the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Making Fun of Twitter at the Hospital

It was claustrophobic in my FIL’s hospital room, so I took a walk down the corridor. As I walked past ICU, an old man beckoned to me from inside his room. I was reluctant to enter. I was unsure of hospital policy, and frankly, I didn’t want to get involved, but something — a bizarre curiosity, dragged me into the room, like a rope around my waist.

“Hello,” I said. “Can I help you? Do you want me to get you a nurse?”

“No, Father. I am ready to meet my Maker. To shake the hand of Jesus. To see my wife. I want you to give me my last rites.”

I was in a rush that morning, throwing a dirty black shirt over a dirty white t-shirt, and this elderly man, with his poor vision and medicated mind, was confusing me with a priest.

The beep of his heart monitor went erratic and a red light flashed. An alarm sounded with an emergency code. I could hear running in the corridor. This man was about to take his last breath. I was not a priest. I was not Catholic. But who was I to refuse this man his last moments?

“You are blessed,” I said, in the solemn tone of a hospital chaplain. “You have been a good man. Jesus and Mary love you!”

I was winging it. I tried to remember some movie scene involving a priest’s rites, one that I could steal from, but all I could think about was The Exorcist.

“Do you have an regrets about this life you lead on Earth? Would you like to speak them now.” I quickly asked, knowing that I only had a few seconds left with him.

“Yes,” he said, solemnly. “I regret not getting retweeted more on Twitter.”

And then he died.

The ICU unit was in chaos as I left his room. A male nurse ran in and tried to revive him, but I knew it was hopeless. He had already revealed all.

Truth quotient — 0%


I can understand how he felt. I have had my own regrets. I’ve been so busy in the hospital that I forgot to change my avatar on Twitter for those affected by the Haitian earthquake. I was finally going to do it yesterday, when I took a little break in the hospital cafeteria with my iphone, but I noticed that everyone had already changed their avatars to The New Orleans Saints for the Super Bowl, so I guess I missed out my chance! Life moves so fast online. I hate when I miss out on an avatar switch!

Truth quotient — 10%


It was Sophia’s step-father’s birthday yesterday. All the nurses in the unit – about 25 in total – came in with a cake and sang happy birthday. It was a beautiful moment.

I posted the photo on Twitter. I asked the nurses if any of them were on Twitter, and none of them were. Eh, I probably wouldn’t follow any of them anyway. Probably not very good writers.

Truth quotient — 95%


  1. PJ Kaiser

    Neil – I confess – u had me going on the first one – well done 😉 I knew the second was facetious (did I spell that right?) but I’m glad the birthday celebration was nice. By the way, do u have your #snowpocalypse avatar ready? 😉

  2. jenB

    Perhaps I am just in a sentimental state, but this is a lovely post.

  3. heather

    You are clearly someone moved by acts of compassion. Not always a whole lot of that on Twitter, eh? For all the angst of this trip for you, glad there have been a few moments to celebrate. You need a break and soon.

  4. mamatulip

    Right after my mother died, the charge nurse gathered all of the floor nurses and brought them in to the room. They formed a circle around my mother’s bed, her still in it, and said The Lord’s Prayer. I’m not religious at all, but I’ll never forget that moment – all of these familiar strangers with their heads bowed, holding hands with one another around my mother’s bed.

    It was a beautiful moment, a bright spot on an otherwise very dark day.

  5. mamie

    happy birthday, sophia’s stepfather. so nice that he had so many gather.

    and hey, don’t dismiss the medical professionals is non-writers. we just hide behind the medical jargon because we are scared.

  6. Elizabeth Harper

    Love this post! I’m coming back to see some more of you. I arrived by way of Wellington Road.

  7. Heather

    You are missed.

    But you are doing what needs to be done.

    And—I must say, another proud moment for NURSES! YAY!

    Good thoughts and prayers for your family daily…

  8. churlita

    I love that you put truth quotients on each anecdote. Sometimes it can be tricky figuring out how much of a story is true.

  9. Jenny

    LOVE IT! And, I guess you can call me a selfish, egocentric tweep – I don’t do banners and statement avatars. I only change my picture when I’m tired of that one and want a newer – surely prettier, right? – picture of ME on it. heh heh no lie.

  10. Amy

    Feel good post of the year 😉

  11. Kim @ Beautiful Wreck

    That was really nice of the staff at the hospital. Nice post.

  12. Pearl

    I hope the fact that the nurses rallied round him with a cake and birthday song helped lift his spirits and those of his family. It certainly lifted ours.

  13. Mary @ Holy Mackerel

    I totally believed the first one. ANd I still think it’s true. You just don’t want to admit it.

    I didn’t know you’re supposed to change your Twitter avatar. I am so behind in these things…

  14. wench

    Nice one, but does it matter if I don’t care if I’m never retweeted?

  15. nsb

    I laughed out loud at your priestly fiction. Well done.
    re: truth quotient – as my Irish grandfather said, “never let truth stand in the way of a good story.”

  16. 3boys1mommy

    Oooh! Did you anoint the dad of @shitmydadsays?

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