Bill Chadwick, a member of a grief support newsgroup, created a
- -
memorial to his son on a Web home page. The page (http://www.pre
mier.netrzoom) contains links to other 'Net grief resources.
While E-mail won't replace regu-
lar mail in the foreseeable future, it
does offer speed that even
overnight delivery can't match-as
long as the recipient of the message
checks for new mail on a regular
basis.
Putting People
Together.
While E-mail lets people
who know each other
communicate, the Internet also
serves as a way to find others with
common interests or goals. This can
range from hobbyists to profession-
als working on related research and
sharing their findings.
Sharing,interests. People with unusual
interests can turn to the 'Net to find others
with the same avocation. You'll find groups
for just about any hobby or interest imagin-
able, from antiques to Zen. For example, if
you're a bowler and need to know what ball is
best for what lane conditions, you can read the
po stings in the news group alt.sport.bowling
for a lively discussion of that very topic.
(You'll also find spirited disagreements over
how to clean bowling balls.)
Professional exchanges. Professionals in
any field can exchange information with each
other over the Internet. Perhaps the best exam-
ple of this happens in the medical field.
Medical professionals are able to find and
exchange information much more quickly and
with much less effort than if they had to physi-
cally search libraries or individually contact
others in their field.
Dr. Lester Raff, a pathologist in a commu-
nity hospital in Des Plaines, Ill., helped q col-
league find information on a preoperation
diagnosis of malignant hyperthermia, a poten-
tially fatal condition that affects a small num-
ber of anesthesia patients. Reference books and
calls to local Jabs didn't produce the right
information, he says. But Raff's Web search led
him to the National Malignant Hyperthermia
Association.
"I was able to provide the anesthesiologist
with specific, detailed information on the same
day as his request," he says.
~
In addition to enhanced personal commu-
nication, doctors and res..=archers now have
access to resources such as Internet Grateful
Med, a service provided by the U.S.
National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Grateful Med (http://igm.nlm.nih.gov)
offers assisted searching in MEDLINE and
other online databases of the NLM. (Access
to MEDLINE requires a MEDLARS user ID
code and password. There is a fee for using
the service, based upon how long you're
online and how much information you
access. A small search can cost less than $2.)
The service has helped many doctors find
the information that made it possible for
"It is difficult to explain the
miracle of healing that takes
place when we share our sto-
ries with each other."
- Bill Chadwick
,-
them to correctly diagnose and
treat patients with rare diseases.
(While anyone with access to the
Internet can access Grateful Med,
patients should use the data for
general information rather than
for diagnosing themselves.)
Support groups. The 'Net, in
addition to helping you find people
with similar interests or share pro-
fessional information, can provide a
support nefworkfor almost any sit-
uation. There are -online support
groups for categories including
AIDS, alcoholism, cancer, depres-
sion, and sexual assault.
Support group participants are
quick to describe how they've ben-
efited from these groups. When we
asked for stories, we were floode'a with
responses from people around the country
who have participated in online support for
those grieving the loss of loved ones. Bill
Chaawick of Baton Rouge, La., who lost his
21-year-old son Michael in a car accident in
October of 1993, was one of the founding
members of the news group alt.support.grief
(ASG).
"It is difficult to explain the miracle of heal-
ing that takes place when we share our stories
with each other," Chadwick says. "I agree with
my friend Cathy who wrote' . . . grief is like
losing a leg. The wound of the stump begins to
heal, and we learn to walk again_on one leg,
but the leg never grows back. There is always
that place in our hearts where the leg should
be.' I quickly realized that the only people who
could truly identify with my pain were those
who had also 'lost legs.' "
Janice Hopson of Silverdale, Wash., who
lost her husband to cancer on April 18th,
found support in two online groups. One is
specifically about cancer; the other is ASG.
When her husband was diagnosed in April
1994, the couple turned to local groups for
support, which Hopson says are still very
important. However, she gets additional,
much-needed support from the online grief
support group.
- i'Unlike a regular support group, I could
reach out to others anytime of the day or night
and- was sure to get a response back quickly,"
HopS'Ofi-s3yft-
Brenda Manz,'{ilibther online support group
participant from Charlotte, N.'-f, says, "It's
October 1996/ PC Novice 71'