I went to the doctor because I had been feeling nauseous, had stomach pains, and puked a bit. Alright, maybe more than a bit.

During the last few days, I hadn’t eaten anything other than two steaks because I thought I had some allergic reaction to food, and my body would never betray me and get allergic to steak. However, when I fountained even the most delicious of all meals into my toilet bowl, I knew I had to visit a professional.

My doc said: “Off to the emergency hospitalization with you! Don’t worry, just for monitoring. They’ll give you an antibiotics treatment.”

So I checked in.

The emergency doc had a different evaluation. “Your gall bladder is nearly bursting. We have to operate. Don’t worry; it’s a minimally invasive surgery. Three tiny slits. A routine surgery.”

I didn’t worry. I’m a pro in getting sliced and diced. That would be my sixth surgery, and I had already surrendered some organs before. I did fret a bit about the general anesthesia. The last time, I had lost some brain cells, and those things were useful.

Because you had to be fasting before surgery, I didn’t get any meals in the evening or morning. I didn’t care too much because I was still feeling a bit squeamish.

The operation came and went. They even humored my request that I wanted to keep my gall stones.

Picture of my pretty gall stones, still wet with gall juice:

While I was enjoying my high from the pain killers, I had difficulties breathing. I could only speak one word before I had to take another breath. Basically, I sounded like Stevie, the kid in the wheelchair from Malcolm in the Middle.

The docs said: “Don’t worry. That’s pretty normal after that kind of surgery. The air that we pumped into your abdominal cavity is pressing against your lungs.”

So, I didn’t worry, but breathing got harder and harder. I woke up in the middle of the night and fought for every breath. My back dented the mattress, so my shoulders were bent. Just a centimeter or two more lung capacity would help me out. So I balled my bag and put it between my shoulder blades.

I felt ridiculous. Ridiculous and suffocating − that’s not a good combination. There had to be a more professional way to ease up my breathing, so I called the night nurse.

“Need… more… air!”

While the nurse clipped a thingy on my finger, I tried to explain my shoulder situation. With only one word at a time, I did a fairly lousy job.

“I have to fetch the doctor. Don’t worry. We’ll be back in no time.” The nurse ran away.

I still didn’t worry. I raged! How could it be that a nurse didn’t have a ready solution for breathing problems? Last I checked, breathing was pretty important for humans. Shouldn’t methods to lighten air intake be the first thing taught in nurse school?

When the doc arrived, I had entered the corridor. I call it a corridor because “tunnel” is too clichéd. Sounds echoed through the corridor, my vision’s edges were blurred, and colors muted.

The clip on my finger was an oxygen measurement device. The nurse told the doc my oxygen levels. They started out fairly high − in the nineties. And I would have relaxed if I wouldn’t have heard the panic in the nurse’s voice.

Additionally, the doc jostled me around, and I was nauseous again. The outcoming puke blocked off the incoming air. They combated insight of me.

“89%!” The nurse said, her voice high and tight.

Still a comfortably high value… I didn’t know anything about blood oxygen levels, but as an avid gamer and LitRPG fan, I did know a lot about percentages and falling health bars. From this perspective, 89% was great, just the beginning of the fight. Any player who would waste defensive cooldowns at 89% was a n00b. Maybe some skills with short CDs to mitigate the damage would be appropriate at 89%.

“82%!” Now, the nurse’s voice was definitely shrill.

I started to worry. Panicky healthcare professionals were never a good sign. However, the high number calmed me down. Who was I that I need to worry at 82%? I had a server first and Europe top ten kill/raid under my belt in WoW’s heydays. 82% was nothing for a tank!

The puke and the air still were at an impasse. The puke wouldn’t come out, and the air wouldn’t go inside. Somehow I knew, that if the puke won out, I would die.


I felt fairly calm. I abandoned breathing and just concentrated on fighting down nausea. 79% still sounded okay. Any major boss special-ability happened soonest at 75%. I had time to turn this fight in my favor.


I lost consciousness.

I must have ignited a special ability at 75% because I survived. Does that mean I’m a boss? For sure!

Though, my first thought went in the opposite direction: I felt wimpy that I blacked out at 74%. I mean, that’s not even in the orange zone of a health bar, much less the red.

Well, my litRPG addicted, oxygen-deprived mind confused the blood oxygen content with hitpoints. In hindsight, 0% blood oxygen would mean being dead and rotting for a while.

Now, I had an oxygen tube under my nose. Breathing was still hard, but at least I did breathe.

The nurse discovered my bag when she adjusted my pillow. This time I managed to stutter a good enough explanation that she put it back.

Somehow that made the situation more horrible. A health professional used the same methods for facilitating easier air intake as me: a bunched-up Joan Ninja Hen merchandize tote bag. It hammered home that the poor woman was at the end of her rope.

Saved by Merch…

So, I survived, and I have a new point of view of falling bars. From gaming, I only know the rising fright that came with them. Now I know that they can be pretty comforting as well. At least when the numbers are still high.

The next morning, a biscuit awaited me. Before I could enjoy it, a nurse took it away while admonishing me how much worry I caused for the night shift.

“The doctors said they want to operate on you again. You have to fast.”

With regrets, I watched the food go away.

“I heard you had quite the adventurous night.” The doctor said during the ward round.

Oh dear, she did know only half of it.


The second surgery didn’t go well again. While they removed the hematoma that pushed against my lungs, I lost a lot of blood and woke up in intensive care. Afterward, my health got a bit better every day. Soon I could speak two words in a row. Five days later, I received my first solid meal. Six days later, I ordered takeaway because I was thoroughly fed up.

Now, over three weeks have passed. Yesterday, I stopped the pain medication, and it’s fine. I can walk a mile without problems but can’t carry heavy stuff until the scar tissue is fully healed. I’m recuperating quite well.

One more pic of my pretty stones.