Monthly Archives: May 2014
When I was a teenager, my life revolved around music and the popular bands of the moment. This is going to date me a bit, but my big “crush” band was Duran Duran. I knew everything about them. Their birthdays, their height, where they were born; it was almost as if this information was more important than the music they actually produced. I had posters of them everywhere. I was desperate for every scrap of news or photo I could get of them. I was a total fangirl!
Flash forward to present day. Muse is my one of my favorite bands ever. I know little to nothing about them. I know of Matt Bellamy, I think one of the band member’s names is Dominic. I couldn’t tell you when they were born, where they were born (except the UK), and I probably wouldn’t recognize one of them on the street if I were to pass them. I don’t know their personal opinions on politics (except in song), equal rights, religion, or society as a whole. I only know that I love their music, their lyrics, and their melodies. That music strikes a chord within me that makes these other aspects unimportant.
It therefore puzzles me greatly how we, as a gaming community, have elevated our game developers to celebrity status. We treat them like rock stars, and we’re their adoring fans. Who are these people that so many of us should hang on their every word? Why should anyone be excited if they get a mention from one on Twitter? And why would we expect their words, whether through social media or in an interview, to be anything other than their personal opinion and thus they are entitled to it?
To me, these game developers are not celebrities. They’re employees. They work for a company. They get their paychecks with taxes and Medicare taken out just like everyone else. They get in to work in the morning and have to deal with their email inbox just like you and I. They are people. Just regular ol’ people working a J-O-B. And just like regular ol’ people, they have their own opinions about their job, the games they work on, and life in general.
Should it be a surprise when one of them makes a gaffe that implies that somehow their employer feels the same way as the employee? No. It’s to be expected. They’re not public relations people, they’re game developers. Dealing with the public is not their calling. And their word is not gospel. The owners and shareholders of their company have the final word. And that word will be issued in a carefully prepared press release, like any other company. One developer’s interview or tweet does not equate an entire company’s viewpoint. While it could be argued that it’s indicative of a systemic problem, it does not mean that every employee, manager, executive, owner, or shareholder of that company feels the same way.
We all know the latest controversy surrounding Blizzard, and from whence it came. There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not this employee’s words were taken out of context or twisted to fit an agenda. That’s not what I’m looking to solve here. I just want to remind you all to take one man’s word with a grain of salt. He’s just one person. He wasn’t reading a prepared press release; it was just him, shooting off the cuff. His audience has made him more important than he needs to be, and thus his words held greater weight than they deserved.
What we should all remember is how these games make us feel when we play them. The content and its immersive fantasy world is what compelled us to play to begin with. What do these games touch within us? By and large, we’ve all enjoyed Blizzard games for years. There may be reasons why we decide that these games are no longer for us: lack of content, repetitiveness, other hobbies, real life, or the feeling that the game doesn’t reflect our society as we see it. But don’t let one employee’s remarks change how you view something that once gave you pleasure. He’s just a guy. A regular ol’ guy, like the rest of us.
Let’s go back to a slightly over a month ago.
I left my union’s Board of Director’s meeting on a Thursday evening, full of excitement. It was my birthday on Saturday, but it wasn’t just that. I was getting ready to board a plane early Friday morning to head to Boston for Pax East, the big video-game convention. I was going to meet some friends that I knew from Twitter, and I was eagerly anticipating spending my first birthday with my boyfriend. All seemed full of promise. Who was to know that what would happen next would completely change my life, possibly forever.
My schedule is always hectic. I’m always busy, always running to the next appointment. Problems with insomnia and stress leave me feeling exhausted more often than not. Meetings, political events, work, a long and aggravating commute, they all build up. I was already worn out by the time I hit Boston. My arthritic knee was throbbing, the sciatic nerve issue I had was angry. Gimpy and tired, I hobbled around Pax, had a lovely birthday dinner on Saturday…and that’s when the chain of events started that would eventually take me down. In the wee hours of Sunday morning, I felt sick to my stomach. I wasn’t sure if I had food poisoning or a stomach virus. All I knew was I was burning up with fever, I couldn’t even keep water down, and I was locked in the bathroom most of the day. I was dehydrating fast, and despite my BF bringing me juice, water, and some salty crackers, I remained sick that entire day and night. Monday morning dawned, I knew I had to fly home. Still feeling ill, I continued to drink very little fluids and didn’t chance much in the way of food. My flight wasn’t non-stop, I had a short hop to Chicago, and then the 4hr plus flight from Chicago back to SoCal.
You read all sorts of things about Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), but you never think it’ll happen to you. A blood clot can form in your body for a number of contributing factors, travel being one. I never bothered wearing fancy compression stockings for travel. I didn’t get up and walk in the plane. I was dehydrated. I sat locked in one position for the entire 4hr flight. My doctors think this is what caused the clot to reach critical mass. But it may have started at any point. This was my third cross-country trip in less than three months. Plus, I sit too much at work without taking proper ergo breaks. And, I’m a gamer. I spend hours sitting at my desk in the evenings and on weekends, playing games, losing track of time, and not taking breaks to stretch or move around. Immobility is a tremendous risk factor for DVT.
When I returned home, I naturally was worn out from travel and having that stomach bug. My right leg really hurt me. I assumed I had overdone the walking and was feeling the anger of an arthritic joint pushed past its limit. My calf really ached and throbbed, too, but again, I chalked it up to muscle strain. As the week wore on, I became increasingly more exhausted. Surely, I thought, resting over the weekend would help.
But it didn’t help. I actually started to feel worse. By Easter Sunday, the slightest activity set my lungs gasping for air and my heart thundering out of my chest. I knew something was wrong. At the urging of my boyfriend and another friend, I opted to go to my medical clinic’s urgent care. My EKG was normal, but as soon as the doctors learned of my air travel, they suspected that I had a blood clot in my lung, a pulmonary embolism (PE), brought on by DVT in my leg that broke loose and travelled through my veins. Wasting no time, the urgent care staff summoned an ambulance and rushed me to the hospital’s emergency room.
It was at this point I became truly frightened, because I realized that this could kill me at literally any point. A PE can break loose, sending the clot to the brain or heart, which could result in permanent impairment, or an almost instant death. 2/3 of PE deaths occur within 30 minutes. Once at the hospital, a battery of tests, including a CT scan, confirmed the diagnosis, PE in both lungs. I spent two days in the ICU (intensive care unit), basically locked down to the bed because the doctors didn’t want me to move and possibly dislodge the clot. I spent another two days after that in a regular room, and I was discharged with a new lifestyle: I was going to have to be on blood thinners (anti-coagulant therapy) for at least 6 months as the PE slowly dissolves, and to prevent the formation of any new clots.
Anti-coagulant therapy is no joke. Your blood is brought to a point where it’s very hard to clot at all, even after minor injuries. I was told to be careful in the kitchen, to switch to an electric razor, to avoid falls, and if I should hit my head, that I should seek emergency room help immediately as even the slightest trauma can trigger a brain bleed. I now sport a Medic-Alert bracelet in case of an accident where I can’t speak for myself, so that providers will know I’m on blood thinners. My blood’s clotting rate needs to be tested constantly because of the danger of spontaneous bleeding if my blood is too thin. I have to avoid all foods with Vitamin K, because Vitamin K helps with clotting. It’s not an easy or comfortable lifestyle at all. If I’m lucky, I’ll be off in six months. But if I should show signs of forming another clot, there are no second chances. I’ll be on anti-coagulants for life after that.
To prevent DVT and its complications, some things to remember are:
1. Move. Try to get some exercise daily. Make sure you take frequent ergo-breaks from your desk or game to get up, stretch, move around, get your circulation going a bit.
2. Exercise your calf muscles while you sit. Try raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor, then raising your toes while your heels are on the floor.
3. Make lifestyle changes. Lose weight, quit smoking (nicotine is a clotting culprit), watch hormone pills (birth control or the like), exercise, eat healthy.
4. Consider using compression stockings for any extended travel or desk time. Their efficacy for preventing clots and swelling of the legs and feet are well established.
I was reminded by a nurse that there are millions of us out there with silent killers lurking in our bodies. 80% of PE victims show no signs. I was lucky that I had symptoms that told me something was wrong before it was too late, and I acted on it. But it’s important to remember that none of us should ever think that something like this won’t happen to us. It can happen to anyone. Don’t let it happen to you.