Video Games Can, Indeed, Save Your Life.

On the last day of January, I was tidying up after a meeting, and I started to feel unwell. Having just eaten lunch, I reckoned it was a spot of food poisoning. I managed to make it home without incident, sent my spouse to the symphony without me, and went straight to bed, hoping that I would wake up, be violently ill, and feel immediately better.

However, by the time he got home from the concert, the general pain in my stomach had migrated to the lower right quadrant of my abdomen. I told him that if the pain got worse, I was taking myself to the emergency room, because if it was what I suspected, it was something with which one does not mess.

Dear Reader, it got worse.

So in the wee hours of the first day of February, I drove myself to the emergency room. While I was lying in the examination room waiting for all the various tests to come back, I messaged friends and family who were awake in their respective time zones and sent emails notifying the various places that I was supposed to sing that weekend that I was in the hospital.

Everybody kept asking me if I was in pain (yes) and if I was scared or worried (no). Why wasn’t I worried or scared, you ask? Because I knew exactly what I was dealing with. My symptoms were absolutely textbook for appendicitis. I even texted a friend, “If this isn’t appendicitis, I’m going to eat my hat,” I said. And lo, my hat remains uneaten.

So how does someone with no medical experience beyond lifeguard training know what the textbook symptoms for appendicitis are?

The answer: video games!

When I was a kid, my siblings and I played loads of DOS computer games, including one called Life and Death. In it, you play a doctor who diagnoses patients based on reported symptoms and a physical examination, and then operates, if necessary.  If you diagnose and treat the patient without killing them, awesome! But if you diagnose patients incorrectly or kill them in surgery, you get booted back to the “medical school” part of the game.

This game was really hard. We never once had a patient survive our attempts at surgery (though some YouTube wizard managed it!). BUT! All those attempts meant that we got really good at the diagnosis part of the game, and the most common ailment that required surgery was appendicitis.

So thanks to that late-80s DOS game, I knew to get my sad and sore self to the ER in time to have my appendix removed before it ruptured, thus allowing me to go home later that same morning and with a 2-3 week recovery time instead of twice that.  Or, y’know, possibly dying of sepsis. So that’s a big ol’ *whew*!

A month later, I’m pleased to report that I’m getting back into the saddle on some music prep and writing tasks that I had to postpone while I was recovering from surgery. And I have some super cool singing stuff coming up this month!

It’s also time to start falling down a few research holes regarding the sci-fi novel I am determined to finish drafting in 2020. I am so excited to have the energy to work on it again! Now, if I can get through  War Requiem, I might even have the time to work on it, too!

And speaking of writing, please enjoy this poem that I wrote about the Long Low Ladies, who were most excellent company while I convalesced.

The Nursemaids

As Clara’s nose is heavenward, is Hildegard’s below.
As Clara breathes each breeze and bird, all paths does Hildy know.
So Hildy pulls us both along, while Clara lags behind.
When Hildy’s hunting, proud and strong; foul leavings Clara finds.

A pair well-matched, though different as midnight is to noon.
One blithe, the other diffident, to subtlety immune.
Such joy and flying ears in bounds and digging in the loam.
My stubbornly determined hounds, who guard our hearth and home.

As through the bushes you will plow, pursuing Enemies.
I lack words to say just how beloved you are to me.
Whilst lying in my healing bed, on either side are curled
My dachshund nursemaids, black and red, my brave protectors furled.

As weariness descends, I seek my therapeutic rest
I relish not another week with injury depressed.
So I shall hold this precious time with my most cherished pets,
In heart and mind that it may prime repose without regrets.

And since I have been remiss about sharing doggy photos, please enjoy this one of the top of Clara’s head this past Sunday at Fiesta Island. Apparently, I sill had some sticky lip gloss on from the morning service when I gave her a head smooch right before she and Hildegard found a good place to dig. This was the dusty result.


Here’s hoping for a significantly less dramatic month to come!

Smooches (the non-sticky and germ-free sort) to All!


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