My personal hell (and why I will now be giving away 130 GG!!)
GeekGold giveaway results!
First of all, I want to say that the show of support in response to this GeekList was absolutely overwhelming. Even though the replies were in response what I had written, it is clear to me that the love and support was directed not just at myself, but at all those within our community who are suffering physical and mental hardships.
So thank you all VERY much for your many kind words, and for those who chose to express your support through thumbs and tips. I attempted to send a personal GeekMail to all 84 users who tipped this list, but if I missed you (or sent you multiple messages!) I apologize and want to make sure you know that I am ever so grateful!
So on to the giveaway! First, I tipped 1 each to 20 users who had the courage to share, as comments within the GeekList, their own personal stories of illness, struggles, and hardships. Second, user Haggis was the recipient of the 30 for creating the 2 MicroBadges (of which he promptly gave 15 to user dedbob for initiating the design process).
And the 4 prizes of 25 ? I have to admit, when the tips started pouring in and I began to experience BGG wealth beyond my wildest dreams, my Scrouge-like nature started to see visions of GeekBadges and UberGeekBadges and MicroBadges... But I didn't want to leave anyone out, so instead of doing a random draw I decided to award 25 to each and every user who replied within the GeekList stating that they had donated to a Crohn's and Colitis foundation. It's the least I could do for those who have made the effort to take some concrete action against these horrible illnesses! And if I accidentally overlooked anyone, or you donated but forgot to comment within the GeekList stating you had done so, please let me know so that you can receive your award too (don't be shy, but you'd better be quick because I only have enough left for one more prize!).
Total given away: 275 GeekGold!
Woot! Share the love!
And thanks again y'all!!
P.S. If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend checking out the comic that I have linked at the bottom of this intro.
Due to being out of town for 4 days, I have changed the final draw date for prizes to Wednesday or Thursday of this week. So there is still time to enter!!
I was mulling over this GeekLIst for a long time, but eventually decided not to create it. There were a few reasons for this:
1) It has almost nothing to do with board games.
2) I am an intensely private person and feel entirely uncomfortable with the concept of baring my soul for all to see, particularly in a public forum.
3) I very quickly get bored when talking about myself, and in particular when I'm complaining about stuff.
4) I'm not a huge fan of saying things that might invoke people's pity. (Pity doesn't take away my pain, for one thing.)
But then I wrote a response within another GeekList, which in turn stimulated some very kind words from fellow geeks who have Loved Ones who are in similar situations as my own. Obviously, I decided to take the plunge and go for it. So if you want to read about board games, you might wish to move along to the next GeekList.
As far as I know, I have had Crohn's Disease for my entire life, although it wasn't officially diagnosed until I was about 13 years old. Crohn's Disease is a chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD - not to be confused with IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is something entirely different) whose cause is not known and which has no cure. The other major illness that falls under the "IBD" umbrella is Ulcerative Colitis. Ulcerative Colitis causes inflammation of the inner lining of the large intestine, whereas Crohn's Disease causes areas of inflammation that affect all layers of the bowel, and which can show up anywhere in the digestive system. The chief symptoms of both are quite similar - periods of severe pain, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, joint pain, and occasional bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. More information about IBD can be found here: http://www.ccfc.ca/English/info/ibd.html
The physical symptoms of Crohn's can be quite horrendous. For a very small snapshot of how bad it can get, you can read my previously mentioned reply in the GeekList by user "Blott" entitled "Say Something Else (A Geekgold Contest)". It was in response to the question "What's the most physically painful thing you've ever experienced?", which was the 7th entry in the list, and mine was the 22nd response. It can be seen here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/33156
But the physical symptoms are just half the story, because the mental/emotional toll of living with chronic pain and an incurable disease is quite heavy. After the year and a half of unimaginable pain and very nearly dying that I described in the above link, when I finally found myself alive and pain-free, instead of being happy I actually sank into a deep, dark depression and was on the brink of suicide on more than one occasion. This is due to the utter hopelessness of knowing that the chances that I would have to go through all of that again at some point, or at multiple points, in my future were quite high.
Sure enough, a decade later, I now find myself in a position where the severe pain has returned and where my illness is once again not responding as well as it should to the medications. I took nearly a month off work in July and started on a high dose of stronger medication, but the disease continues to persist, albeit in a somewhat diminished capacity. Still, I am terrified. My wife and I for some time have been planning a big trip to Europe in September (family in the UK and Holland, beer in Belgium, games in Germany, mountains in Switzerland, sun and wine in the Italian Riviera, etc.), but we have had to call it off due to these developments with my health.
As a side note (and to include something about games in this list!, I will say that playing board games is a great distraction from my personal suffering, and provides a great opportunity to get together with family and friends and drink and forget my troubles.
In attempting to work through all that emotional trauma from the previous episode, I thought that if only I could write out my experiences of that period of time in detail and put them on paper, I could purge myself of them in a sense. But I didn't even know where to begin describing all that horror. So I kept putting it off and the years went by. Then one day I realized that I could possibly express myself better in more poetic than literal language, and an idea started to flow. What follows in this Geeklist is what I ended up writing.
But before I get to that, I would like to mention that there are organizations around the world who are funding research that is striving to find more effective treatments and, ultimately, hopefully, a cure for IBD. There are a very large number of charities out there that are doing extremely important work, and if you already have one or more that you are donating to on a regular basis, please continue to do so! But if you are looking for another worthy cause, here are some links to a few Crohn's and Colitis foundation donation pages:
And finally (if you've read this far, I really am grateful - I did try to keep this intro as short as possible!), here is the part where you can profit! As a personal thank you to those who donate, I will award 25 each to 4 Crohn's and Colitis donors. Simply state, within a comment at the bottom of this GeekList, which organization you have donated to and why you chose to do so (I don't need to know how much you donated!). The winners will be randomly selected and notified in 2 weeks' time on September 4th or 5th. [Edit (again, and again): Thanks to A LOT of INCREDIBLY generous tippers on this list, I've been able to increase this award to 25 GG each to 4 donors, as well as 15 GG for each of the MicroBadge creators! So don't forget to comment within the GeekList after you have made a donation - based on the fact that there have only been 1 or 2 so far, your current chances of winning are 100%! ]
Additionally, I will award 15 to a user who creates a MicroBadge I approve of that says "IBD awareness - Crohn's Disease" (and will then promptly purchase it), and 15 to a user who creates another that says "IBD awareness - Ulcerative Colitis". (It could be the same person!) You can submit your designs as comments at the end of this GeekList, and when I have chosen the ones I like, you can bring them over to the MicroBadge forum (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/130746) to get them officially approved. I would really like to see the emblem in the top left corner of this screen utilized for the MicroBadges: http://www.ccfc.ca/English/index.html
So now, finally and without further ado, here is the story of the past decade or so of my life.
I went out of town for my latest medical appointment not long after I created this list, and you cannot imagine my shock at coming back to BGG this evening and seeing the incredibly overwhelming response that it has received over the past couple of days! My wife can tell you what a cold-hearted, emotionless bastard I am but I was very nearly moved to tears by this amazing show of support by my fellow BGGers! I'm absolutely floored!! I am utterly speechless!! My mind is boggled!!
I don't know how to even begin thanking you all. Some of you have commented to me that thumbs and GeekGold do not seem adequate. Sure, thumbs and GeekGold may have very little meaning outside this website, but within the context of our little community they are a wonderful expression of love and support, and I am touched very deeply by this massive response. When times get tough for me, I now have one more very meaningful support item I can turn to, to know that I am not alone and that even people I have never met face to face care about me. I will definitely treasure this and come back to it at difficult times. Wow. I almost started crying again. Damn, that won't do - I'd better put on my sunglasses. That's right, play it cool, I had a little something in my eye just now...
But I gotta tell ya, I'm also a little embarrassed. I mean, yes I've seen my share of struggles in my 32 years on this planet, but I don't have Multiple Sclerosis or Cerebral Palsy or Cystic Fibrosis or cancer or one of any number of diseases that are much worse even than Crohn's. It's perhaps a little silly, but I feel as if my problems don't really warrant this huge amount of attention! Of course, that could also be my intensely private nature feeling a little uncomfortable in the spotlight!
To all you who have taken the time to read this list, who have shown your appreciation by thumbing it, who have generously tipped me some of your hard-earned GeekGold, who have taken the time to respond, and, most of all, who have had the courage to share your own stories, I thank you with all my heart. To those who, like me, are struggling and suffering with some very difficult circumstances, be strong and surround yourself with Loved Ones who will be strong for you when you no longer can be. Life is definitely a roller-coaster and some of us are in valleys right now, but I feel it's safe to say that things will start moving up again. And in the meantime, I know that I am blessed with a lot of great things (ie.games!) in my life, and I need to keep the focus on those (ie. play more games!).
Thank you doesn't seem adequate. But it's all I've got. So, thank you.
User Alan Stern has pointed out to me another very interesting take on someone else's description of life with Crohn's Disease. Many of that guy's experiences (including the pre-high school diagnosis, the awkwardness and embarrassment of the disease, the resulting complete absence of a social life and preference to curl up alone with great literature, the horrible childhood tests that included a colonoscopy with no sedation, the feeling that I'm pretty fortunate because other people have it much worse than I do so I really shouldn't complain, etc.) certainly parallel my own. It is in the form of a comic, and it can be seen here:
24 hour comic (everything you never wanted to know about crohns disease)
- [+] Dice rolls