Monday, July 14, 2014

Hockey and Hernias, Part II: Plan B, Plan Let's See

A lot of AMHlers and other hockey friends have asked me when I’ll be back playing hockey.  I’m grateful for their compassion and support.

Not sure, is what I tell them, or I shrug my shoulders.

Have I retired?

No. Well, probably. At least from real competitive hockey. Maybe not, though, from pick-up activity. My return to any form of significant exercise other than walking will depend upon what magic the hockey goods might contribute to my healing. I want to alleviate the pain incurred from surgery to fix what medical professionals refer to as athletic pubalgia and/or a sports hernia.

Essentially, it’s an injury affecting the pelvic floor or inguinal canal. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, diagnosis is difficult because MRI’s usually don’t reveal the damage that we know is there and that will not heal on its own. (Any doctor who tells you to “give it time because you’re old” and who is not familiar with this conditions probably isn’t the right doctor for you.). Surgery tends to be the only recourse to find the torn tissue.

For those of you who’ve benefited from surgical repair, more power to you. I wish you continued hockey happiness.

For those whom surgery has not healed, or who too often feel even worse, you may find company at this Mayo Clinic online forum or perhaps here, where I’ll continue to share my experience.

I don’t fault my surgeons for their baffled reactions to why my pain is just as intense and more widespread than what it was before surgery in 2010; they were clear from the outset that about five percent of surgeries are unsuccessful. The reasons, from what one of my surgeons has told me, are all over the map.

The surgeon can inject steroids to the painful area and call for additional MRIs. In my case, these steroids haven’t helped, and additional MRIs (from different providers) have not shown any evidence of damage. Exploratory surgery is not something the surgeon wants to do, and I don’t blame him.

Rather than waiting for MRI technology to improve, I’ve researched options for those of us who want to get back to focusing on sports, fun, family…whatever arena that gives us purpose and contentedness.

Pelvic floor therapy. My new Plan A. This is not about “strengthening the core,” what traditional physical therapists help their clients with; this is about releasing what might be an entrapped nerve.

Trigger point massage. Probably Plan B. Larry Warnock here in the Boston area has been a terrific resource. He’s proactive in the TPM community and responsive to email. If you’re outside New England, ask a local TPM therapist about what Larry “Thejocdoc” Warnock calls a “pelvic unwind.” My insurance doesn’t cover massage, but the cost is reasonable and not prohibitive.

Cold-laser light therapy. Plan C? Proactive and responsive to email also describes acupuncturist Craig Armine. He’s based in Phoenix, AZ and tells me that it’s important for cold laser administrators, typically chiropractors and acupuncturists, to use 500 milliwatt lasers in a cluster formation at a wavelength of 810 nm.

Magnetic Resonance Neurography. Partly because MRN is a relatively new procedure, it’s much more expensive than an MRI. I’m not sure if insurance would cover it. And I hear that the MRN may not define the problem.

I’ll let you know more in August, after I visit with a pelvic floor specialist.

Please email with any questions. I’m happy to help. 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Top Twelve: “Happy” Hockey, Happy Canada, (Happy Donuts)

Last week I asked co-workers about earworms. “Happy,” someone said, but the song gets too much airplay.

AMHL Tuesday Champs: The Penguins
Never heard of it.

But now that I’ve listened to Pharrell Williams’s hit, the song has stuck itself to my psyche and has prompted my fingers to Google the heck out of “Happy,” hockey, Canada (and donuts). The investigation spawned these personal reflections about gratitude, so I present—may sound unreal what I’m ‘bout to reveal—these Top Twelve “Happy” highlights:

1.      Team Italy Sledge Hockey: They could complain about their missing limbs but instead have chosen to be “Happy.”
2.      Happy in Kelowna: Happy (and a hockey player) beats hate.
3.      The Happy Donut: Free Fritter Friday makes me smile like the blue-eyed donut logo. Myrtle Creek, Oregon is on my to-donut list.
4.      Happy Hockey in Hingham (MA): An eleven-or twelve-year old, awarded a penalty shot, juked the goalie—and himself. The goalie flopped, and the skater toppled before the latter could shoot. As the forlorn youth skated to his bench, an opponent skated behind him and offered encouragement or empathy or some “Happy” thought. At least I hope that’s what happened.
5.      Happy for Can-Am Connection # 1: Our friends from PEI, attending the Hingham hockey tournament, paid for dinner. Good times talking about hockey and (lemon) donuts.
6.      Bruins vs. Canadiens: I’m happy that Shawn Thornton accepted P. K. Subban’s apology.
7.      Happy in Montreal: McGill students go overboard in Underground City.
8.      Happy in Halifax: The patients and staff at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre find their “Happy” place. I especially enjoyed the Hula-Hoopers.
9.      Happy to read about St. Andrews, NB in the Boston Globe: See you, St. Andrews—the safe house, Niger Reef and Honeybeans, in six weeks.
10.  Happy Youth Hockey: Jay Atkinson’s piece in the Boston Globe Magazine highlights the need for more fun, less fighting for a scholarship.
11.  Happy for Can-Am Connection #2: The AMHL Photographer and I will return to Montreal next weekend. Round Two between the Bruins and Canadiens will be over, but Puckbite and I will still be friends.
12.   AMHL Championship: Happy to hear that Tim Cook won his first-ever AMHL championship as a goalie, leading his Penguins to a 3–2 victory over the Leafs.
13.  (Baker’s Dozen) Happy to be writing: Not so much on this site as I’m writing offline to rebuild Seamus J. O’Sheehan’s Castle.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Why Oh Y: Scott Zolak, Vowels and The NHL Trade Deadline

Scott Zolak is not a Caillou fan. What kind of father, Zolak wondered on Monday, would burden his son with a name that ends in a vowel. Zolak, a world renowned linguist, professional Scrabble player and co-host of the Gresh & Zo show on Boston’s 98.5 Sports Hub, defended his stance by deploying the oldest trick in the linguists’ playbook: referencing Greek mythology and the Boston Bruins.

Zolak was bewildered that his comments sparked more reaction from listeners more concerned about the alphabet than chatter about the Bruins trade deadline (today).

Bruins President Cam Neely was watching an episode of Caillou in his office at the TD Garden when Peter Chiarelli, a devout Gresh & Zo fan, marched into Neely’s office to relay Zolak’s logic. Neely turned off the TV and then responded to Zolak’s tirade.

“Zo, well he’s a lexical authority. Although I’m fond of Caillou, such a wonderful little bald boy, we’re going to take action on Zo's comments. You guys in the media will find out soon enough from TSN, so I may as well tell you now. We might have to trade Loui Erikkson to the St. Louis Blues for future consonants, er considerations, and two furies. Yes, that’s right I said furies. What, you think I don’t like Greek mythology?”

Why Loui?

“We have to,” Neely said. “We’re carrying too many players whose first names end with an A, E, I, O or U. And Y. As much as we love Loui, that diphthong plus one vowel really puts us over the limit. We must move these vowels.”

Eriksson, as soft spoken as a silent E, declined to comment on his status and teammates who might be on the trading block and who might raise Zolak’s ire.

Budding stars like Torey Krug or Dougie Hamilton? Valuable veterans like Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara? Minor leaguers like Tommy Cross or Zane Gothberg? The Bruins roster contains seventeen players whose first names end with a vowel.

Who’s next?

“You’ll have to ask Zolak,” Neely said, shrugging his shoulders, “if he’s not watching Wheel of Fortune. He doesn’t like to be interrupted during that show.”


Tune into the Sports Hub with Gresh & Zo. Maybe Zolak will say he’s sorry? Probably not. Why? Oh boy, don’t get him started with Y.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Top Twelve

1. Patrice Bergeron’s game-winner for the Bruins against the Maple Leafs—hear the Dave Goucher's call or from the announcers in Finland.

2. Writing to Pope Francis, asking for his opinion about Holy Donuts in Portland, ME. (Papa Francisco: Espero su respuesta.)

3. Celebrating twenty years of marriage to the AMHL Photographer.

4. Seeing my little brother, Dennis (the one with the most hockey talent in our family and an Avalanche/Michael Jackson fan) and his youth hockey pals and other punks all grown up.


6. Publishing a piece at Puck Daddy.

7. St. Andrews, NB: Our annual visit to the safe house where the protagonist in my novel plays hockey and mentioning the sea-side town in a song I wrote.

8. Learning how to play “I Wanna Drive the Zamboni” (Gear Daddies) on the guitar (I know the basics, anyway) as well as playing tunes by Canadians Michael BublĂ© and Bryan Adams.

9. The Bear and the Gang Christmas Spectacular: Everything from Dave Goucher’s voice to Patrice Bergeron’s Christmas present, to Dougie Hamilton’s red nose to Rene Rancourt’s toboggan ride with the Bear. Fa la la laugh out loud.

10. Tuukka Rask—two Us, two Ks… and Zdeno Chara—two goals—shut out the Flames.  This was a special game not just because Jerome Iginla’s ex-team was at the TD Garden but also because it was 80’s night: Terry O’Reilly dropped the honorary puck, and the in-game music included an a-ha moment and New Kids on the Block.

11. J.-P. Plouffe’s eccentric world where hockey, society, and art all get along (mostly).


12. Reconnecting with my AMHL friends after the Thursday Fall 2013Championship Game