Kevin’s Story

Here’s my story with boardgames…

A few years ago, I had a sudden attack of vestibular neuritis, which is basically a viral attack on your vestibular system.  Now up to that point I had no idea what the vestibular system was.  The vestibular system regulates your balance and processes visual and auditory senses so when there’s an issue it’s debilitating. The impact of this left me with a massive vertigo attack and I was unable to walk and ended up bedridden for 2 weeks.  An MRI and some specialists later they said it would pass, but the symptoms weren’t resolving.  On week 3 I was finally able to walk down my stairs and make it into my basement where I have my game room. I tried to pick up a favorite of mine, but it was too much, and I was feeling frustrated.  I knew I needed something that was easy enough to play without a lot of visual stimulation as that was kicking off my not quite right (NQR) feelings. I settled on a game called Lembitu.

A Cooperative game that can be played solo with simple action selection with a plain map is what I needed to engage my brain, but even this proved to be tiring.  A game later I was ready to rest again.  I did this for several days before I felt I had some more energy. It didn’t matter if I won or lost, it mattered that I was doing something and pushing myself little by little.

Week 4 I was finally able to step outside and walk in my yard at a very slow pace. I decided it was time to work on an organizer to force my focus, and so I downloaded the plans for Anachrony – a game that I really like but needed an organizer.  I got my foam board out and measured and cut pieces, doing this slowly and taking my time over the next 2 weeks.  I could feel my focus getting stronger and those NQR feelings fading a bit more into the background. I completed that insert and felt a source of accomplishment.

I kept playing solo games and day after day I was getting my getting my focus back, even if those NQR feelings were still there.   After more checkups I finally realized I was dealing with PPPD which is an ongoing perception disorder usually created by some incident (like my vestibular neuritis). Loud noises or going into a busy store would set off my balance issues and was continuing to hinder me from being myself.  In my quiet space I was taking board games and allowing the visual stimulation to help heal this, to allow for patterns to continue to heal me.  The hobby became my support group with the 1 Players Guild on BGG helping me along the way.  The board game community has been supportive and feels like an extended family – all because we share a common hobby.

I owe a lot to board games – from meeting new friends and fun memories of playing with others, to refining my strategic and tactical thinking abilities. I can add one more to my list can say it’s helped to heal me as well.

– Kevin

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