My World of Warcraft story

Lots of people talking today about Robert Kazinsky, the hunky British actor playing Orgrim Doomhammer in the upcoming movie, “Warcraft”. He made the comment that the game, World of Warcraft, saved his life, and they discussed it seriously without the typical making fun of gaming or gamers as a whole. Some of my friends said I should share my story as well, on how Warcraft saved my life too.

 

Illidan Stormrage reminding you you’re not prepared
 I started playing about halfway through “Wrath of the Lich King”. I’d always liked role-playing games, and had heard good things so I thought I’d try it out. I had three young kids, 5/7/9, all 3 diagnosed on the Autistic spectrum, busy job, and wanted a good game to escape to at night after the kids were in bed. My oldest is the most affected by Autism, and I named my first character after him as a way to fantasize about him overcoming all his limitations. My son Alex became Alexithorn, the night elf Hunter. I played off and on for a month or so, and was having fun leveling up and exploring. I remember my first time taking the boat over to Stormwind and seeing how many other players there were (remember, this was WotLK days so realm population was big then), I met some great people and joined a guild. Then came Christmas, 2008, when everything changed.

On Christmas Eve 2008, we got the news that my wife had breast cancer. Didn’t make for a fun Christmas, and while I don’t think I was online Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I spent some time during the holiday escaping into Azeroth, using the leveling grind to take my mind off things while we waited for those first appointments to get the plan together for beating the cancer. I confided in a few trusted guildmates what was happening, one of them also with a wife fighting cancer. They were there for me, and we became friends offline as well. 

2009 was a bad year, no bones about it. My wife had surgery to remove the lump, then a grueling chemo regimen for about 6 months. After that, she had radiation to finish off the treatment in the fall of 2009. During that time, as husband and father, my job was pretty intense. I would get the kids ready for their school (kindergarten/2nd grade/4th grade), I would work full time at my job, then help get dinner and nighttime routine done for the kids. My wife would do as much as she could, but I focused on making sure she was able to have her time to recover between chemo treatments without worrying too much about the house and the kids. We had an incredible team of habilitation and respite workers through the disability programs we already had going with the kids, so that was a tremendous help as well. I also focused on keeping my wife’s spirits up, as mental attitude is half the fight when dealing with cancer. 

During this period, I spent a lot of time in Azeroth. It became my place to go to escape from the world of cancer, driving to and from appointments, helping to change IV bags at home, the stress of work, everything. My friends helped me recharge myself so that I could keep the positive attitude in real life. I imagined that I could leave my worries and troubles in Azeroth, as my character was strong and focused on saving the world from one evil or another. The mobs in the game became an analogue to me for fighting cancer itself, and I could beat that in game. Of course, then I found the Crusader Bridenbrad quests in Icecrown, and I was a blubbering mess. For those who might not be familiar with them, they were done as a tribute for a brother of someone at Blizzard Entertainment who died of cancer, and are heartbreakingly awesome. Those quests are still amazing to me, and I do them on each of my alts that have been leveled up over the years.

I guess my point is that without World of Warcraft in my life at that time, I don’t know that I would have made it through 2009 in a functional way. The stress was tremendous, and I probably would have snapped by the end of that first year. I wouldn’t have been able to keep my spirits up enough to help my wife with hers, which could have changed the course of the fight. I have so many difficult memories from that year, but they are offset by the good memories I have from friends, questing, and raiding through Azeroth and Northrend.

We won that fight in 2009, only to have it come back as Stage 4 in 2011. We fought it into remission the by the next year, where it stayed until this past summer when it woke up again. We’re still fighting, and keeping up hope for the future. Warcraft still plays a part in my life, though I don’t play nearly as much as I did that first year. Friends came back for the assault on Draenor, and will probably be back for Legion. I’ll keep fighting the demon hordes online, giving me the strength to fight the demons in real life.

For the Alliance, and Lok’tar Ogar

Andy

My World of Warcraft story

♪♪ Where have all…the white cells gone ♪♪

Man, can’t catch a break. White cell count and neutrophils haven’t changed. Teri’s had Neupogen shots the last two days and will get them again tomorrow to try and get those going, and the bone pain has already started from those. Trying to keep that under control, it’s not too bad so far. She’ll get the blood testing done again next Tuesday to see if they’re coming around. The doctor was recommending that she stay home as much as possible to reduce chance of any infections. See, this is where unvaccinated people really scare the shit out of me. Herd immunity is a real thing, people, and opting out of that social contract is directly impacting us at this point. Most of you already know my stance on vaccinations and the anti-vax crowd, so I’m not going into that here. But this is real life now, and it’s important.

I’m going to try to change topic over the next few days so I’m not as much of a downer. Not expecting much to happen at the homefront, Teri will get shots tomorrow and we wait until Tuesday to find out how it’s going. So no use dwelling on it, but it’s been rough this week so my posts have really be focusing on that. I’ll have some more fun things to talk about, I promise 🙂

Once my Xanax kicks in, that is…

♪♪ Where have all…the white cells gone ♪♪

Good labs (results) are hard to find…

So Teri’s been off the study drugs for about 3 weeks now. Was originally supposed to be 3 weeks on, 1 week off, but she had to stop the first run a week early because of the effect it was having on her. They were going to start the second run with a lower dose with the hope that she’d be able to better handle it, but her white cell and neutrophil counts were too low to start back. They wanted to see if she could recover without something like neupogen shots because she doesn’t tend to handle those well, and would test again this week.

She had a blood test yesterday morning early, but we were certain that the test was done wrong. Yesterday’s blood test, a stat order, we think was left sitting for about 6 hours before they actually ran it. We hadn’t heard from the nurses, so Teri called around 3pm and the nurses called to the lab to see where the results were. They hadn’t run them yet, they suddenly sounded panicked and said “you’ll have them within the hour”. The results came back with her neutrophils dropping from 1.2 to 0.2 (2.0 is the low end of “normal”) and they said she was at super high risk for infection. They also said there was some clotting in the blood, and we believed both of those things to be related to how the lab appeared to mishandle the blood sample. The study nurses agreed, and Teri went to a different lab for another test today. This isn’t rocket science, you have a stat order, that means you do it, right?

We have concerns about how that one was handled as well, as the listed “received” at 11:40am when she was there at 9am. Found that out when the nurses called over to find where the stat order was and the lab said it hadn’t been long enough yet. From that, sounded like the sample might have been sitting for a couple of hours as well, but who knows at this point. Anyway, this test had similar numbers with her white cell count tanking, so at the doctor’s insistence she had to go immediately to get some neupogen injections. Hopefully we can get her counts up enough to get back on the meds, or we’ll have to look at doing something different for treatment.

I’m still livid about the labs, though. Two separate times, two different labs, a stat order with a 4-hour commit was ignored, even after it was confirmed with Teri and put in the system for stat handling. Doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. She’ll likely go to the oncology office for the labs tomorrow, as they have a “stat” machine in their lab upstairs so they can process it within an hour and know how things are going.

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