How Dungeons and Dragons Saved My Life

It was a pretty typicaldungeons2014 Sunday evening. A rogue elf, a human ranger, a human barbarian, a half-elf paladin, and me – an elvish monk – battling creatures deep in a vampire’s crypt who was possibly aligned with our mortal enemy. I started off in battle admirably, even punching through the skull of a tentacled water creature and back-flipping onto a ledge several meters up. After that, I was rolling nothing but fours and sixes against creatures I should have taken out without a sweat.

There’s a belief among gamers that your connection to your dice influences your rolls. As I continued to rack up the worst rolls of my gaming history, I realized I could no longer ignore one important thing: my gut was having spasms that was making it difficult to breathe. This had to be why I was rolling so terribly.

Unfortunately, those spasms were happening out of game and not from the Dungeon Master to my character. At first I did what every male is taught from infancy to do: suck it up and wait to see if it goes away. The trouble is, I enjoy breathing. A lot. And it was getting harder to do, so I overcame decades of societal influence and broke up the game by stating, “I’m having trouble breathing. I think I need to go home.”

I’d learn later that our paladin and host, Kolja, at first thought I was playing my character. No one knew the pain I was feeling because I have a ridiculously high pain threshold – even for a third level elfin monk. I don’t like people worrying, so I acted like all was good until I couldn’t anymore.

“Do you want to lie down? Do you need some air?” Kolja asked.

I considered both those things as a sharp pain hit my gut, feeling not unlike the fourteen poison darts that had struck the paladin just moments earlier.

“I need to go to the hospital,” I muttered and headed for my jacket and shoes.

Both Kolja and Sarah, our ranger, followed in close pursuit. After all, our number one rule has been to never break up the party. They asked if I needed a ride, but I thought I could drive myself. Since that conversation is a blur in my memory, I’d say I was in no condition to drive.
Kolja slipped into his hiking boots, whisked me out the door to his car, and we were at the hospital in less time than it had taken Von Blaten, the vampire we’d been hunting, to teleport through the mirror on Pirate Island to his underground lair where my monk was just earlier rolling fours and sixes.

At VGH, over the next 36 hours, I’d discover that I had appendicitis and it needed to come out. (I’d also discover that after fasting for that long soggy hospital toast and a boiled egg tastes as yummy as the best cut of prime rib at a gourmet restaurant. Another post for another time.) My most important lesson, besides that appendicitis sucks and that keeping a smile and good humour makes a bad situation better, was that I have an incredible Scooby Gang that rushed to help me without my needing to ask. Lee, Marcie, Sarah, Rob, and Kolja – thanks for stepping up when I needed it. And to everyone else who texted, emailed or signed the card at work (including all my regular customers) thank you for keeping my spirits up.

Of course from a gamer’s point of view I realize that had I not been playing Dungeons and Dragons that evening I probably would have ignored the pain, taken a Tylenol, and attempted to sleep it off. The infection would have gotten worse, and I may not have played my monk to fourth level.

Yes folks, we now have proof that Dungeons and Dragons saves lives.

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