23 May, 2011

Life After the World Championships for Ouellette

The day I came back from the World Championship, I was sad, and I was disappointed by our 2nd place result, and mostly, upset by my own performance. I expected more of myself, and hoped to have a bigger impact on the result. Still my aunt and uncle picked up my sorry a%# from the airport with a huge smile. My parents were waiting for me at home with my sister and her husband with the same pride they always have in me. I am sorry for being a crab (aka not in a good mood) at the time. Thank you family for understanding that I needed time and space to realize that this set-back does not define who I am, and is not consequential to the commitment I had in my preparation for the event.

The moment I entered my house, I knew that I wanted to go see my friend Noémie Marin who just earlier that day underwent ACL repair surgery. Noémie has been a great friend for over 10 years. She is the best friend one can have. She is without a doubt one of the players I have the best chemistry with on the ice. We played together for two years at the University of Minnesota Duluth and still play together with the Montreal Stars. She is my roommate, we share a 3 bedroom apartment in Montréal and I can tell you that she is the perfect roommate. The 3rd bedroom hosts our hockey equipment! Noémie suffered that knee injury in December and after almost two months of rehabilitation because her MCL was also torn, she came back to finish the season with the Montreal Stars. She also attended the National Women’s Team World Championship pre-camp and did extremely well considering she was skating on one leg.

I visited her at the hospital and it hurt to see in how much pain she was. Yet she was able to make me smile for the first time in a while. After a few days spent at home in Acton Vale, Noémie came back to the apartment. Noémie was still in a lot of pain, mostly in her calf area. Her foot was extremely swollen even though she iced often. Both areas were very hot. She had a physiotherapy appointment at the Olympic Stadium set-up a week after the surgery. We went together because she needs to use crutches and it is her right leg so driving is out of the question for a while. After the examination, the physiotherapist Rebecca Gagné decided to send us back to the hospital emergency because she saw signs of Thrombophlebitis. This condition is defined as an inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot.


After we waited 3 hours at the hospital, Noémie’s surgeon contacted her to go to a different emergency where we would be seen faster. After one hour at the new hospital, we were finally able to see a first doctor. He told us he was certain that it was negative because Noémie was not in enough pain and the swollen was not large enough. He had us see another doctor for a 2nd opinion which was about the same. One thing that theses doctors ignored is that Noémie’s tolerance to pain is most likely greater than most patients they see. For example, the doctor at National team camp could not believe Noémie could play hockey the way she did when she examined her knee.

But we had been waiting for almost 5 hours at the hospital so we insisted to have the test done to be sure! The nurse who performed the test found 2 veins that were obstructed and said ‘’Thank God you decided to stay’, this can be very dangerous.’’ We learned that complications are rare, but when they occur they can be serious. The most serious complication occurs when the blood clot dislodges, and can create an embolism, which can be potentially life threatening.

The medication process is intense. 12 days where blood tests must be performed and 12 days where medication must be injected in her belly. Medication must also be taken orally for a period up to three months. So the hospital set us up with a nurse who would come daily for the blood sample. I learned the next day to inject the shot into Noémie’s belly. Never thought I would act as a personal nurse someday!

What has been very disturbing is to find out from our physio center is that they had recently referred a young man our age to that same hospital with similar symptoms and he was sent home without the test being done, and passed away soon after because the cloth dislodged. We realized how lucky she had been to be treated on time. It was really an eye-opening for me to see how fragile life can be. It gives some perspective on all the games I wished I had won and makes me wish above everything that Noémie is able to fight her way to having her health back. Tomorrow we go back to the hospital to see how the medications has affected the condition and we hope for the best.

I am back at training and it feels good to be! Next week I am hoping to write from Bénin in Africa! Or I will soon after report on that amazing experience I am lucky to take part in!

Caro

Website: www.carolineouellette.ca

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