When Lukas Bengtsson signed with the Penguins, many had lofty dreams of him making big contributions to the NHL club on the blue line. He started the season in the AHL, and little did we know, his biggest struggle would not be making it with the NHL team — but with his own health, eventually being diagnosed with POTS Syndrome.
Up until now, it seemed to appear that the only thing we knew of was his Lyme Disease diagnosis earlier in the season, and this appears to be a new development.
In an exclusive interview with Sportbladet, Bengtsson discussed coming over to the United States to play and how his health changed everything, including how he has handled his diagnosis.
Some excerpts of this interview translated below (Note: Translations done using Google Translate, may lack complete accuracy):
“When it was time for a so-called "main camp" had the NHL club prepared various tests. One of the tests was about cycling where players would ride as far as they could in three minutes. Afterwards Bengtsson lying on the floor for 30-40 minutes with terrible pain in his legs. One of the players told me afterwards that I was deathly pale. I started feeling worse every day in the camp. Then came a workout that NHL coaches were in. I felt so bad that I hardly knew what to do on the ice. I missed the passing of two meters, the things I could do if I closed my eyes, and I felt it was something that was not right. I ran on and completed the workout, but afterwards I just sat and stared at the floor and felt weird shit.”
It’s scary to read about how he encountered this all, going from feeling normal and ready to go into camp and fight for a roster spot, and then come down with this mysterious illness.
After extensive testing of the world's leading clinic in Minnesota, he got the answer just two weeks later: POTS syndrome, a complex and rare disease. “The amount of tests I did every day was totally sick. I almost looked like a junkie with brands from all blood samples and tests I did.”
It’s crazy how things come to be, and how he discovered this illness when he did.
“They think I had this for three or four years. They believe that the disease may have come from glandular fever I had when I was 17 years old. In hindsight, I understand why I have all these years been more tired than usual. My family and some friends, has repeatedly joked that I often say I'm tired.”
When asked about his future and his goals of playing in the NHL, it’s hard not to commend his attitude.
“It's hard to not think of hockey. But I have not felt like a man in almost a year. I put most focus on getting well. I played 16 matches with a disease and the club was very pleased. What I'm thinking a lot about is how good it had been able to go without all this. By talking openly about POTS Syndrome wants Lukas Bengtsson get medical care in Sweden to open their eyes to the disease and help others who might carry it. There is not enough knowledge about it, it is a relatively new disease and there are many who have this without knowing it. People do tests here and there, and many are told they are mentally ill. To hear it, when you already feel so bad, does not improve matters. If they had put such a diagnosis to me I do not know what I had taken me to. Hopefully I can help others who are going through this without being aware of what it is. I myself am enormously grateful that the disease still bloomed in the US and I ended up at the Mayo Clinic. It has hopefully saved my future to be able to live as normal a life as possible and to continue what I love: playing hockey.”
Regardless what happens with Bengtsson’s future as a hockey player, we can all agree that we wish him the best with his own health first and foremost.
(A stick-tap to Patrik Bexell from Eyes on the Prize for the heads-up on this story)