If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

Yohan’s Surgery #10: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

July 18, 2016


Due in part to the effects of his CMT, Yohan has never been particularly athletic. When he was young, he enjoyed swimming lessons, played tennis and racquetball, kayaked and camped with his dad. He even learned to ride a horse. As he got older, fatigue, sprained ankles and nerve pain became limiting factors to his budding sports career.

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(Remember this oldie, but goodie? Yohan and his horse, Athos.)

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So, Gilles and I have never spent Saturdays cheering him on at soccer or basketball games, but we did get involved with his gang of friends who were fanatically collecting Pokémon cards, watching the series on TV and playing the Pokémon game. I even made an effort to learn the characters, their names, and abilities. I helped him file his “valuable” cards, putting them all into binders, in alphabetical order, of course. We bonded over our love of these mostly cute and adorable characters- especially Pikachu, that short, chubby yellow-furred rodent with pointed, black tipped ears. What’s not to love?

A couple of years later, once I finally attained the status of Pokémon Master Trainer (I liken this to a black belt in karate)*, the trading card game Magic the Gathering made a comeback and Pokémon all but faded into a distant, but fond memory. If we wanted a relationship with our son, Gilles and I just had to follow the craze.

Out with the old and in with the new: we all purchased Magic cards, and learned how to play and even held tournaments at our house. I was never particularly good at Magic, but I did own a couple super-duper extra powerful cards that won me my fair share of matches.

I retired from Magic the day that I learned that Gilles had spent an entire summer buying the best of the best Magic cards on eBay, constructing an unbeatable, omnipotent legacy deck, which, in retrospect, was probably illegal. After spending a month in Vermont, we returned home to an  unusually eager Gilles who destroyed us game after game after game. “That’s it. I quit.” I raged while stomping out of the room. “I am calling the Magic police. You are busted!”

Over the years, I’ve always tried to find ways to join Yohan in his interests and hobbies, making communication and interaction as easy and as real as possible. To remain connected and to keep ideas flowing, we’ve read some of the same books, worked on biofeedback for pain control, and played mutually enjoyable board games (Cribbage is tons of fun).

During his recovery from this foot surgery, we’ve spent a lot of quality time together, playing games, learning sign language (kind of difficult for someone with CMT), reading books (Full Catastrophe Living) and watching comedies that make us laugh senselessly.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

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So when I heard about the new and somewhat controversial Pokémon Go game and pondered a possible reunion with the little guy, Pikachu, I downloaded the app and started playing. Guess who is playing with me? Yohan!  In fact, he’s taught his mom how to play the game and even teamed up with me for about 5 minutes, to help me catch Pokémon.

Pokémon Go also provided the perfect distraction, diminishing anxiety and worry when faced with removing the 3-inch pin in his toe this past Friday. Before, during and after the procedure, we caught a wide assortment of Pokémon (still searching for Pikachu!).  The game’s release date could not have been timelier!

We have not fallen off any cliffs yet, or walked into oncoming traffic, but whenever we go out as a family, I ask Gilles to drive, so Yohan and I can join in on the fun and competition, together. My motto: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. As for Gilles’s opinion of Pokémon Go, he said, “Been there, done that. Next!”

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(Due to Gilles’s very bad attitude, Machop got away.)


* Gilles wanted me to tell you that I never really attained the imaginary level of Pokémon Master Trainer. That dream was sadly squashed in its infancy.

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