"We all have to go to work tomorrow." That's a common refrain heard during beer league games when one guy gets a little exuberant with the physical play. In other words, slow your roll, pal. Of course one of the great things about the game of hockey is that, should the malefactor fail to curtail his nefarious activities, behavior modification programs can be implemented by the opposition - and the on-ice officials.
Hey, hockey is a contact sport, and even in a no-checking league there is plenty of room for lawful contact between competing players. And that's one of the things I love about it. I don't want to watch hockey without contact. History aside, that's boring.
However, I'm nearly 42. I stopped playing goalie full-time a couple years back (just slowed down too much to be additive), so now I play wing. I'm sort of in the middle of my Monday night team, age-wise. I'm on the lower end of the talent spectrum.
Last night, playing one of our arch enemies, I got completely destroyed. I was skating across my blue line with the puck on a breakout, moved to skate around a guy (I honestly don't remember if it was one of my team mates or not), and out of no where an opposing player did the same thing but coming straight at me. Let's just say I took the worst of our collision. I should take a moment to say that I had no issue with the play. I don't think the other guy expected me to be where I was any more than I expected him to be where he was. No penalty was called on the play, and I wouldn't say one was warranted.
My teammates say I was knocked unconscious. I honestly don't recall that - which probably means I was. I remember getting hit, and I remember being face down on the ice, with my arms out in front of me. I remember seeing a yellow streak on my brand new shield and being pissed about that. I remember being annoyed by how loud my breathing sounded. I remember pain in my head, and in my back between my shoulder blades. It was almost like a systems checklist ran through my head. I remember consciously thinking I should move all my limbs and being happy when they responded, and then feeling stupid for worrying about that. I remember someone asking me if I was okay over and over again. I remember saying yes, eventually. I was not thinking "concussion." I was really just thinking about getting to the bench. If anything I was a little embarrassed to be the center of attention right then and there.
I made it to my feet, and wasn't too wobbly. I got to the bench and sat down. My head was definitely foggy. That's when I started thinking about concussions. My back was still hurting. And my head. No tingling. And I did feel a...disquiet in my stomach. It wasn't exactly nausea. It wasn't exactly pain. It was weird.
Maybe ten minutes later, with about four minutes left in the game, we had taken a couple penalties so our bench was both short and in disarray, lines-wise. We had two guys come off and one guy jump on, and there was a moment of indecision on the bench as no one else thought it was their turn to go. So, I thought I'd give it a try to see how I was doing. It was a stoppage. So I went. Got to the faceoff circle, we lost the draw, and the other team started down the ice toward our goal. I took about four hard strides to catch up to the play - and immediately felt like I was going to puke. So, I just glided to the bench. (One of our guys told me after the game that the ref was not happy that I'd come back out to play again. That he said he was going to tell me to get the fuck off the ice and stay off if I hadn't taken myself off.)
I've had a couple concussions throughout my life. In each case the recovery was pretty quick. I understand the risks, how the effects are cumulative. I saw a doc and things checked out as normal. I've always thought the term "mild concussion" was stupid. But the doc's point was that I'm not manifesting any serious symptoms at this point, but everything I've said points to a concussion. So, basically, we'll see. I don't feel nauseated, or woozy any more.
I'm sore, though. I'm taking the largest Aleve that I can find. I don't know how the pros can take that kind of abuse. Or football players? My God. No wonder the average NFL career is 3 seasons.
I suppose I do worry about the cumulative effects of multiple concussions. I'm not photophobic today, and I'm not getting worse. I know people can seem okay for a while and then the symptoms can come on. So I know I'm not out in the clear yet. But I'm not sweating this one at this point.
There wasn't a point where I was scared last night. More annoyed. It hurt, though. And it still does. I'll get over sore muscles. Sure beats paralysis or CTE.
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