I know that in the past I’ve mentioned how a video game almost killed me as a child. No, it wasn’t thrown at my head, nor was I physically beat by somebody wielding a NES controller. It’s actually a little more complicated than that, so let me take you back in time to when I was a little girl…
It was the late 80’s. At the age of 5 I was given a NES as a gift from my grandmother. Being the savvy shopper that she is, my NES was purchased off of the Home Shopping Network, and because of that, it came with a game! That game was Battle of Olympus, a side-scrolling Zelda-esque “RPG” that took you through ancient Greece as Orpheus. Published by Broederbund (that’s a name you don’t see dropped often these days), Battle of Olympus was a classic.
Now, like I said, you assume the role of Orpheus. For those of you who don’t know a thing about Greek Mythology, let me break it down. Orpheus was a man who played the lyre like no one else. He had a lovely woman in his life by the name of Eurydice. On the day of their wedding, Eurydice was bitten by a snake and sadly died. Stricken with grief, Orpheus traveled down into the underworld to plead his case. Basically, he went on a suicide mission. There was no way that Hades would give up Eurydice, but along the way Orpheus realize that in order to get to Hades, he must go through his Queen, Persephone. Playing his music, Orpheus touched them both and he was given back Eurydice on one condition: he must not look back to check on her until they reached the surface. Of course, like every Greek story, the ending goes horribly wrong, because in his excited state, Orpheus makes the mistake that costs him Eurydice forever. So there you have it.
I was so addicted to playing this game, so determined to beat it, and basically became obsessed. Due to the immense stress I was putting myself under, and all of the anxiety I was experiencing, one night I woke up quaking. Every inch of my body was just shaking like I was freezing to death, my heart was beating like crazy, and I couldn’t stop my jaw from chattering. I was rushed to the hospital and the doctors told me I just had a bout of ventricular tachycardia. Based on my electrocardiogram (ECG) I was told I had to wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours, and that I couldn’t play my NES for a couple of weeks. Thanks to the Holter monitor, I was almost sent to the Principal’s office during recess too because one of the ladies at the school thought I had a Walk-Man on me. Boy was it embarrassing to explain in front of all the kids.
Fortunately, I haven’t had any other bouts of VT, but in 2003 I was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions (PVC’s). Obviously I still play video games, sometimes for 16 hours straight, and I’m still alive. Maybe one day I won’t get so lucky, but for now, I live to tell the tale of how I stared death in the face just so I could defeat the Hydra!