Healthy Living in the North

Man up: Learning to take our own advice

Steve and his family

Steve, pictured here with his wife Shelley and children Michael and Alyson, was a torch bearer for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Given my recent entry into my forties, I like to think that 42 is the new 22. Well when 22 meets 42 on the soccer field, I’m not so sure. While I won’t go into the details of the clearly savage slide tackle targeted at me (in my opinion, anyway), I can tell you about what happened after. I remember people around me asking, “Are you hurt or are you injured?” – meaning if I merely “hurt,” then man up and get back out there. I didn’t go back in the game, but I did take two aspirin and head home, and not straight to the emergency room (which I know now was the wrong choice). But I mean, it was just a sprain, right?

So off to work on Monday. Much to my surprise, the interesting two-step stride I took down the hall to my office was not met with weekend warrior adulation, but rather with raised eyebrows and the repeated question of “why haven’t you gotten it checked out yet?”  So realizing the audience here was not my team, off I went, 24 hours later, to get the ankle checked.

Through our Northern Health men’s health consultations last fall, we learned that men in the north are raised in a culture where “living hard” is normalized from an early age. It’s ingrained in us to be tough and macho, and unfortunately this is leading to unnecessary illness, disease and early deaths in northern men. So yes, I should know better to take care of my body and my health.

But of course my self-diagnosis was just a sprain, and I figured I’d be back on my feet in no time. Well the doc entered the room, post X-ray, with a grin, and said, “You’ve done this before haven’t you?” I smiled a bit, telling him, “Yeah, both ankles, many times. Lots of sprains over the years, nothing ice and heat can’t take care of.” He nodded and told me that’s what he thought because it’s not a normal ankle anymore. Please note the smile disappeared from my face at this point.

He continued to tell me that there is evidence of two past fractures, numerous bone chips and lots of previous ligament and tendon damage in my ankle. In fact, the x-ray was hard to read because of all the junk floating around in there. He did agree with me though – it was a definite sprain this time!

Perhaps I should have taken the advice of the very organization I work for. I should’ve manned up and had some of those past ‘sprains’ checked out. Apparently I wasn’t merely hurt but I was truly injured….oops.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity when you realized you should “man up?”

 

Steve Raper

About Steve Raper

Steve is the Chief of External Relations and Communications for Northern Health, where he leads marketing, communications, web and media relations activities. He has a business diploma from the College of New Caledonia, a BA from the University of Northern BC and a master’s degree in business administration from Royal Roads University. In his spare time, Steve volunteers on a number of boards, including Canadian Blood Services, Pacific Sport Northern BC and the Prince George Youth Soccer Association. To stay active, he enjoys camping, and playing soccer and hockey.

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Recovering from an injury? Slow and steady wins this race

Jonathon with Jay Feaster

Jonathon, with his crutches, posing with Jay Feaster, Calgary Flames general manager.

Ever had an injury that prevented you from participating in the activities you love? I’ve always loved to play team sports such as soccer, hockey, ultimate Frisbee, curling, and other activities including hiking, kayaking, and golf. Unfortunately, four years ago I hurt my knee playing soccer and the idea that I wouldn’t be able to do any of those while I recovered was more painful than the injury itself.

In December 2010 and July 2011 I went in for surgeries to repair my knee. The first surgery was to repair the meniscus, and the second was to repair my Anterior Crucial Ligament (ACL). From the time that I hurt my knee, to the clearance from the doctor that my knee was good for most activities again earlier this month, it was very hard for me to not be very active.

With any type of injury, it is critical to take care of yourself and ensure you get the proper treatment you need to heal. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. Immediately after my injury I went into the doctor, but being young and impatient, I made the impulse decision to play ball hockey anyway. Of course, this further damaged my knee and left me in a great deal of pain. After awhile, I finally realized I needed to take care of myself and I went back to the doctor to start on the path to recovery.

Prior to the injury I didn’t enjoy spending time at the gym, electing to get my physical exercise in other ways. But once I started going to the gym to do strengthening exercises for my knee, I found that being in a controlled environment like that helped me to ensure I wasn’t overworking my knee and potentially re-injuring it. Over time I have found activities at the gym that I enjoy and will continue to do even though I can now return to things like golf and hockey.

All in all, making sure to take care of myself after the surgeries meant being able to eventually return to the things I love. I learned that there’s no point in trying to be manly and walk off injuries.

My advice to anyone who has hurt themselves, especially men playing sports, is to man up and make sure to take care of your injury. For more information on men’s health, preventing and recovering from injuries, visit men.northernhealth.ca.

Jonathon Dyck

About Jonathon Dyck

Jonathon is a communications officer at Northern Health. Originally from Airdrie, Alberta, Jonathon has a broadcasting diploma from Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta, and a BA with a major in communications from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. Jonathon enjoys golf, hockey, curling, hiking, biking, and canoeing. He is also an avid sports fan and attends as many sporting events as humanly possible, including hockey, soccer, baseball, football, rugby, basketball, and lacrosse. (Jonathon no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)

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