overwhelm Beth. She is very weak at the moment and was unable to get out of bed yesterday. Beth asked me to work on coordinating this effort so she can conserve her energy for now.

Abi has had a brilliant idea and found a calendar where we can coordinate the tasks and make sure they are covered. That lets you all have a back up system in place in case you are ill or unable to email on time. For information on Abi’s plan and the system in question go to

The tasks we need covered are to send emails a few times a week asking…

- Have you spent time away from the computer? What did you do?
- Have you been taking time to read? What have you read?
- How are you doing on postcard and sticker sorting?
- How is the project to sort the brain box and do thank you notes coming?
- Have you been drinking your Gatorade?
- Have you taken any time just for you?
- Have you been resting?

These days Beth is easily overwhelmed by outside stimuli, especially when she is having a day with poor cognitive levels. To avoid that I have some recommendations.

Only email about a specific task and at most once a day. Only ask about one thing such as reading or drinking gatorade. Getting multiple questions on multiple topics is very difficult for Beth. Keep the email short and light. If you want to have a deeper conversation email her separately. You may not always get a reply as that depends on how Beth is doing.

For those that are planning to send regular mail I recommend emailing Beth once it is posted so she can begin building anticipation.

For those of you offering financial assistance please email me at rangergrrlkio at juno dot com I will be mailing those of you that Beth told me about.

Thank you again for your efforts and understanding.


Abi said...

Thanks for posting that, Cheryl! I am so glad that you are co-ordinating this. I must invite you to join the Remember The Milk calendar, too, so you can see what is going on, should you wish to do so. I shall start inviting people in about 10 hours... You will be hearing from me shortly.

Neil said...

Greetings, Abi:

I would like to help with emails, but I'm not certain I would be reliable. Scared of failure; oh, that's me!

I'll look into the Remember the Milk site, and see what you're up to. Part of a buddy/team might work for me.

Zen hugs!