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Feb 25

When Life Is Not A Game

As you may have guessed from the name of this website, Lifeingames.com, I have spent a lifetime playing, designing, studying, and most importantly enjoying games.  Games, and gaming, are an integral part of my life and have been for as long as I can remember.  They have paid my rent, gotten me jobs, taught me countless lessons about life, provided me with endless hours of fun, and introduced me to a core group of friends that are like family.  However, there are times in everyone’s life that the fun is put on hold for far more pressing concerns and one comes face to face with unavoidable truth that life is not a game.  My most recent run in with this fact has thus far been, the entirety of 2013.

On January 2nd, my wife and I loaded up the vehicle and headed to St. Louis for the funeral of my mother’s brother, and my uncle, Tom.  He had passed away at the end of 2012 from cancer, and while the funeral was not a shock as we knew his time was growing near, it did not make things any easier.  He was a good-hearted man who loved my sister and I like we were his own children, as he had none of his own, and will be sorely missed.  As a veteran, he was given a very moving military burial on a brisk winter day fit only for a funeral.  After one more day spent in St. Louis mourning with, and consoling friends and family, it was back to Indianapolis.

For a brief period of time things returning to normal, until I received a fateful phone call from my father at 11:55 P.M. on January 29, informing me that my mother was being rushed to the hospital in ambulance suffering from seizures and on the verge of dying.  Needless to say, I rushed to meet up with Dad, and we hurried to the emergency room fearing the worst.

Upon arriving, we were informed that she was experiencing some sort of severe reaction to the mixture of medications that she was on and all that could be done was to treat the symptoms while waiting for her system to clear.  Far from comforting words as you hold your mother’s hand through violent seizures that send her eyes glassy, stop her breathing, and cause foaming at the mouth.  On more than one occasion, I have been accused of being an emotionless robot, but if you are able to endure such an experience without tasting the emotional cocktail of anger, disgust, sadness, and fear that ran through me, you are a stronger person than I.

Shortly after moving Mom to the ICU, we were informed that her blood pressure and heart rate had dropped so low that she was in grave danger.  The cardiologist told us that he needed to install a temporary pacemaker to even things out and allow heart to stabilize while the medication wore off.  However, he warned us that with such low blood pressure, it would be very difficult to locate the jugular vein, through which the pace maker would be implanted. This meant there would be a serious risk of hitting the carotid artery instead, and causing her to bleed out.  You know the situation is grim, when the best option available is to tell the doctor to go ahead and cut your mother’s throat and hope for the best.  Thankfully, he was a surgeon of great skill and implanted the temporary pacemaker without a hitch.

Over the next few days there were a few more close calls, but eventually the medicine cleared her system and everyone, doctors included, concluded that the worst was behind us.  That is until, after having been moved into a low observation rehabilitation facility to regain her strength, she stopped breathing and her heart stopped with my Dad in the room!  He called for help and the nurses came running.  After some brief CPR, she came right back around and felt as though nothing had happened. While we were eternally grateful to the nurse for her heroic application of CPR, we were then eternally puzzled by their actions afterward.  For some reason we could not convince them that she needed to be moved to a more closely monitored facility until the morning which led to a very fearful night.

After further examination, a new cardiologist determined that the reaction had caused damage to the electrical regulatory system in her heart and thought it best to install a micro defibrillator to prevent a repeat of the incident in the recovery room.  We were relieved to hear that, and after a fairly simple operation we finally had Mom back home!

Unfortunately, the defibrillator has not functioned properly since it was first put in, and she has been back in and out of the hospital over the last three weeks as they try to get the problems resolved.  She is supposed to come home tomorrow, and we are all hoping it is for good this time.

Lastly, both of my step-kids, Katie and Jarrett, managed to come down with some kind of nasty virus that was not the flu, but just as bad.  With fevers running as high as 103 degrees my wife and I had to keep a close eye on both kids as we tried to nurse them back to health.  After about a week they finally shook whatever it was that had made the sick.

Needless to say, my family has been through the ringer during the early part of 2013.  This has resulted in me neglecting a number of important things including, but not limited to, this blog.  I have wanted to write a number of times. I have even sat down and opened the page with the intention of writing a number of times, but for some reason I could not bring myself to do it.  My mind told me it needed done, but my heart just was not up to the task.  I felt tired in my body and mind, but especially in my spirit.  I just could not bring myself to write about games while in the midst of such serious events.  That is why I felt the need to write this article about the challenges my family and I have been going through in the last two months.  It is not an attempt to receive and outpouring of support, condolences, or well wishes, although they are certainly appreciated, but rather as more of a personal catharsis.  I feel that by expressing all of the stressful events and emotions that I have been going through in an article it will allow me to move forward, and to some extent give me permission to once more write about good and happy things.  For while I never stop living my life in games, it has never been more crystal clear to me then at times like these that life is not a game.

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  1. Darrell Stewart

    You sir have my support, condolences and well wishes but more importantly you have yourself and your family in my prayers. Life really is in a way still a game as you try to get from point A to point Z as comfortably and with as little pain as possible.

  2. I appreciate the kind words old friend! It has been a rough start, and as someone not well versed at expressing my emotions I just needed to get it all off of my chest so that I could get busy on the things I had been letting slide. I felt better the instant that I wrote it!

  3. Michael Sherman

    🙂

  4. Jeff Atkins

    They say “what doesnt kill you makes you stronger”… I’m not exactly sure who THEY are but apparently THEY are pretty wise.. Hang in there buddy and if you need to chat about LIFE or GAMES I’m here 🙂

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