themighty logo

What a Game of Operation Revealed About My Medical Journey


Ages 6 and up and 15 minutes to play. On a muggy morning at a summer camp laid a board game: Operation. If I’m being honest, I never enjoyed the game as a kid, but another girl, Jess’s enthusiasm for it swayed me and we took a seat at a cleared table and opened the box.

We didn’t know each other.

The competitiveness took over and soon we had been playing for hours.

Until this point, I would have not wanted to play a game that reminded me of the woes of my health. I was having trouble walking into doctor’s offices because hearing that you have a significantly shortened life span is not what a 19-year-old wants to hear.

The bell in the head and the bird in the ear.

Through laughing and frustration, I learned that Operation is just like my medical journey. Sometimes there is an urgency to fix things in time, sometimes there is not, and sometimes there is nothing you can do. Sometimes the buzzer will sound when you are in trouble and sometimes it doesn’t, even when you need help. Sometimes you need to let people into that struggle and sometimes you need to power through on your own. Sometimes all someone can do is be present through the struggles and the triumphs.

Looking past our highly competitive spirit, we both wanted each other to succeed. The opposition’s improvement only helped better ourselves. There was a camaraderie present in that moment.

It was a simple game on a simple day, but the lasting effect of a $20 board game is one that will stay with me. I remembered what it means to fight. I remembered why it is important to. Most importantly, I learned I am never alone at the operating table.

Follow this journey on Miss Bailey Mae.