Empathizing with Sidney Crosby

I developed a sinus infection over the weekend. It wasn't fun.

It apparently came from being sick the previous week and, using excellent judgement, going for a run once I thought I was healthy. In the rain.

With mucus remaining from the previous malady and sinus inflammation resulting from the physical exertion and less than ideal conditions, an infection occurred. This is when the fun starts.

First, you get light-headed. Not all of the time. Just sometimes. You'll feel good, like nothing's wrong, get ready to go for a run, and then just feel weakness in your head. There goes that.

You'll get sore. Your body's working hard to deal with the parts that are wrong, so the parts that are right aren't given as much in the way of internal support.

Then, you'll get headaches. Or you may actually get the headaches first. I started to get intermittent headaches after a couple days. I'd be fine one second, adjust myself or move to another room and an ear-splitting migraine would develop. It was fun in the not at all way.

I was slated to cover a local high school hockey playoff game Monday night, but couldn't get my head in good enough shape to drive about three minutes to the ice rink.

I felt like a total wimp calling off. After waking up in good spirits and promising the editor that I'd handle the game, I reneged on said promise 30 minutes later when the headaches and light-headedness randomly popped back up.

And I mean, this wasn't physical activity. I wasn't out there trying to skate and balance myself on an unnaturally-created playing surface while wearing sharpened blades on my feet, using an intricately carved apparatus to control a tiny, frozen piece of vulcanized rubber while a bunch of large, strong professional athletes attempted to hit me with the full force of their bodies' capabilities.

No. I was trying to sit and watch kids play a game and type words about it. And I couldn't.

It was incredibly humbling, having the will, desire and ability to do something, but the inability to overcome problems in your head to do it. Not broken bones, sprains or ligament tears. Just balance and head pain.

It gave me an appreciation of not just what Sidney Crosby is trying to overcome, but what so many athletes must deal with and overcome. What a poor sap like Marc Savard has to wake up and manage on a daily basis. How much some NHLers desired success in the sport to play through the headaches, and the nausea, and the lack of balance... and how most of us just couldn't even tell they were.

We've all seen enough of the tweets, message board posts and articles from sad, ill-educated writers about how guys like Crosby aren't of the same mettle of past athletes who did play through concussions (even my beloved Jaromir Jagr demeaned concussions as just headaches this week).

Of course, most of those people never tried to play a sport at its highest level while recovering from physical damage to their brain. Or, apparently, care little of the prospect of having to live the rest of their life without being able to think straight.

Crosby's back tonight. Hopefully he'll be back for a long, long time. I may not know exactly how the last year's been for him, but after the last week, I think I, sadly, have some semblance of an idea.

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