Concussion-gate 2.0: No Time Table

Sidney Crosby sat during the last two Pens games as a precaution after taking a few hits and knee-to-knee collision with line-mate Chris Kunitz on December 5th in the game against the Bruins. Today, Crosby announced that he is experiencing some concussion symptoms and will forego practicing and playing until he is once again symptom free, as he should.

So the Pens Panic Button has returned. The Pittsburgh Doctor Squad is out in full effect. Speculation. Rumors. Anger at the team. Anger at Crosby. Making fun of Crosby. Sarcasm toward the team and Crosby. Total chaos. The Internet and social media can be your worst enemy. This is one of those times.

The only people who are able to speak with authority on the status of Sidney Crosby are Sidney Crosby and his doctors. Quite frankly, no matter what any fan thinks or feels, this is a private matter. His health and health records and status of this health are not our business. The onus to disclose information and what to disclose is on Sid (thank you, Brendan Shanahan). The age of the Internet though has given people a sense of entitlement to know every last detail. When they don’t know every detail, well that is when rumors begin.

Per the Pens website and the media scrum with Crosby following today’s practice, Sid had this to say:

“I did my ImPACT test and it went pretty good. That was a good sign.
It’s much different than previously going through that stuff. That was encouraging.”

He went on to say that after the Boston game, he wasn’t feeling right and the next day took the ImPACT test but he feels better than he did in August.

The reaction is more of the same. More over analyzing and over reading into everything. (This is what they said, but this is what they didn’t say…)

Concussions are tricky. There is no textbook way to treat one. There is no easy way to monitor them. Some people are saying the Pens let him play too much too soon. Maybe. Maybe not. We aren’t doctors though and no two concussions are alike. I have had two and they were as different as night and day. Criticizing the doctors and coaches is preposterous. Getting a concussion doesn’t mean that any effects at all are immediately noticeable.

The first time, I was injured during a softball game on a Saturday afternoon. My coach sat me the remainder of the game, even though I insisted that I could play. After the game, I went out with my friends for the night and acted like a normal, out of control teenage girl. I felt fine. No headache, not sick at all.

It wasn’t until Tuesday that I was completely disoriented, vomiting and my head hurt so bad I couldn’t function. Within a week, I was back to normal and back out on the softball field without a problem. However, 11 years later, if I push myself too hard at the gym I get mild symptoms. Head pressure, light headedness, etc.

My second concussion happened on October 6th of this year. I felt effects within an hour. The symptoms weren’t the same, but I knew what was wrong. Three weeks later, I still couldn’t handle being in bright lights. I was constantly nauseous, would be walking and suddenly feel like the floor was falling out from under me and have to grab onto something to stand upright. I could be perfectly fine one minute and the next I’d be in tears because my ears were ringing and I felt like my head was in a clamp. Within ten minutes I could feel back to normal but then five minutes more would pass and I’d feel like I was under water for the next hour with all of this head pressure.

You just don’t know how you will feel. It took almost two full months for symptoms to subside, but it was a full month where I had symptoms every single day almost all day long. You cannot predict how you will feel an hour from now let alone try to set a timetable for when you will be back at full health.

Given all of that, I cannot and will not speculate regarding Crosby’s health. His concussion is different than both of mine. The only person who can say how he feels is him. Marc Staal still has not returned from the concussion he sustained back in February. I’d call that pretty serious as well all things considered. (Is anyone worried about Marc Staal? Just a question.)

So here is where I become extremely unpopular. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows all of this already. I am not worried about Sidney Crosby. Hockey is a sport. Watching it is a hobby for me. I love the game. It’s always been a part of my life in one way or another. But at the end of the day, for me it is a game. I understand that is not the same for everyone else. You are certainly entitled to take hockey and Sidney Crosby as seriously as you wish. You can worry your little heart out. But don’t think that I am insensitive or mean spirited because I don’t place an athlete that I don’t know at the top of my list of things to care about.

As a human, I wish Sidney Crosby all the best just the same as I wish every other person on this planet good health and safety. But I wish Sid no more and no less than any other person. I don’t want anyone to be injured or in pain or to live with illness and injury. But reality is not so. People get hurt and get sick every day. There are people in South Africa who live with AIDS and no way to combat it because their own military and government are raping innocent women and children daily, spreading this horrible disease and denying them medical treatment.

Sidney Crosby is important to hockey. But if he wasn’t there, someone else would be the face of hockey and one day someone else will be the new face of hockey. He is talented and a good role model. But so is my brother who served two tours of duty overseas. And boy do I hope my son looks up to my brother more than he looks up to Sidney Crosby. Sid is a great player to aspire to be like. But my brother, he is a good man to aspire to be like.

So I don’t worry about the health of Sidney Crosby. I wish him nothing but the best, but my worrying lies where it counts most for me. I worry that my son is healthy. I worry that my son has a roof over his head, food in his belly, clothes on his back and that I am doing everything in my power to ensure that he has those things. If I have time to worry about Sidney Crosby’s health, then I am not trying hard enough to do my job as a parent. I let Sidney Crosby’s mom worry about him.

That is how I view this mania. If there was no more hockey tomorrow, my life would move on. If there was no more Sidney Crosby playing hockey tomorrow, my life would move on and quickly. If there was no more Jordan though tomorrow, my life would be over. And I wouldn’t expect one of my reader’s lives to change or for their minds to worry for one moment because of tragedy in my life. It would be my burden to bear.

Put your worrying and your cares wherever you see fit. That is your prerogative. That is your right. And this one is mine.

Be well, Sid. Be strong. But do it for you.

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2 responses to “Concussion-gate 2.0: No Time Table

  1. Thank you for a bracing dose of perspective. We get to feeling like we know the athletes we follow, and it’s a terrible thing to watch someone who loves a sport that much get hurt so badly by that very sport. I keep thinking of Dale Earnhardt, who died as he lived on the Daytona International Superspeedway. I felt guilty then, because I was one of the paying fans there and that man had literally died for my and others’ entertainment. I couldn’t watch NASCAR for months. I wonder how many Penguins fans feel a twinge of guilt. Without the game of hockey and people like us watching it, Crosby might be the cute barista at the Cole Harbour Tim Hortons, but at least he wouldn’t be in *this* situation.

    At the same time, people we really know and love, who really know and love us back, get hurt all the time, just as you did with your concussions. (I’ve had 2 concussions myself.) They take risks, often for noble causes, like your brother in the military. You’re absolutely right–Sidney Crosby will be taken care of, one way or another. Maybe our own neighbor right in front of us doesn’t have a staff of doctors and millions of dollars, though, and could really use a little bit of our time and help.

    Crosby helped lead me into Penguins and hockey fandom–I’ve said that my wife made me watch hockey, but he made me want to watch it all by myself. I want him to be well and play again for that. I want him to be well because 23 is an absurdly young age to peak and because he’s a fellow human being. But he should only be a top priority for his family and the Penguins organization. Fans like us can wait, and take a look elsewhere sometimes.

    Sorry for writing my own blog entry in your comments just to say “I pretty much agree with you,” but I’m not taking back a word. You shouldn’t, either. And I hope you are doing well.

  2. I appreciate your thoughtful response. Write as much as you’d like! I welcome the conversation!

    I remember watching the race where Earnhardt died. My uncle was at that race. It was a terrible thing, but I think I felt worse that his son was there to witness it. I tend to view tragedy in terms of human loss, not anything else. I wrote a blog for the news website I blog for about the Lokomotiv but my big point there was that while iit was a sad day for hockey, the real sadness was that like in any other plane crash, people lost their family members. That is tragedy. 43 people gone in an instant, all with wives, parents, children, siblings that will live the rest of their lives without them. That is what was sad.

    I am human and I do hope Crosby gets better, but I won’t lose a wink of sleep over it. You have your wife and family to worry about and I have my family to worry about. That’s all the worry I have time for in my life. They deserve my undivided efforts.

    And I am doing well. Hope you are too! :)

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