I can’t remember an exact incident that led to my injury, no big hit or fall, just that I started having pain in my shoulder and that it progressively got worse. As a member of the varsity women’s hockey team at Carleton University I was fortunate enough to have a dedicated athletic therapist to help assess my injuries. However not having a reason for the pain initially, we didn’t think much of it, especially since I had separated that same shoulder a few years prior. I was put on a strengthening plan and would get it taped for ice times, and this was the coping strategy for the duration of my third season.
It was assumed that aggravation was the main problem behind the pain, but the following summer when the pain was even worse with less exertion I was finally sent for an MRI. During the training camp of my fourth year the results came in and I found out that I had a labral tear. I was told that the injury likely wouldn’t get much worse if I decided to play, but I was worried with a new coach that it could affect my standing on the team. I had a decision to make, play through the pain for another season or get surgery and take the year off. I don’t regret my decision to choose to play last season, however I had no idea the amount of pain that I would end up playing through. While the injury may not have gotten worse it certainly became more painful.
Having access to the school doctors made a huge difference as they were able to prescribe pain killers and give me cortisone injections in order to help manage the pain. I also had to purchase a special shoulder brace to wear under my equipment at all times. I know I wouldn’t have been able to have played without their support, but it was the most frustrating year of my career constantly having to compete with my own body.
I planned on getting my surgery in May and then being able to play a fifth and final season with the team, however I had to change surgeons and go back for a second MRI as well as an x-ray so I was unable to get my surgery until August. The doctor stitched down the labral tear, detached and re-attached my bicep in a different part of the shoulder and shaved a centimeter of bone from my AC joint. Due to the nature of the surgery it is a six month recovery period at best, meaning that I had to forgo this season. I could have delayed the surgery another season, but I couldn’t imagine another season needing more injections, medications and pain. This was an extremely difficult decision, but I think I knew all along that it was best for me.
I still have one more year left of eligibility as well as a final year of school, so I am hopeful that I can return to hockey next season pain free.