Making the “Switch” to joy during a hospital visit

One of the many difficult aspects of starting at Chai Lifeline Midwest during the pandemic was restrictions during visits. For months, I’ve been meeting parents in the lobby. Once I was allowed to go up to the food court to spend some time with a parent. 

That can be a nice break, but I thought to myself that nothing could compare to being able to visit a family in the room and spend quality time with them. That thought was validated when I was finally able to get permission and visit our families in their rooms again! 

Before I visit a family (or really before any endeavor), I pray that G-d will give me the right words and abilities to be there in a revealed good, supportive and kind way.

I walked into the room and Mom and son were hanging out. I handed Mom a delicious-smelling and fresh lunch which is always so greatly appreciated. Then I noticed that her son was playing video games on the Nintendo Switch. 

My prayers were answered.

Leveling up in life 

In the past,  video games were a pretty serious hobby of mine. I even worked at a video game store in high school and early college. Because of that, I am impressively good at games. I don’t get many opportunities to use this “talent” in a constructive way, but here I knew something cosmic was at play. 

I asked if he would like a partner in his game and he perked up. We played and shortly after starting he said, “Wow, you’re really good.” I shared some tips and tricks with him so he could impress his brothers. 

While I was there, the nurse came to check on his pain level. 

He said, “While I’m playing I don’t feel any pain.” This seemed to surprise the nurse which led me to believe this has not been the standard response. 


As we played, I sent Mom to go grab a coffee and have some much-needed alone time outside of the confines of the small room (though they were blessed with an amazing view of Lake Michigan on a beautiful sunny day.)

I thought to myself, “I can’t believe this is my job! Getting to sit and play video games.” The only difference between this and my past life as a video game player is that here I was bringing light and joy to a little boy who really needed it. We also happened to have a blast playing. 

If I didn’t have another obligation I would have stayed there all day. We said goodbye and I challenged him to get to a certain level by my next visit. When I got back to the office, I saw a text from Mom with a picture captioned: “I don’t think you know how far this went – Thank you!”

Walking away, I felt so incredibly grateful that I was able to comfort a family in such a fun yet meaningful way. And that I was finally able to put my video game talent to good use!  

It really is true that when you set out to give, you receive much more in return. I know that my visit cheered him up, but it brought me immeasurable joy,  too. While illness is certainly not fun and games, sometimes games can serve as the best medicine. 

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