I’d like to preface this by acknowledging that as of late I’ve been a bit more confrontational than usual, and it has been unwarranted. For those of you whom have been on the recieving end of my bad attitude, I apologize sincerely. This is not meant as a justification of any sort, and is mostly unrelated. I just wanted to get that out there. I am sorry if I’ve gone hard on you (you’ll know who you are).
I am relatively new to this game and community. I have only been following along since the Aganos reveal, spectated during S2, and started playing w the launch of S3 for PC (I joined the forums around this time, to jumpstart my knowledge base). That’s not terribly important, but worth mentioning mostly because of the timing.
In February of this year, I woke up one morning to my left foot feeling “asleep”. This wouldn’t be remarkable, had my left foot ever “woke up”. I went to various ER’s, and tried to see several doctors, to no avail due to the quality of my health insurance - no local healthcare practitioners accepted it, many had never even heard of it. The emergency care centers I went to told me it was just tendonitis, advised me to ice and elevate it, and sent me on my way.
A co-worker recommended me to his podiatrist, whom I saw for a while (before claims being retroactively denied by my insurance). The podiatrist thought it was perhaps a neuroma, or a swollen nerve, and we treated it as such. Gradually, the sleepy numbness developed into more and more complex pain. I began to develop a limp which worsened consistently as time went on. Throughout, I continued to work full-time as a mechanic, sort of losing productivity day by day. Each endeavor got more difficult, took more time - I felt like I was violating the trust of my clientele I had worked so hard over the last few years to build.
By May the shop owner had begun to ask me if I needed time off, and my wife had begun to plead with me to take time off. Bullheaded oaf I am, I politely refused them both, unwilling to cease being the core provider for my family, no matter how temporary. If I couldn’t get medical assistance, if I couldn’t get answers, I couldn’t let myself stop working. So I kept limping around and under vehicles on cold concrete 10 hours a day, 5 (sometimes 6) days a week. The complex pain grew more intense, the limp got worse, my pace became incredibly sluggish, and I trucked on in spite of myself throughout the summer.
Flash forward to August - the mysterious nerve pain and limp had become so bad it would take me a full minute or more to walk mere meters from one end of the shop to the other. I couldn’t make it or down stairs without scooting on my bottom. My left foot was perpetually beet red and cold to the touch, as if I had been barefoot in snow. My boss and wife mutually decided that for my health I couldn’t continue to work in such condition, and had to take the time off, if for nothing else to have more time to try and find some medical practitioner in the area to look at me and solve the problem. So I took a medical leave, and spent much of my newfound time doing just that, ultimately to no avail. I thought to cancel my insurance and sign up for different insurance, but the interim time just seemed wasteful, and so I didn’t - in retrospect, perhaps I should have done that much sooner.
Again, fast forward to the morning before Thanksgiving. More time than planned had passed w/o working, my condition slowly but steadily worsening as it has all year. At this point I couldn’t support my admittedly slight weight (140lbs) on my left leg at all anymore - my primary method of locomotion had gone from limping to “strategic careening”. I awoke that morning to find both feet incredibly swollen from about the ankle. This was new and alarming, as up until now swelling had not presented itself as a symptom, nor was there any trauma which would have explained the swelling. My feet were just super swollen, for no discernible reason. Stubbornly (read: stupidly) not wanting to spoil the holiday for my family, I crammed my feet into socks, put on long pants, and hid the swelling until after Thanksgiving passed.
That Friday I 'fessed up to my wife, and she rushed me to the ER again. After nine hours tucked in a room on an IV drip and a few varied tests, I was transferred via ambulance to another hospital where I was told they would be better equipped to make a diagnosis. Not long after arriving at the second hospital, I was told that I had extensive arterial occlusion (pretty much clotting) in my femoral and others, but the occlusion was so great that they didn’t think they were equipped to help, and so again I was transferred via ambulance to a third hospital, where I was told resided some of the finest vascular surgeons in the state of Michigan. This was to be my first experience with surgery.
That very night I underwent a thrombectomy, wherein they cut into me and cleared out a large amount of the occlusion - I was told my femoral was almost completely blocked off from my abdomen just under my ribs to my left knee. The doctors likened me to a case from the television series “House” because they found me “medically interesting” - I guess this would be normal if I were in my late eighties, but I had just turned 26 in October. After a week of recovery from the thrombectomy, they attempted a femoral bypass, wherein they essentially take veins out of my right leg, and rig them to run blood around the still occluded part of my femoral, to circumvent that whole section and restore blood flow to my lower left leg. Unfortunately, upon harvesting the veins from my right leg, they realized that they too showed signs of clotting and would not suffice. The head surgeon didn’t feel comfortable improvising with plastic tubing on the spot, and so they just stapled me back together before waking me from the anasthesia, the bypass a failure.
Now they tell me I have two options once I recover from these surgeries: we can go through with another bypass, this time with plastic, but due to the durability of the materials I will have to return to have the bypass replaced every 2-3 years for the rest of my life OR we can go ahead with amputation while they can still save the knee. They tell me I’m young and fit enough that recovery should only take a little over month or so, and that modern prosthetics are just incredible. So that’s the route I’ll be taking - losing a bit of a limb to gain the rest of my life back.
Now, I know, you’re thinking “gee, that’s a bummer, why did you tell us that and why did I read all of that? this guy must be looking for pity” - and I must assure you that is not the case.
Throughout this whole ordeal, it’s been KI (the game, and the forums) that have helped me occupy my mind in times when it felt like all I had was pain to focus on. You gave me complex problems to solve and become engaged with in something I am passionate about. You showed me how truly great a fighting game can be when developed by longtime passionate competitors of the genre. You have been my surrogate social life when my friends quit coming 'round, when I could no longer get out and about. This game, these forums have become a huge source of support for me, and I am thankful and appreciative of all you for it. I know few of you would consider me a friend, but I consider many of you friends, and I am thankful to have you all in my life.
Sometimes I get a little overly-aggressive, a bit too confrontational, but this is because I maybe value this game and community a bit too much, and when I see something I percieve as a threat (especially flippant misinformation) I get this guard-dog-esque sense of protectivity. I understand that’s not a great position to take, and it drives some away from me rather than drawing them in. I’ll work on that - I should be working to show you all that I appreciate you for all that you’ve done for me, as little as it may seem.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, for being involved and passionate, for helping me refrain from pitying myself at my lowest, and for always challenging me to improve, in one way or another. I’ve got a long road ahead of me yet, and I can only hope you’re here in the same ways you have been all this time.
Please don’t take pity on me. That’s not what this is about.
Just know that I appreciate each and every one of you.
(not sure if I should tag specific individuals who have incredibly influential or not, so I’ll refrain)