As I mentioned earlier I've just finished a stint in the hospital, and while this isn't the kind of thing I'd normally discuss here at PTB, so many of you out there have expressed concern for me and asked just what happened to pull me away from the Internet for over a week. The gory (and I do mean gory) details are below. There's not much to say related to gaming this time, so those of you who'd rather hear my thoughts on Sonic and the Secret Rings or the recent release of Kid Icarus for the Wii's Virtual Console ought to check back later.
I've lived with Crohn's Disease since the age of thirteen. Diagnosed in 1994, I spent my teenage years dealing with the illness alongside all of the usual milestones of growing up. In 2003 I had to have surgery to remove a portion of small intestine that was just too damaged to function, putting me out of commission for nearly six months. I bounced back from that incident, however, and had been cruising along through life without a major medical incident until about two weeks ago when my abdomen began to swell. I looked as if I'd swallowed a whole cantaloupe and half of the melon was poking out of my gut. I wound up in the emergency room in great pain, and after some x-rays I was admitted into the hospital itself.
As the x-rays and other tests soon revealed, a wayward section of intestine had grown away from the main digestive line and was instead heading for the outside world via my surgery scar. The swelling was caused by intestinal gunk building up in a cavity between my intestine and my skin. Nearly a week after the swelling had started the cavity broke open in a disturbing scene seemingly ripped out of Resident Evil. All manner of horrible fluids and blood burst free, leaving a horrible sickening splat upon the floor. As terrible as that was, it was actually for the best. With the bulk of the gunk gone the infection could be healed with antibiotics. As for that stray piece of intestine, it can be handled with medication as well, although it will take up to one year to be fully controlled. In the meantime I have to watch for the risk of developing another swollen pocket of goo.
But why did this happen now? These kinds of things don't happen in a vacuum. Additional tests revealed that my nutrition levels are severely depleted. Although I can eat solid food, my body doesn't pull any nutrients from those delicious sandwiches and slices of pizza. Vitamin pills go unabsorbed as well. The solution? I now have a special tube installed in my arm that runs inside my shoulder, across my chest, and lets out in a blood vessel just above my heart. Each night I must hook that tube up to a bag of liquid nutrients and vitamins that I can absorb through my bloodstream. The bag of fluid and the pump that drives it are carried around in a special backpack, although I don't have to leave the house with it. At the end of the day I just plug in and go to sleep. Twelve hours later after I wake up I just disconnect and go on with my day. It's a hassle, yes, but it is giving me some much needed energy and nutrition. I lost 100 lbs. last year that I've been attributing to the Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix exercise program, but as it turns out that weight loss was the result of my body feeding on itself to stay alive. I was basically starving to death with a mouthful of food.
I'm very lucky that things worked out the way that they did in that my problem has been identified before it was truly too late (although while in my hospital bed I overheard a doctor tell a nurse that based on my x-rays and test results I should have been dead by now). I'm expected to make a full recovery, and as I said the nightly fluid bags are only needed for a month. I can eat regular food, although it's questionable how much nutrition I absorb from it at the moment. I'm waiting on one last test result to learn about that. In the meantime I'm rebuilding myself and trying to get my life back to normal. I've been through rough times with my health over the years, so the way I see it this is just the latest chapter in an ongoing story.
So, with all of that said, let me just thank everyone out there who e-mailed to ask if I was alright or left comments here on PTB wishing me a speedy recovery. It means a lot to me that I've earned the respect of so many of you. I look forward to speaking my mind about the world of video games for a long time, damaged intestines be damned.
Now then, that's enough serious stuff. Who's up for a round of Diddy Kong Racing DS?