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April 19, 2018

They Want To Play… Trust Me

Injuries suck… but they happen.  No athlete wants to be injured and those of us who are prone to injury know that better than anyone.

I happen to be one of those injury prone athletes.  I may not be a professional athlete but I did play Jr. A hockey in front of dozens of scouts, I was  invited to prospect camps, and I was even offered a few scholarships.

Ever since I was young, I was big into sports.  Baseball and hockey were my faves.  Eventually, I realized I was quite good at hockey… really good, actually.  So I stopped my other sports and played hockey year round.

I broke the growth plate in my ankle when I was 12. I had my first concussion at 14, another at 15, and yet another at 17.  Now, back then concussions weren’t taken as seriously as they are today.  I suffered from anxiety, headaches, light sensitivity, sleep disturbances, and had trouble concentrating.  I just assumed it was all caused by the stress of balancing school and being on the ice 3-4 times per week.

I battled through these injuries and symptoms, never wanting to miss a game.  When I was 19 I made the Jr. A team in Chatham.  I played against the likes of Meghan Agosta (current Team Canada forward), and several other players who went on to receive full scholarships and play in the NCAA.

When I started that season I was playing with a cast, having broken my thumb playing baseball (yes, I went back to baseball instead of hockey in the summer).  I had that cast for five weeks.  Three weeks after having the cast removed I broke my wrist on the same side while making a hit in a game in Toronto.  Another cast, another five weeks.

Fast forward a few years.  I’m now a mother, my daughter is eight months old when I was playing hockey at the Provincials in Toronto.  We’re playing for bronze and the game goes to OT.  I saw an opening for a potential breakaway.  The other team was making a line change… a bad one.  I was skating full speed to try and tip the puck past the last defender who was caught off balance.  I got to the puck first and the defenceman knew she was beat so in a last ditch effort she lunged forward and plowed her fists and stick into my face, driving my head and neck backward.  My head hit the ice with a sickening thud.  I was knocked out.  I woke up but couldn’t open my eyes because the lights hurt them.  I was in more pain than I could fathom.  The trainer wanted to call an ambulance, but I refused.  All I could think of was getting up and getting to my daughter.  The arena doctor met me in the dressing room and told me I most definitely have yet another concussion.  I didn’t care, I just wanted to get dressed and go home.I refused help and drove all the way home to Sarnia in intense pain.  There was definitely something wrong.  I called my husband to tell him I’d need to go to the hospital when I got home.  After tests, it was confirmed.  I had a herniated a disc between my C3-C4 vertebrae.  I had to miss several weeks of work.  I was in intense pain but refused pain medications as I didn’t like the side effects.  I dealt with this for four years.  Physiotherapy, traction, exercises, massages, it never seemed to end.  At one point the doctors thought I might need spinal fusion.  Thankfully that didn’t come to be.

Fast forward seven years later.  I was still dealing with the side effects of having a herniated disc.  I couldn’t look up for more than a few seconds, I wasn’t able to turn my head to the right all the way BUT that never stopped me from playing sports.  By now, I was more into baseball than hockey as I can no longer physically take the hits I used to.

Last year, I was playing baseball in a co-ed recreational league.  I was running from first to second.  The shortstop threw an errant ball trying to get me out at second and it drilled me in the knee while I was extending to reach the bag.  My knee buckled and I went down.  I know something was wrong but I got up and played three more games that day (it was a tournament)!  After ball season I went back to hockey, playing with a sore knee.  Months later I found out I had a torn meniscus.

Surgery repaired it.

I got back on the ice two weeks later.  Several weeks went by and my knee started bugging me again.  I quit hockey for the rest of the season as I didn’t want to risk anything (older, wiser, right?).

Two weeks ago, I was preparing for the upcoming ball season.  I was working on my throwing motion and on the follow through, * SNAP*, I blew out my knee.  I ended up crawling to the couch and called my mom to take me to the hospital.  I have torn my MCL and have a possible torn meniscus… again.  My surgeon tells me it will be a minimum of 12 weeks to heal IF I don’t need surgery.

This is where I am now.  Knee brace, crutches, and depression.  Depressed because all I want to do is throw a baseball or go to the gym or even just go for a WALK.  I can’t play with my daughter in the yard or walk my dog.  It sucks.

If it sucks for me, can you imagine what a professional athlete must feel?  Take a minute and think about it.

It makes me sick when I see people ragging on athletes because of injuries.  Injury prone athletes (hello, Tulo) take the worst of the ire.  It’s not fair.  It’s not fair for them to not only deal with their injuries but then they also have to deal with the hate and vitriol spewed at them by so called fans on a regular basis.

They are professional athletes.  This is their career, this is their livelihood.  They want to play… trust me.  Not only that, take a second and think about what all these injuries have done to their bodies by the time their careers are complete.  They may have lasting effects that you’ll never hear about.  They’re human, and I guarantee, they’d rather not go through this.Injuries happen in sports.  It’s inevitable.  Some are luckier than others.  Let’s show some compassion for the others.

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