About two years ago, a nagging ache in my stomach came to a head.
It almost felt like someone was trying to pierce my bladder with a rapier over and over; like the chestburster scene from Alien, but much lower and much more real. The pain eventually subsided, but the problems had only begun. I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice it to say I was diagnosed with diverticulitis. It was such a severe case that the infection in my intestines ate through the wall between my bowels and my bladder. I’ll again spare further details; I trust you understand how disturbing, painful and often humiliating the condition became.
Important aside – as flawed as our health care system is, the people who run it are clearly doing the best they can. They saved my life in more ways than one. They tested me thoroughly, patched me up and watched over me. 811 was always there when I had questions, too, and I’m in much better shape now than I used to be. I’ll forever be grateful to the Canadian health care system as an American expat.
With that said, I was in bed for quite a while, barely able to sleep. My three hospital roommates were varying degrees of delightful and I think about them still from time to time. However, some medical humour, a casual lumber through the hospital halls and pit stop for water was only going to carry me so far. The worst of it was behind me, but an unease remained.
I was bored.
Fortunately, there are ways around this. My wife and her family have rekindled a love for board games in me, and even when I wasn’t recovering, it’s a great way to pass the time and spend time with each other. Granted, while this was difficult to do while I was home recovering by myself, having family and friends around to play some games and have some snacks is criminally underrated. My favourite games include Killer Bunnies (chaotic, long-term strategy game, hilarious), Guillotine (a family-friendly round of collecting heads), Balderdash (where my writing skills really shine) and Rummikub (A classic I always forget how to play almost immediately after every single time).
Podcasts did a great deal to keep me sane during times of medical distress. I listened to hours of The Adventure Zone, a podcast following a trio of brothers and their dad as they run through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Dead Pilot’s Society is another great choice, in which professional actors read comedy pilots the big studios rejected. Welcome to Night Vale is much like The Twilight Zone, but I wouldn’t recommend listening to it while at the hospital. Painkillers do weird things.
No matter what it is you’re into in this time of social distancing, it’s really important to keep our minds working and busy. It’s in those times of silence and solitude that worry can set in. Having worked and lived alone for many years, I know how lonely and debilitating that can be.
Let’s be kind to each other, stay busy, keep our spirits up and hunker down. It’s true we’re not sure how everything is going to shake out yet in terms of our collective health and wealth. But the truth is we have never been sure; we had faith, and we should hold on to that.
That fear of the unknown keeps even the most stalwart of us up at night. Everything can be handled one step at a time. Chin up, my dear readers. We’re more resilient than we think.
Oh, and leave some spare toilet paper on the shelf.