Tag Archives: Krazy Kevin

Not as Good a Long Day

footTV

Started out a standard Sunday: Up at 10 for Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Radiolab, leftover pizza and coffee. Settled in with some Fandemonium and laundry.

2 p.m. left for the rink for our 3:15 game.

3:45 contemplated vomiting in pain.

Game had started well enough; got an assist. But not long after that, I was rushing to the back boards to get a puck that had been dumped in. Just before I got there, I turned in anticipation of (hopefully) snatching the puck clean and pulling it behind the net.

Instead, I lost an edge and in a blink went feet-first into the boards.

Feet-first always looks bad—it’s not an unusual source of hockey injuries—but I’ve done it a hundred times without incident, usually because I have time to position myself and/or bend my knees to absorb the impact. But this happened so fast. I saw a flash of light and for a brief moment thought, “Oh, this is one of those things that just looks bad.”

But within moments, the pain crept in, leaving me scooting forward on my hands and knees, and then knees and elbows, head on the ice.

Two guys—one from each team—helped me to the bench, one skate gliding, the other hanging.

There on the little recessed goalie bench, in a shaky daze of adrenaline, I took off my helmet. And there was a roach in it.

Apparently in times of sweaty, adrenalized semi-consciousness, bugs haunt me. It’s like they’re my incapacitated spirit animals or something.

Seriously—and this is the only time I will ever say this—but I couldn’t give a damn about the roach. The pain was preoccupying. Then after a few minutes I started pouring sweat and feeling nauseous. I wasn’t ever aware of an imminent fainting (although I’m not sure you ever see that coming without following through), but I figured I might have to throw up on someone’s backup stick, because I couldn’t fathom moving beyond leaning forward, and even throwing up on my pants didn’t seem to be something I should care about at the moment.

It was halfway through the first; a full period and a half went by before I could pay attention to the game. I’d left the team with eight skaters, and even as they scurried around me exhausted, I couldn’t even contemplate what was going on on the ice. I wanted to, but nothing existed beyond my lower left leg.

But that was the worst of it. After the game, with lots of hopping and scooting and help from my friends, me and my stuff got sorted out and stuffed in my car. Mrs. Harrible accompanied me to the ER, where Ma and Krazy Kevin eventually joined us. The docs gave me drugs and a splint and crutches and a diagnosis: broken fibula.

splinting

The PA prepares my splint.

So that’s that. After post-hospital dinner and a trip to CVS (yay pharmacy drive-through), I didn’t get home until 10. It took me five minutes to make it from car to door—my gear stayed put—and simply walking from here to there is now an awkward, painful spasm of hops, stumbles and crutches akimbo that leaves me panting and sweaty. My right leg is already exhausted. Every little task is some combination of baffling and grueling: feeding the cat; getting my water glass from the kitchen to the couch. I haven’t yet figured out an approach to bathing that would be sufficient for hockey stink.

ma kevin

Krazy Kevin keeps Ma entertained over dinner.

Still. Intense physical pain has a way of singeing off neuroses; hydrocodone amplifies that effect. So thanks to those two, I’ve mostly been basking in the loveliness of friends and acquaintances alike—feeling sincerely appreciative of the attention, instead of the guilt and embarrassment I’d expect to feel:

  • A total stranger from the other team helping get me to the bench.
  • Teammates I’ve only known through a handful of games gathering my gloves and helmet and skate and stick and socks from the bench, asking after me in the locker room, fetching an office chair to roll me to the lobby, even spending quality time with my stank feet to strap ice onto my leg with an Ace bandage.
  • Steadfast friends Krazy K and Mr. Harrible, one on each side, escorting me across the ice, taking great care navigating doors and corners.
  • Mrs. Harrible cheerfully taking me to the hospital in my own car, running inside to grab a wheelchair and dropping me off before parking the car, then joining me in the exam room.
  • Ma coming just to be there.
  • Krazy Kevin arriving after playing his second game of the afternoon, popping in to say hi, then staying another half hour alone in the waiting room because I was only allowed two visitors at a time.
  • Ma picking up the dinner tab to show her gratefulness, too, to these friends.

I’d gladly give my left leg for experiences like that.

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Concussed

“How’s your head. Did you go to the docter?” An inquiry tonight from Krazy Kevin. Of course. As colorful on IM as he is in real life. (Obviously I like clean grammar, but I also like writing that captures energy and individual personality, and in this sense, Kevin is an exceptional writer.)

“Nah, if anything is shaky tomorrow, I’ll go, but I think it’s getting better.”

“When you came of the ice you gave me that look! I saw you on your ass but I didnt c what happened!”

“Haha what look? Fucking tall guy cut into the slot as I was crashing to get his rebound. Tried to avoid him but he turned the same way I did. Landed on my shoulder blades and hit my head on the ice.”

“That look like I just got shmucked and your not gonna say anything or that shouldve been a penalty! Ya that look! Whiplash!!”

“Hah, part of it was also that I got shmucked by my own teammate. I must have been looking at you to commiserate.”

Yeah, what with all the sports and my own brand of awkward agility, I’ve hit my head plenty in my life, and had my bell rung enough, I’m sure, to rattle the already unsteady foundation of my cognitive abilities. But this was a good ‘un.

Falling backwards on the ice usually means something’s amiss. Either someone hit you but good or slew-footed you or slipped you a mickey. (Hi, 1920s, so nice of you to make an appearance in my vocabulary.) That, or you’re still Bambi-ing around on your skates, and fortunately, I at least grew out of that a while back. Every once in a while you’ll catch an edge transitioning backwards—and you will undoubtedly be 20 feet from any other skater, probably during warm-ups—and you’ll find yourself with what seems like five or 10 seconds to contemplate how you wound up horizontal with neither foot available to catch your fall. And then you will land squarely on a single ass cheek.

So, as you’ve gathered, mine was Friendly Fire—a teammate zigging as I zagged in a perfect mirror image, and boom: The Violent Dance of the D League. And even if they’ve got 80 pounds on you, sometimes guys are shaky enough on their skates that they’ll get the worst of it. But this guy was tall enough that instead of hitting him up high, which is a great balance-fucker on shaky skates, I landed square in his center of gravity.

It must’ve been a good one, too, ‘cause the ref (among the most competent ones available) blew the whistle—basically a “hey, some fool’s incapacitated” stoppage of play.

Of course, I didn’t know that this had happened until I got to my feet, trying to give a reassuring fist bump to the poor guy who seemed to be repeating, “I’m so sorry—I didn’t see you. I’m so sorry.” I just knew my head had snapped back and hit the ice—not unfamiliar in my hockey career, and one of those things that I usually think looks worse than it is. The helmet means it doesn’t hurt; the weight of it just means you’ll have whiplash later. As I was shaking out cobwebs, the ref’s voice came into focus: “You gotta go to the bench for a sec, ‘cause I stopped it.”

At which point, apparently, I glared at Kevin.

I started figuring it was worse as the day wore on: The back of my head actually did hurt a little—the phantom feeling of a bump. And my shoulder blades hurt; I must not have landed on my ass at all. Landing on your ass hurts like hell, but not landing on it suggests a pretty good collision, and an especially bad landing for the head and neck. Worst of all, my teeth hurt. Well, they hurt like my head hurt—not hurt, but I was more aware of them than I should have been.

It took me a long time to realize that, aside from sports like boxing and pro hockey (where the teeth really are at serious risk), mouthpieces are solely for preventing concussions. And to be fair, it probably took me so long to realize that because I used to remove my mandatory high school soccer mouthpiece and stick it in my sock.

But it wasn’t until Monday night, more than 24 hours after the fall, when I got a stabbing pain behind my left eyebrow that made my left eye weep like a faucet, that I really considered the seriousness of concussions in general, and this one in particular.

I do think concussion-related degenerative brain disorders, of pro athletes especially, are a real and scary issue. Although part of the reason I know they’re an issue is that I know what it’s like, at least a little. Injuries in sports are to be triumphed over, and concussions are almost always not about pain in the present moment. They don’t feel serious firsthand—either at the time or cumulatively. I didn’t even miss a shift on Sunday. (And, see, I really am bragging about that.) I don’t want to stop playing, and I’m not even getting paid for it.

So this is why it’s good to have a lot of well-meaning people around you, hounding you to go to the doctor. I’m feeling better now, but I know a nasty bump to the noggin  and three straight days of headaches are good reasons to see a medical professional. But I think I’m-a be OK.

I will say I’m considering wearing a mouthpiece now. But I will also say that I probably won’t, at least not right away. Brain damage, indeed.

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Klean Kevin (Still Krazy)

Inspired by 10-hour workdays in ditches, in June, in Florida, Krazy Kevin’s given up the drink. We celebrated his 30 days sober at Hooters on Wednesday with beer and Jager bombs.

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