Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hockey and Hernias, Part IV: Men's Pelvic Health

“Have you ever had a pelvic exam?” my PT specialist asked.

Sure, I surmised. Doctors’ hands thumping on the region between my fifty-year-old hips, physical therapy, and surgery—all that must count for something, right?

No, this would be a different kind of probing, an internal exploration of the pelvic floor region.

Yikes. Okay.

After the test, eight sessions of myofascial release, prescribed light pelvic movements and a ton of Internet research, here’s what I’ve discovered.

·         Pelvic health problems apply to women and men. Just because we males don’t bear children doesn’t mean we’re exempt from chronic pelvic pain syndrome, pudendal neuralgia, pudendal nerve entrapment or a combination of these (pelvic myoneuropathy).
·         “Pelvic” pertains to more than what meets the hip.
·         The perineum supports the diaphragm, bladder and bowel and is bordered by the pelvic floor.
·         We have two superficial transverse perineal (STP) muscles. They stabilize the perineum. They remind me of shock absorbers. In my case, the left STP is more clenched—as if bracing itself against additional injury—than the right.
·         Many people, myself included, have forgotten how to breathe like a baby; stress and fatigue cause us to inhale through the chest rather than through the rib cage, thus putting unhealthy pressure on the perineum.
·         Everything’s connected: Abdominal bloating, pelvic floor and radiating pain come and go and vary in type intensity and duration, but guided meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, playing the guitar, walking and light exercise can deflate the symptoms and, more importantly, the negative “here-it-comes-again/what-am-I-doing-wrong/I’m-never-going-to-be-free-of-this thinking that enters my mind.
·         Progress will be slow and is best measured by what pain I can tolerate or how often I reach for Advil. For example, if I play golf and am not debilitated the next day or two (did that twice in the last month), then I’m on the right track.
·         My STP is more relaxed than it was before the eight sessions.
·         Dealing with healthcare insurance and the pending appeal for additional sessions is a pain in the perineum.
·         I have options as I await that decision and for UMASS Worcester to develop a better MRI: Restorative yoga, cold laser therapy or trigger point massage for hockey players.

I can’t say when or even if I’ll ever return to the AMHL but am grateful for the opportunity to help others with this same injury and similar conditions. I’m grateful for the proactive professionals who care about and for me and who have responded to email. I thank goodness for financial and spiritual stability, the guitar my mom and dad gave me, my wife, my hockey friends and….the list goes on as long as I want it to.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Top Twelve: The 2013-2014 Boston Bruins

Patrice Bergeron’s hat trick against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night may be the first of special memories this year—but before the regular season commences, let’s take one longing glance at last season.

I present these Top Twelve highlights:

1.      Fitness first—it’s Zdeno Chara and. Kevin Millar with 31 pull-ups each; the shuttle run and heaving diaphragms gasping for air. Who plays with Chris Kelly on the third line: Carl Soderberg? Reilly Smith? Jordan Caron? Matt Lindblad? Anthony Camara? “Coaches and management,” says Dennis Leary, “have to start thinking about who will stay and who will go.” See and hear it all on Behind the B.
2.      More from Behind the B: Frisbee golf and forging friendships at the team-building retreat. Game One at the TD Garden against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Chris Kelly’s goal on a penalty shot starts the season right.
3.      Same episode—about a dozen minutes in. Matt Bartkowski and Tory Krug talking donuts and listening to Rush.
4.      Tough guy Torey Krug gets in to a fight and then skates to the penalty box. I can’t remember which game is was or who he fought, but I do recall Krug sitting down and then tucking his hair behind his ears.
5.      Halloween Night. My wife and I dressed, like normal human beings, stroll through the North End. A giant spider dangles from the doorway at Polcari’s as adolescents amble about and parents push their bedecked wee ones in strollers. The home team’s attack is woeful against the Anaheim Ducks, but our boys win in a shootout.
6.      Thanksgiving in VA. Listening to the Bruins on Internet radio. To my dismay, the Pittsburgh Penguins tie the game with .03 seconds remaining in the third period, but Krug scores the OT winner. Much merriment. Thank you.
7.      A Two-s-day Night in Alberta. Two Us, two Ks…two points for the B’s as Tuukka Rask earns his second shutout of the season The Bruins beat the Calgary flames, 2–0. Jerome Iginla earns two assists. And Johnny Boychuk returns to Boston to greet the next two Bruins fans to join his family. .
8.      Chief Travel Officer and Ticket Master. Johnny Bucyk, the team’s travel coordinator, carries his own luggage. As cheerful as they come, Chief fulfills ticket requests at the Game Day Breakfast.
9.      The Bear and the Gang, Christmas Spectacular. Produced when leaves still cling to New England’s trees, this video is a winner. Third Star: Rene Rancourt’s magic microphone. Second star: Patrice Bergeron as the proud owner of a shiny new weed eater. First Star: the Bear.
10.  Credit Card Roulette. At Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Jordie Caron foots the dinner bill.
11.  Per Johan Axelsson; He still sports the great hair and is still a snazzy dresser. Now P. J. is a scout for the B’s, and he’s on the road with his colleagues and management watching his former team on National TV against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Black and Gold lose in a shootout. Too bad none of the current Bruins deployed the move P. J. used against the Blackhawks in 2008.
12.  Frozen Yogurt Fraser. Rookie Matt Fraser’s admission that he was working off a froyo—this after he scored the OT winner in Game Three against the Canadiens—served as a sweet and serendipitous post-game interview. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dishing Hockey and Donuts with Award-Winning Author Roland Merullo

Award-winning author Roland Merullo loves hockey (and donuts) as much as I do. He wrote something to that effect to me and then signed his name in the copy of Lunch with Buddha I had purchased.

I haven’t read all of his books, such as the one with a donut on the cover, but I will buy them because I anticipate more hockey, more donut references. But it’s more than that. The magic of Merullo is his thought-provoking style of storytelling. He makes me question my own behavior and beliefs but not in a Thou-shalt, heavy-handed fashion. His fiction is unique yet real, affirming and enlightening, funny, spell-binding.

Characters in his books seem to have a thing for hockey and those halo-like treats that serve as one of this site’s hallmarks, so I asked Merullo about this connection. We traded email, and I now present these six questions and answers.  

Jim Dwyer: I know you shy away from donuts now—but what donut do you equate with paradise?

Roland Merullo: Honey dipped or chocolate honey dipped, but my tastes are eclectic.

JD: When you were twenty-four, you broke your back. So hockey, as you wrote in a 2012 Facebook posting, is "off the table." But you must have played as a kid in Revere or at Phillips Exeter. What are one or two of your fondest recollections of those days?

RM: I skated at the MDC rink in Revere, and play street hockey in front of my house, but I never was on the ice with a stick until 11th grade at Exeter. I made the club all-star team, and have many great memories from those days. I also played a little club hockey at B.U. and Brown, and in a men’s league on an outdoor rink the one year we lived on Martha’s Vineyard (my wife taught at the high school). That was AFTER the broken back. Many great memories but my last goal was a tip-in on a shot from the left point. I just laid out my stick and it went into the upper right-hand corner. A good shot to retire on.

JD: One more real-life question before we move on to your books: Who was and perhaps still is your favorite hockey player?

RM: Eddie Shack, hands down. I liked his nuttiness.

(JD’s note: Eddie once owned a few donut shacks, so to speak).

JD: In Breakfast with Buddha, Otto Ringling has a hockey scar. How would Otto describe the incident that gave him that mark on his neck?

RM: He was on the wrong end of a high stick.

JD: Otto's "breakfast" companion, Volya Rinpoche, loves miniature golf, but what does he think of hockey?

RM: Well, he’s from Siberia, so we have to assume he would enjoy it. He fell asleep at a baseball game, however. I saw one game in Russia, actually the USSR, in 1977, when they still called themselves amateurs. No fighting, a little checking, but the best passing I have ever seen.

JD: If Rinpoche were to meet Jesus in an American Savior sequel, where would they meet for donuts?

RM: The donut shop where Jake meets Janet in Allston in my novel, A Little Love Story. It’s made up, based loosely on a shop in Hadley, MA, on Route 9, with a very talkative Greek owner.

Check out a Merullo novel or non-fiction book from your local library. Buy one from a real or virtual shelf and then have him sign it at one if his events

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jesus Loves Donuts

Jesus loves donuts.

I know this because I read it in a wonderful novel: American Savior, by Roland Merullo. A best-selling and award-winning author, Merullo tends to inject subtle donut and/or hockey references into his books. I read Breakfast with Buddha in 2012 and Lunch with Buddha in 2013. Both are gripping stories with believable characters. They traverse America in pursuit of food and spiritual nourishment, but neither novel features a character who loves donuts as much as Jesus.

On the campaign trail that crisscrosses the United States—Jesus is running for president—the candidate orders his modern-day disciples to stop at donut shops.

The Savior is no goalie, though, as implied in the Boston expression about Espo scoring on a rebound. But he could be a forward or defenseman, according to the narrator. A wise-cracking and skeptical TV reporter, Russ is a regular Doubting Thomas who wants to believe.

He suggests that this Jesus he’s just met could be as manly as hockey player sitting in the sin bin and a man who has not lost an ounce of his feminine kindness.

Jesus, in Merullo’s depiction, feels like a good friend. The sort of fella with whom I could discuss benevolent anarchy. The kind of guy who would sing a song by the Carpenters with me. A dude with whom I could break bread or donuts.