This is not a typical post of mine. It is pretty serious, and is about an event that occurred to me the previous weekend. So, if you don’t want to read something serious that is only tangentially (at best) related to gaming, please don’t click through. Out of respect for those who would rather not read something like this in their “fun” readings, I have put all the details below the fold.
This story has a story and discussion about miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, hospitals, and the emotions surrounding all of this. There may also be some black humor around some of it, and I am sure there is some blue language as well (aka “swears”). If any of this is a trigger for you, please don’t keep reading – your health (mental and physical) is super important. Don’t worry – I will get back to posts about gaming stuff any day now, I swear!
Before I go any further, I want to state that this post has a different commenting policy than normal – in that there is a policy. Please don’t get on a grandstand about how something I did or said is “immoral” – I have no patience right now, and I will permanently ban your ass from ever commenting here again. If you know me personally, talk to me about it in person. If not, you have no damn place to tell me what is moral or immoral. If you are trying (or seeming to try) to get under my skin, I will again ban you without a second thought. Seriously – if you want to grandstand, get your own damn blog.
My wife and I were pregnant. We were not very far along – about 5-6 weeks or so, depending on how you measure it. But, when she started bleeding heavily, we knew something was wrong. After an emergency run to get her HCG levels tested, it turned out she (we) was (were) miscarrying. While not horrible, it was a little bit of a letdown. We both had some emotional strain over it, but we were quickly accepting the situation.
The problem with a miscarriage, is that people think “Oh, it is just like a really heavy period.” Wrong. So wrong. I cannot even begin to tell you how wrong that is. First, there is the psychological impact. Some people are very heavily impacted. We both have a pretty good understanding of the biology, and so the grief was quick to come and leave for us. But for some people it can last over a year. Different people process grief differently.
On another note, the pain from a miscarriage is indescribable. My wife described the pain as one of the most painful things she has ever experienced. She is not one to speak about pain, thinking she should just “get through it.” When she told me she needed pain killers, as she sat and shook (and puked), I knew she was in pain. As I thought more about it, it made sense. When miscarrying, one is effectively giving birth. All of the cramping and pushing and whatever else the body goes through during birth are happening during a miscarriage. The only difference is the size of the fetus – in this case, it is very small. But the pain is still there. I have heard many women describe it as more painful than giving birth, and as neither are something I will ever experience (or desire to experience), I will take their word for it.
Bad To Worse
After she had passed “the” egg sac (there was one that was passed at this time), we thought she should start getting better. The problem was that the bleeding kept happening for 5 days. On Friday evening, about 11 PM, she suddenly had huge amounts of pain. She was unable to walk without assistance, and was doubled over sobbing. After a quick consultation with the physician on call, I took her to the emergency room. They immediately wheeled her in, got her on pain meds, did a preliminary ultrasound, and called in the ultrasound specialist. An hour later, after another set of ultrasounds, they came in to say that we had an ectopic pregnancy, and the OB on call was coming in to talk to us about the options.
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy where the egg implants outside the uterine lining. It is commonly done in the fallopian tubes, and in this case that is exactly what had happened. Remember how I mentioned that she had passed an egg sac already? Yeah, this was a surprise. Turns out, we were super fertile that month – we had two eggs ready to go! And from such events are nightmares made…
So, her fallopian tube had stretched to the point where it was bruising, and she had internal bleeding. Her bleeding had increased from the fallopian tube’s bleeding, and the tube looked to be in trouble. Scary thing about ectopic pregnancies – they are fatal if not treated. As a husband, as someone who cares very deeply for his spouse, I was terrified. I knew all of this – hell, we had even researched before we decided to try having a child if our local hospital was one that would deal with an ectopic pregnancy in a responsible, informed way (rather than a brutish, childish, backwards way). I am very grateful for the fact that they were willing to perform the necessary surgery.
While the pain of the misplaced fetus was immense, and traumatizing, the surgery went through without a hitch. From my perspective, it took forever. Of course, this was around 3:30 AM, having been awake since 7:00 AM the previous morning, and having to call both of our parents, and close friends, to let them know what was happening. Parents who didn’t know we were even trying to have a child. Yeah, that was a fun set of conversations.
That said, the pain for my wife is still there. She had to have three holes cut (small holes), one for a camera, and two for the surgical implements to remove the fallopian tube. 2 days later, she is still in pain, has problems walking around on her own, and the like. So, this means I stay home with her and take care of her. Thankfully, I have a job where I can work from home.
What Does This Have To Do With Gaming?
You ever have one of those weeks where nothing seems to let up on you? How about one of those months? This is how January has been for me. Every time I get time to paint or play, I am already so exhausted from my other obligations that I can barely think straight, let alone hold a brush steady.
Let me state this as clearly as I can – my wife has the worst end of this situation. She is going through tons of pain, and needs help. It is awful as an independent adult to have to ask for help to do simple things, like walking between rooms, or getting a glass of water.
But this extra help does have a price on me. It means that my time is spent helping her. I don’t begrudge it, or care that much. But it does mean that my plans to paint all weekend were completely derailed, and I don’t know when I will get the next chance.
Since my wife needs my help around the house, and needs me here to help her through even simple daily routines, I really canot go out for any period of time. If I want to get a game in, it will have to be at my house. Since she is not feeling well, she generally doesn’t want a lot of people (or really much of anyone) floating around the house, playing games and rolling dice. This hurts the gaming time.
And the big one – priorities. I could tell her to bugger off, I am going to go play damnit! But, that isn’t my priority. As they say in various development circles – you can only have one #1 priority. And mine is my wife. Always has been. (Warning: Sappy Mushy Stuff® incoming!) I care more about her health and safety than I do my own, and I continue to feel that way. I wouldn’t trade her for all the time in the world, and I am grateful that she is here with me.
Wait, Why Write This Again?
Look, here is the thing. Real life happens. To everyone. Whether or not you want it to. I had planned on getting some Warmachine in on Sunday – didn’t happen. My wife needed me at home to help her. I had planned to paint – didn’t happen. All of this is OK. But, the key is that I accept that it is the case and move on. The problem is when other people don’t accept this.
While I have not run into this situation with this particular crisis, I have seen it in the past. Someone has something bad happen in their life, and has a hard time making it to gaming/has to cancel plans/etc. Priorities are priorities. Sometimes the hobbies, hanging out, and fun have to drop by the wayside while life sorts itself out. Sometimes we need MORE fun and games to get through the hard times. The key is trying to be understanding. It sounds like a bad greeting card, but it is true. Do I wish I could have painted up my Nihilators this weekend? Hell yes I do. It wasn’t going to happen. So, I had to accept this, and move on.
The next time a friend of yours who has a disability, sick family member, kids, etc. says “no, I can’t do that – too busy.” Believe them. If you really want them to come along, ask if there is anything you can do to help, or even better, just do it. If you know they are having a hard time getting dinner made, (trust me, cooking is a lot of work!) buy them dinner or make them a main dish. If you know they can’t keep up with the yard work because of a bad back, occasionally mowing the lawn for them will help.
Again, tangentially (at best) related to gaming, but something to remember. We often don’t see our own privilege until it is taken away from us. Until this last weekend, I was in the camp of “lots of free time this weekend – I will paint!” And now, I am not. I will better appreciate the free time I do have as my wife heals up, and will spend the time with her, enjoying the fact that I get to have her another day thanks to wonderful doctors and nurses.