The Mighty Logo

Why Pokemon Go Is a Tool In My Arsenal Against Lupus

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

My 18-year-old son did something sneaky with my phone as he was leaving for college. He put the Pokémon Go app on it. At first, I was none too pleased. I never cared for the TV show or the card game, so why would I want it on my phone?

“To distract you from pain on your walks,” he told me. “If you don’t like it, I’ll take it off next weekend. Give it a try.” I gave him my motherly evil eye that used to make him behave. Instead, he smiled and said, “Trust me. You’ll walk farther.”

Does anybody else hate it as much as I do when your adult children are right and you’re wrong?

Pokémon Go gets me motivated to get out of the house and out of my neighborhood. I can be found in parks, malls, landmarks, grocery stores, restaurants, and even Dodger Stadium where last Sunday I evolved all kinds of Pokémon characters. I did stop playing long enough to see the winning home run in the 10th inning to clinch the National League West title.

It has even gotten my husband and I out on dates with each other. One evening, we decided to meet at a restaurant on the plaza outside the local movie theater. He was a half an hour late. Before Pokémon Go, I would have been highly irritated. (My nice way of saying I would have been very angry.) Instead, I distracted myself with my game. I added an incense to attract characters to my location. Ten minutes later, the local high school football team arrived for a private party. They pulled out their phones as they entered the restaurant. The three nearby PokeStops were being actively utilized. Pokémon characters were showing up faster than I could catch them. I could hear the football players laughing and talking around the corner with no idea I was playing along. It was exhilarating without taxing my body.

Then came the PokeGym battles. There was one gym on the plaza. If you have a strong enough character, you can battle another for supremacy of that gym. I do not have a strong enough Pokémon, but I watched that gym repeatedly change hands until my husband arrived. Then, I was a nice wife and (tried to) put my phone away.

There are rules to playing Pokémon Go. Don’t play and drive, don’t walk into people or block them in grocery store aisles, don’t forget your loved ones exist, and don’t overdo it putting yourself in pain later.

Watching the Battles of Pokémon Gym Supremacy got me thinking about my battles against lupus. When I was first diagnosed, I was very sick. I had to find and continue to hunt for useful tools like medications, doctors, and other resources to fill up my weapons arsenal. I had to evolve myself and that arsenal over time to make myself stronger. I still do. I have to pick and choose my battles carefully. Can I win that battle or should I walk away from it to fight it another day?

Lupus is doing the same thing. It is evolving. It is trying to make itself stronger against me. We meet in the medical arena at regular intervals. For a time, it was winning. Lately, the tide has turned in my favor. If I’m going to win this war, I’ve got to stay on top of my game.

Who would’ve thought Pokémon Go would become a helpful tool in my arsenal against lupus? My son did. (Shaking my head at him as I am considering going to the mall to play.)

Originally published: September 30, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home