Thursday, May 24, 2012

Penalties for Not Listening

Hockey player Paul Riome didn’t listen to his body or his doctor.  
Minor Penalty was undetected cancer.  Major Penalty was a permanent colostomy.  
Riome tells of his experiences, attitude adjustments, and comeback to hockey. 

The story is about overcoming colorectal cancer 
and showing other hockey “tough-guys” the importance of prevention.

Even with daily rectal bleeding for over 2 years, I refused tests and examinations.

“You got Cancer ...  Life-expectancy is uncertainReminiscent of nasty and unexpected hockey hits, I asked myself  “what the hell was that for?”  Of course there was no answer, but I adjusted quickly and vowed that after surgery, I would do everything that I could do before surgery, and I would play hockey again. 

Surgery day arrived.  A nurse fussed to be sure the hospital gown covered my backside.  I joked at the silly gesture, as a dozen people would see everything I had, from the outside and the inside. 
After 6 hours of surgery, “I am back and I am alive!”

During recovery at the hospital, I set my sights on completing what I named a sprint, a half-marathon, and a full-marathon (actually … a shuffle to the doorway, to the nursing station, then a full loop around the ward). 

The rehab routine was similar to hockey injuries, but the outcome would be drastically different, as the surgery damages could never be restored.  With trepidation, I started Public Skating, surrounded by grandparents teaching pre-school kids to skate.

Exactly four months after surgery, I was back playing hockey.  I was amazed at how many players made a point of acknowledgement, usually with the back-handed male style
‘… Nice you’re back, looking dangerous as ever’
‘… I always hated going into the corner with you, but now I’m really afraid of the sh*t flying’
‘… I thought with your butt sewn shut, that your stride would be shorter’  

After an aggressive altercation around the net, a large and hostile defenseman pummeled me with a verbal tirade of hockey-trash-talk.  I said ‘you can’t really call me that, because I don’t even have one’.  Instantly he went silent, smiled, put his arm around my shoulder, and said in amazement “you’re the one”

Hockey team-mates were curious, so I volunteered to answer any questions they had, and show them anything they wanted to see.  They all related to the red-neck attitude that prevents us from having rectal examinations and colonoscopies, even while knowing that these procedures are effective lifesavers.  
Earlier tests, with earlier detection, probably would have ‘saved my ass’ 
and I may have avoided the surgery and permanent colostomy  
Several wives (mostly with tears) told me it was my experience 
that convinced their husband to get a colonoscopy. 
I am humbly pleased that others have benefitted from my experiences

An ostomy is not as good as the original equipment 
but I get to live
Two years ago my doctor told me I could have a perfectly normal life with a colostomy. 
     I didn’t believe him then.  
     I do believe him now.

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