Thanksgiving this year was a very mixed one for me. On one hand, it was a great and wonderful time. I had realized just how much older I’ve become, as my nephews and nieces are now on the latter half of their adolescence. They were now capable of cooking and preparing parts of Thanksgiving when it was, in recent years, the responsibility of my sisters and myself (my sisters taking the spotlight because they were the masterful cooks in the family). This was the greatest Thanksgiving our family has ever prepared. Every single dish was amazing! So many people came out and the house was warm with laughter, singing, and a drunken mess.
On the other hand, I was confronted with my mortality early on in the day. Sporadically, randomly, and completely new to me.
I had a seizure Thursday morning
It was after I had a delicious meal with my wife, Lily. There were some leftovers from Crabsgiving (my friends and I threw a nice pre-thanksgiving meal just for friends) and we tossed it in with the chicken soup my mom prepared as an appetizer for the early-birds.
It was delicious, even though the shrimp spent 5 days in the fridge. Lily and I went upstairs to our room, and I started playing the beta for the upcoming MMO that some of my online friends were raving about: Blade and Soul.
About ten minutes into the session, I find myself at a specific moment… just completely lose my place in the world. I felt as though my soul were pulled from my body, and so it desperately tried to fight its way back to control my mind and my body. I could feel sweat forming all over my face, and I was losing feeling all over my body. Nothing felt sharp–everything was just dull and distant. I stood up, took off my headset, and made my way over to my wife who was right there behind me. I thought I just was having a strange headache, but then the world get really light and dizzy. I could feel myself slipping.
I told her to call 911.
At this point, my poor wife was in tears, trying her best to exercise her medical knowledge to assess what was happening to me–was I having a heart attack, a stroke, whatever–but I was far too stubborn, ignorant, and frankly unresponsive to give her helpful responses. She felt so distant to my hearing, as though she were an echo on the other side of the house. I thought that I was just feeling uncomfortable. I decided that the ambulance was going to come, help me figure out what was going on, and then that would be it. I could feel my bowels moving too, so I thought it a good idea to use the restroom before the help arrived.
I staggered out of the room, and I’m pretty sure my wife was yelling at me the whole time to lie down. I didn’t listen. I slipped. I couldn’t stand. I could barely walk. I was going in and out of consciousness. According to my wife, I just fell forward onto the floor, completely unresponsive to what my brain was telling me. My face was beet red. I still stubbornly tried to make it to the bathroom. Once I made it, I overshot the toilet and just fell onto the floor.
My wife went to our room to get help. She was scrambling. I was alone, and I stupidly tried to make another attempt at the toilet. I miss. I fall. I fade away, and I could feel my bowels leaving my body and I cannot move anymore. This is when my memory gets extremely hazy, but my wife tells me that I was jerking around, my eyes rolled to the back of my head, and my mouth agape… frothing. I was having a seizure.
When I come to, I’m greeted by Jeff, the EMT. They lift me on some sort of board and take me out to the ambulance. It’s hard for me to talk, and I feel this intense urge to just close my eyes and fall asleep, but I’m just so terrified that I force myself awake. Amid all this horror, the EMT asks for what hospital to take me to, and apparently I told the guy:
“Take me to the hospital that takes my insurance.”
Look at me. Priorities are totally in line, hah.
It was then in the ambulance, as I felt myself fighting to stay awake, clutching my wife’s hand as I could see the tears rolling down her face as she’s so completely distraught. Still, she carries a smile for me, giving me strength. As an aside, let me just tell you how completely happy and lucky I am that I have such an amazing woman at my side until forever ends. I love you, Lily.
I started to have some very morbid thoughts. I stabilize, and I see how worried my wife is. I think about how my old father who never moves at a pace beyond 5mph ran up the stairs to see what was going on. He must’ve been so worried too when he was just outside doing yardwork and saw an ambulance pull up to our front door. I start thinking about my mother, who I both hate and love passionately. I think about how she’s going to yell at me after this, about how I play too many games and that I’m unhealthy or something. Then I think about how much it would hurt for my sisters when they hear this news. I’m supposed to help prepare Thanksgiving–that’s what our family does. My line of thinking is not right, of course, but it is what it is. I start thinking about death.
What if I had died?
What if I left my wife, whom I just married a month ago, alone in this world to fend for herself? My parents, who love me and give me every single opportunity to do well in this world (even though I don’t take advantage of those opportunities as often as they’d like) would be without a son. To my older sisters, who despite my coldness, always try their best to be warm to me and my wife? My friends, whom I pledge my brotherhood to… We’d always talk about how we’d all buy a cul-de-sac together and raise our kids together as one big neighborhood. What if I just disappeared from their lives right then and there?
I felt an immense wave of grief wash over my mind. The ambulance, loud from the siren, from Jeff the EMT trying to just make small talk to keep me awake, from the I-love-yous exchanged with my wife; they were all silent as we made our way to the hospital. I was just thinking about what would happen if I were to just cease to live right then and there.
After I was cleared, I left the hospital feeling so many different things. Guilt. Regret. Sorrow. Anger. Disappointment.
It made me think about my gaming. The one activity–my “hobby”–that consumed the most time out of my free time. What did I gain out of it? I have made friends from it, yes. I have had fun, yes. But was it all worth it? The countless hours? The weeks clocked in cumulatively on Call of Duty, Battlefield, Minecraft, or whatever else I played… did they amass to anything? Some, yes… but ultimately, I had wasted my time on some very unproductive things. What did I have to show for it?
I spend so much money and time in an activity that is, for the most part, fruitless. It yields no real skill that I think I can say make me that better of a person. Yeah, I’ve got some cultural capital. Okay, I’ve made some friends from it (that’s probably the biggest redeeming factor). However, I haven’t produced any product nor learned any major life skill from gaming. It was a form of entertainment–and I overdosed on it.
Honestly, I’m afraid to game now.
I’ve decided that I need to greatly cut out my consumption of video games from my life. An hour, sure… but no more week-long binges. No MMOs. No more sitting at the computer playing CS:GO from when I wake to when I slumber. Captain Obvious, I know, but it’s so unhealthy and detrimental to my well-being. I need to stop.
I’ve decided to make some changes. The biggest change is honestly cutting back on my gaming hours and devoting that time to other activities and hobbies that I feel will produce so much more for my life and allow me to grow better than any game can provide. I still love gaming, and I still want to game (I can’t imagine going cold turkey on this drug of mine), but I know that this cannot keep on, or else I will live my life to the end of its days unhappily and with regret.
This post is the start of it. I can’t say I promise, because I know it will be difficult for me to curb my already established habit of gaming for hours a day. This is just my declaration that I need to change my life for the better.
Here’s what I’m hoping to change:
- Write more. Blog like this and/or go back to my roleplaying roots.
- Manage my finances better. I want to take my wife on a trip or even go on a trip for myself (sounds selfish, right?). I want to see the world before I can’t anymore.
- Run/bike. Winter’s coming, so that’ll be difficult, but this is the time to start establishing good habits. I’m already biking to work, so that’s good.
- Read. I’m a goddamn English teacher and I can’t get myself to sit down and read books. What the hell?
There’s plenty more for me down the road to change and improve, but this is my starting point. 2016 isn’t here just yet, but here’s to a new me. A better me.