A Former Blackhawk Has MS
NHL player Bryan Bickell was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Let me start by saying I’m a Chicago Blackhawks fan. Most people know that. It just so happens my 29th birthday party in 2014 was called “Carrie’s Bickell Birthday.” Bickell wore No. 29 when he played for the Hawks for nearly decade. So when I decided to have a Hawks-themed party at age 29, it only made sense that it was named after the player who wore No. 29.
But I digress…
Back to Bickell. Toward the end of his time with the Hawks, Bickell suffered from what was described as vertigo and missed several games. According to Chris Hine from the Chicago Tribune, recently Bickell woke up one morning and discovered a shooting pain in his shoulder. After a few days, he felt the same pain down in his leg and he knew something was wrong.
Writes Hine: “After Bickell underwent various tests, doctors informed him he has multiple sclerosis, the disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.”
Bickell’s doctors told him they discovered the disease early. That’s a good sign. To me, that means he must have relapsing/remitting MS and that at some point, with the right medication, he will have fewer relapses. I can’t pretend to know how he feels or what he thinks about all of this. It’s different for everyone.
For me, I always have pain. But it is managed with a daily medication. Fatigue is an issue, but I’m not a professional hockey player. I haven’t even played an organized sport since high school, unless you count recreational softball. But it’s not like that’s as rigorous as the NHL.
In 2012, another NHL player was also diagnosed with MS. Former Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding noticed issues with his neck before he was diagnosed. He continued to play hockey, but he broke is foot in the off-season was assigned to the Wild’s AHL affiliate for the 2014-15 season. After just two games, he decided to retire at age 30.
Bickell will be 31 next year. I know there’s no cure for our disease, and it will progress as we age. But it is my hope that someone as strong as him will be able to fight and keep playing a little while longer. I hope he can get back on the ice. And when he does, I’ll be cheering for him.