My husband, Steve, was in the hospital for a collapsed lung after he’d had an ablation procedure. His dear friend Alex, always a first adopter when it came to technology, sauntered into the room to visit, with his brand new iPad in tow. “You’re going to love this. And she’s going to love it. You’re going to need to buy two” —the she, of course, was me. So before he’d even left the hospital, two iPads had been ordered—His and Hers—which would be delivered to our home in a day or so.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this tablet would prove to be a sanity saver for me. Never one for video or computer games, as Steve’s condition began to worsen and I began to spend more days and nights with him, I desperately needed a form of distraction that I could easily pick up and put down; something that was fully portable and would not insult my intelligence.
I desperately needed a form of distraction that I could easily pick up and put down; something that was fully portable and would not insult my intelligence.
I couldn’t stay focused enough to read and knitting required me to count—something I had no patience for at this point. So, against my better judgment I searched out a few word games on the iPad. This was an “AHA!” moment of the highest order. I started out with anagrams and jumbles—Word Warp in particular—and found this made time fly, but soon found it less than satisfying. And so it was onto the deliciously addictive Words With Friends. In no time flat, I was juggling ten games at a time, chatting with total strangers, developing online relationships that made me feel just a little less isolated.
When Steve went into the hospital four years ago for the last time, I stayed with him around the clock for almost two weeks. He had few visitors, many of his friends having tired of the hospital experience, and we both found comfort in the company of our iPads. And so we sat, day after day—me playing Words With Friends ‘til my eyes crossed and him playing Hearts, Mah Johngg, solitaire and backgammon. Him and me. Until there were no words.
Adrienne Gruberg is a former family caregiver and founder of The Caregiver Space. After six years of caring for her late husband and mother-in-law she conceived of an online support space all caregivers could come to. Adrienne holds a BFA from Boston University. She founded AYA Creative in 1982, an award winning graphic design, marketing and advertising company. Her design training has helped shape the website and her personal and professional experience continues to inform and influence the caregiver centric support experience she has created at The Caregiver Space.