“Don’t forget your inhaler!”
- My mother (probably 17 times a day since I was born)
I have had a long and beautiful relationship with video games. Growing up with a chronic illness prompted my love for video games, as they were one of the few things that I could do even when I was sick. Video games helped train my mind to work even when I was ill. They taught me problem solving, they taught me story telling and they even provided me with a truly fictional world in which the Cleveland Browns could win the Super Bowl.
Our culture likes to call our favorite forms of entertainment an “escape,” and I think that is absolutely incorrect. With an Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease constantly lurking and waiting to strike in my life, I never felt as though spending a few hours as an Italian plumber looking to save the princess, or as the coach of the Cleveland baseball club looking to rewrite history, or as an aerodynamic hedgehog collecting rings provided an escape from the illness. Instead, I felt as though these games and the narratives shaped by them actually forced me to face my disease head on.
We all struggle, we all have to fight, we all understand pain. Video games, like all great art forms, gave me the perfect metaphor from which I could understand that beating a level, figuring out a puzzle, winning a virtual title was exactly what I was attempting to do on a daily basis with the disease. Each day the disease threatened to throw a wrench into my plans, something completely out of the blue. Yet the most difficult but rewarding aspects of life come from figuring out that the struggle is the journey. That perceived weakness is actually strength and that the aspects of life that make you feel different and weird are actually the things that set you apart from everyone else.
This is where inhalers enter the story. I do not remember life prior to inhalers. They have been with me for as long as the disease has and I failed to recognize until later in life that it is not completely normal to struggle to remember where my favorite pair of jeans were but yet know exactly where all of my inhalers were.
I could go on to list all of the inhalers I have used through various times in my life but you can see the design and recognize the shapes and colors yourself. The point of this design is not for anyone to feel sympathy for me or for me to engage in a bizarre humble-brag of the amount of inhalers that have been in my life. The point of this design is to show that sometimes this disease has become absolutely overwhelming.
There are times where the medications and treatments for this disease seem to be speeding towards me, like a game of Tetris, and I must try to figure out how to balance a specific medication -- But before I know it I look up and here comes another. For someone reading this that does not have the disease, I am sure you can substitute the inhalers in this design for something else that has overwhelmed you in your life. Grief, loss, depression, worry. I feel you. That is the heart and the point of this design. The struggle of life is not something from which any of us should run, but rather is something we must embrace. Take your inhalers with you, beat that level of Tetris, and realize that if an Italian plumber can get a princess to fall in love with him, then ultimately even the Cleveland Browns can overcome the odds and win the Super Bowl….well…maybe.
10% of the profits from this design will be donated to APFED (American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders)
10% of the profits from this design will be donated to AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America)