How Pokemon and /r/pokemon subreddit helped save a life

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We found an incredible story on /r/pokemon, the main Pokemon subreddit. The story is really strong and emotional, bordering with dark at moments, but we encourage our readers to take their time and read it through.

Nope, we’re not crying, it’s just the onion. Try not to cry a lot.

This year I returned to Pokemon, and it helped save my life.

“Building up to the release of Sun and Moon, I’ve been meaning to write this as a thank you to this sub, and to Pokemon in general though I doubt they’ll read it, for quite literally saving my life. It’s a bit of a long read, but I’ll try and keep it as short as possible.

For over two years, I was battling an undiagnosable illness that was slowly killing me, my weight went down to 4.7 stone (65 pounds) and I couldn’t walk more than 15 feet without passing out. I couldn’t speak without getting out of breath, and I could barely eat anything. Then earlier this year I had a seizure and almost died in the middle of a queue in Camden Market, London. My blood pressure and all other signs was so low they couldn’t even get a reading, if it wasn’t for me barely retaining consciousness they would have assumed the worst. It turns out the seizure was caused as a reaction to a certain painkiller, and through this we were able to finally diagnose what was wrong with me.

After 25 years I had an answer, but it only made things worse. Treatment was pretty experimental, the drug I’m currently receiving was only approved last December, I’m one of the first on it, and to receive it I have to spend 8 hours in a chair with multiple needles in me, it’s a little like chemotherapy only without certain side effects.

This is where Pokemon comes in, when I was being told about everything I was about to go through, I panicked, I have a tremendous rivalry with needles, I’m not afraid of them and never avoid them, but I WILL pass out afterwards. It’s weird. Not during, or at the sight of the needle, just long after the blood test is done, sometimes I even make it to the car, and then pass out. Now I’m somehow supposed to sit, with multiple needs in my arms for 8 hours? I freaked. I freaked out hard, I started having a panic attack being driven home from the hospital and jumped out the car as it was slowing down at a stop light because I needed air. I had no idea how I was going to get through any of this. I started thinking of any way I could get through this, I’d need something big to distract me, a movie wouldn’t work, only 2 hours at most and I don’t think it’d keep my full attention for that long.

Then I remembered Pokemon, and how many hours I put into those games as a kid. Hundreds of hours I clocked in Red, Blue, Yellow, Silver, Gold and Crystal. A not so great childhood forced me to grow up pretty quickly and that was the last I ever played of the series. But I knew that was the answer. I had 6 weeks to get money for a DS and a game, pretty hard considering I’d missed so much work from being more zombie than man at that point. But I had no family to turn to for a favour, and I’d never ask a friend for that, so I just buckled down and tried to figure out what I would do. I got a little bit towards my goal before trying to make the decision, and I turned to r/Pokemon to help me, X or Y?

You guys helped with various games including Ruby and Sapphire remakes, and the differences between 3DS and the XL, and a buttload of well wishes and nice messages. Then a guardian Redditor messaged me, I won’t mention her here, but it made me cry.

She sent me an Amazon gift card that enabled me to buy Pokemon Y and a secondhand copy of SoulSilver. I dumped a load of DVDs and video games into a second-hand store, and bought myself a 3DS. I had everything I needed with 14 and a half hours to spare before my first infusion appointment.

So I sat in my chair, in a room meant for 8 treatments, but since I was the first person in my county, let alone hospital, to be going through this treatment, I was alone, visitors weren’t allowed apart from a nurse who would periodically come to check my vitals.

Just as the needles were about to go in the first time, using my free hand, I turned on Soul Silver, and was greeted with this wave of nostalgia that completely made me forget about the literal Needle Arm attack my right arm was currently enduring. The first time in two years of tests I didn’t pass out. Those first eight hours went incredibly quickly as I went through Johto with my Totodile.

247 hours in SoulSilver and 130 hours in Pokemon Y later. And I’m alive. At one point it looked like I wouldn’t even make it to my 25th birthday a few months back in August. Now, I’ve doubled my weight, not only can I move, but I can run, I ran miles playing Pokemon Go, and a game I thought would just be for hospital visits has travelled with me everywhere and kept me sane at moments when I was really losing it. If it wasn’t for Pokemon, I don’t know if I would have been able to get through these treatments without having a seizure that could have killed me (needle could have rippled veins out, etc.)

Ivysaur Grimer Bug

I’m slowly getting back to work, and should have enough to join everyone on release day for the new generation. This isn’t the end of my whole ordeal, but it’s definitely a new chapter where things don’t like so bleak anymore.

So thank you Pokemon, r/Pokemon and my guardian Redditor, for quite literally helping save my life.”

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Zeroghan started the Hub in July 2016 and hasn't had much sleep since. A lover of all things Pokémon, web development, and writing.

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