The time WoW was a catalyst for the beginning of my diagnosis journey
Mar 25 2019
Back in "Wrath of the Lich King," I had to take off an entire raid tier because my hands hurt. I returned for ICC, the end raid for the expansion, but it hurt sometimes to play so much I cried out in person. I'd leave early. I'd sob for days. My left side hurt more than my right. Sometimes it wasn't pain, and it wasn't just my hands; I'd also lose feeling in my hands and feet. It wasn't just WoW that did it; I'd often lie down after class flat on my back with my hands and feet burning and watch TV because even holding a book hurt my hands. But I played a rogue, which was fairly famous for its strict rotation where deviations from it tanked the amount of damage you did.

For reference, I still remember the keybindings assigned to that rotation despite this being a story from 10 years ago: 22222 6 22222 1 222222 3, if time 22222 3 again. 2 was sinister strike, 6 was slice and dice (a timed self buff), 1 was rupture (a damage over time move), and 3 was eviscerate (called a finishing move).

The break happened mid-Ulduar, a raid so great people still talk about how wonderful it is, my ringtone is a song remix made from it, and I still use a screenshot of an event linked to it on my Twitter feed. While we're on that topic, I loved the idea of the boss Algalon, an optional boss, because the players stopped the destruction of the planet after arguing with the equivalent of a god and proving their strength by succeeding in the encounter. I found it inspiring, especially the NPC encounter afterwards, and felt that maybe I could overcome my own pain by proving my strength. During the encounter, Rhonin calls all players in the main city of Dalaran and says:

"Citizens of Dalaran! Raise your eyes to the skies and observe! Today our world's destruction has been averted in defiance of our very makers! Algalon the Observer, herald of the titans, has been defeated by our brave comrades in the depths of the titan city of Ulduar. Algalon was sent here to judge the fate of our world. He found a planet whose races had deviated from the titans' blueprints. A planet where not everything had gone according to plan. Cold logic deemed our world not worth saving. Cold logic, however, does not account for the power of free will. It's up to each of us to prove this is a world worth saving. That our lives... our lives are worth living."

But I missed the chance to participate in this event, because it hurt too much to play. I don't know if I'd have succeeded in it or not.

Anyway. That's not the point of this. The point of this blog post is really about community support. Now, I am sure I frustrated my guildies with my repeated early-leaving, my complaints, getting drunk to tolerate it and the absolutely ridiculous mistakes that happened because of it (e.g., walking up to a boss thinking I was stealthed but being very much visible), and the complaints. I complained a lot, too. Finally, a searing shock of pain was so intense I quit raiding and doing dailies, too, and it was the actual catalyst to seeing a doctor the next time I was in town at home. Because it was clear that use of my hand was getting worse, not better, and early on we all suspected it might be carpal tunnel where the feet pain was unrelated.

It was not. I'm now 31, not 21, and just received a diagnosis for RA.

However, I also have memories of guildies doing research with me, listening while I relayed test results, coming up with theories for the best possible explanation for my illness, and even commiserating. They helped me with dailies in ways I normally didn't need it. They forgave nights of reduced damage, and the loopiness that came with testing out possible diagnoses through medication when test results turned over nothing but more questions. They also came up with the theory before doctors did first that ended up being my reigning diagnosis for over a year.

Let me reiterate that: my friends in a video game were invested enough to come up with the most reasonable diagnosis, because they were listening enough.

There's no real ending to this story - I just wanted to tell the story about the time that really illustrates the power of gaming communities. Back to blog →