I did an interview with WoW Insider about a month ago and although Chris read me some of the comments, it took a while before I read them myself. I find it difficult to talk about my life most days. It’s an effort not to clam up and say that I am good and everything is fine. I really do appreciate when other people make an effort to understand and notice what I go through and take time to tell me that, but I don’t think it will ever be easy to accept kind wishes without feeling a little hypocritical. Everyone has bad days and I shouldn’t get special treatment just because I made my issues visible. The WoW Insider article made for an interesting month. I was amazed that people took the time to open a level 1 character on my server just to send me an in game email or whisper me. I was having a pretty bad day when I was flagged down on my polar bear in Dalaran and handed flowers by a stranger that has now become a friend that helps make every bad day a little easier by making me laugh when I didn’t think I could. I’ve had some good sci-fi book suggestions and in-game strategy suggestions and those I cherish.
Last night we were at Kologarn again and as I was at times crying so much that I had difficulty seeing my screen, I was reminded of one comment that was unexpected and made me think about playing in a way I hadn’t thought of before. The comment was: “While your story is amazing, with all the crap you have to deal with, how the hell is the game any FUN for you? It sound like me saying “Yeah, compound fracture in my leg… but it didn’t stop me from playing soccer”
My initial thought to that is the same as always. Life is what you make it. I can’t stop joint from dislocating and I can’t stop living because it hurts. I may dislocate my wrist picking up a cup of coffee, but I’m going to do it anyway, what else can I do. The less I use muscles, the worse it will get. I cannot stop doing things because it hurts me, I’ll never do anything. I simply have to find the level of activity that dislocates the least joints. No point picking up extra large and heavy mugs when I drink my morning coffee, for example. Playing WoW is the same. I don’t think gaming hurts me more than any other hobby, in fact, I think gaming hurts me less than most things. It is simply about finding the balance where I get hurt the least. Some nights that means I say yes to a three hour raid but no to a four hour raid. Or that I can relax on a BT fun run for five hours but I can’t be in Ulduar for half that time. Generally the more healing require in the shorter span of time, the more challenging play is. And every hour I play it gets a little harder. So I need to plan ahead for the last hour and sometimes, that last hour isn’t fun. But what came before it makes it worth sticking it out for.
Also, joint dislocations are bigger than just the game. I’ve had some pretty bad breathing problems on Friday and Saturday. When Chris isn’t around to help me use my inhaler, I tend to partially dislocate my wrist when I do so myself. Using an inhaler dozens of times over a few hours result in complete wrist and thumb dislocations and by Saurday afternoon, my left wrist was dislocating sponteously. Move it a little and it goes in and out rather painfully. Is playing in that state any fun at all? Yes, it is. It’s one of the few things that are fun. When I can’t breathe, I find it soothing to be logged into wow. It’s easier to breathe when I can stare at pretty scenery on my screen and turn up the in-game rain. I have been known to travel from zone to zone to find a spot in Azeroth where I can listen to virtual rain. One uses what one can to make life easier.
Playing WoW with a dislocating wrist is not like playing soccer with a broken leg. Broken bones heal. Crappy connective tissue remains crappy. Also, I’m in constant pain all the time and the pleasure of both the challenge and the shared experience of raiding is fun regardless. I enjoyed being in Ulduar last night. I think I’m finally starting to reach the point where I no longer feel that I have to make up for what I can’t do. I am going to have difficulties avoiding moving orbs and swirling fire volcanoes, but I get it and in learning that new skill I have actually made my life a little easier. I knew Kologarn was going to be hard and I was prepared for it and I didn’t mind that it hurt so much that it made me cry. For once I didn’t even mind that I died twice. It’s just fun being there.
Playing WoW with the challenges EDS creates is not like playing soccer with a broken leg. It’s more like playing soccer when you’re blind or deaf or paraplegic. I can sit on the side-lines and watch and not play, but I am not going to get better and I will not spend my life on the side-lines watching. I will participate and I will find things that I enjoy doing enough that the pain is less than the pleasure. I felt a little like a five year old again when we finally downed Kologarn. I was crying so much that my screen was a wash of colour and as I moved my character over I caught a glimpse of Auriaya and her cats and immediately went ‘ooohhh, kitties’. Imagination is an amazing thing to have and I really appreciate mine for all its vividness and strength. Books I cherish, but like everything else, I only watch from the sidelines. In WoW, I get to participate and interact in a fantasy world that I find very appealing. Sometimes part of the game is truly challenging, difficult and painful, but the challenge simply makes the rewards that much more meaningful.