Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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My Lucky Chin Strap

At my hockey game tonight, I learned that I’ve been playing without a chin strap on my helmet. Like, for my entire hockey playing career. Now, when it comes to hockey gear, I’m usually the safety queen. I’m the one who guilts and/or scares the other players into wearing neck guards with graphic descriptions of blood shooting out of their carotid arteries. I’m *that* guy. So to find out I’ve been playing with a key piece of safety equipment for, did I mention, my entire hockey playing career was quite a shock! How did I find out, you ask? Well, the ref in tonight’s game came up to me and pointed out that my chin strap was missing. “I have a chin strap!” I said, confusedly, pointing at, you know, the strap around my chin. “That’s not a chin strap,” he said. Turns out that the thing that I had always assumed was my chin strap because, you know, it’s a strap and it goes around my chin, is actually just the strap for my face shield and the little thingamabob that your chin sits in1. You are, apparently, supposed to have a different strap, one that hangs loosely underneath your chin and makes sure your helmet doesn’t come off. Though how my helmet could possibly come off when it is tightly attached by the strap-that’s-not-a-chin-strap, I have no idea.

not a chin strap


chin srap

Also, how I have managed to play hockey for 7 or 8 years2 without ever having a chin strap and without anyone ever noticing until now is also a bit of a mystery. I mean, I’ve played in three different leagues in three different arenas, plus provincials, plus two tournaments (including one in Vegas) and no one has EVER NOTICED. My best guess is that ref was totally checking me out. But I digress.

So the ref tells me that “It’s very nice that you have *this* [indicating the not-a-chin-strap], but that is not a mandatory piece of equipment.  You cannot play another shift until you get a chin strap.” GAH! Our team was already playing with only two lines and now I can’t pay until I find a chin strap!

So I run off to the pro shop and totally interrupt some poor kid who was just trying to buy a hockey stick with my “I NEED A CHIN STRAP AND I NEED IT FAST!! I’M MISSING SHIFTS AND MY TEAM IS SHORT!3” And, FSM bless them, the boys in the pro shop were like a Nascar pit stop crew – they hooked me up with a chin strap and replaced two screws in my helmets with clips so that I could attach both my chin strap and my not-a-chin strap4. And they did it so fast AND for free! Go pro shop boys!5

And, would you believe, that when I got back into the game I scored the most beautiful goal I’ve *ever* scored in my entire hockey playing career?  I’m talking I threw on the super-speed, stole the puck from the other team, got a breakaway, and shot that puck top shelf where momma keeps the cookie jar!

It pretty much looked like this, except that I’m much prettier than Mike Pecca:

And for that goal, I credit my new lucky chin strap!

  1. no clue what that thing is called. A chin guard, maybe? []
  2. I can’t remember exactly when I started playing hockey and at first I was thinking it was about 6 years, but now that I think about it, it’s got to be at least 7, possibly 8. I’ve been done school for more than 4 years and I’m sure I played for three seasons at UBC while I was a student []
  3. where by “short” I mean we only had two lines, so without me they were playing with just three wingers. Not short as it “no one on my team is taller than 5 ft!” []
  4. incidentally, this is how I know that I’ve *never* had a chin strap before. I’ve had a full face shield on my helmet from day 1 – I’m far too pretty to play hockey without my pretty, pretty face being protected – yet I only had one set of clips on my helmet. Ergo, I could never have played with a chin strap because there was nowhere that it could have been attached. Also, incidentally, it was the man who would later become my ex-husband who originally put my face shield onto my helmet, so he must be the one who took off the chin strap that I’m sure must have come with the helmet when I bought it, given that it’s a mandatory piece of equipment. Way to try to kill me, ex-husband! []
  5. Also, it didn’t hurt that they were cute. I’m just sayin’ []


In Praise Of Safety Gear

Alternative title for this blog posting: I love my brain.

DSC_6163 by you.About 7 weeks ago, my hockey team’s goalie was knocked out of the season with a grade 2 concussion.   A few months ago my coworker’s father died after having hit his head on the ice during a hockey practice that he was coaching.  And just last week, actress Natasha Richardson died after hitting her head when she fell while skiing on a beginner’s hill.   And all of these incidents  were very fresh in my mind as the back of my head slammed to the ice during one of my hockey games on Sunday after being hit, after the whistle.  Since the hit came (did I mention?) after the whistle, I really wasn’t expecting it, so I wasn’t braced for it and I fell straight backwards, hitting the back on my head (within my helmet) smack on the ice.    I remember very clearly thinking: “oh my god! My head just hit the ice!  People die from that!”  I got off the ice and I felt ok, so I kept playing.  In retrospect, this was actually a dangerous thing to do since, as it turns out, I had a concussion.  If I’d gotten hit like that again, a second concussion would have been really, really bad, as getting a second concussion before a first concussion heals makes that second concussion way more severe that it would have been otherwise.  I didn’t really even realize I’d done anything all that bad until later that night, after I got home from my second game of the day, when I had a bit of a headache.  I went to work yesterday morning, but as soon as I started looking at the computer screen the headache got nasty. So I decided to be better safe than sorry and went to get checked out by my doctor.  And the doc said that I did, in fact, have a mild concussion.  I don’t have most of the really bad symptoms of concussion (such as blurred vision, nausea, memory loss) – just a headache, my balance is a bit off and I  seem to lose my training of thought a bit.  My brain isn’t swelling, so that’s a good thing, and the headache should go away (and my balance & train of thought should come back) over the next several days.  After that, I really shouldn’t have any lasting effects (unless I get more concussions – the effect of multiple concussions seems to be increased risk of things like dementia and Parkinson’s).  I’ve still got the headache, especially if I look at a computer screen (I’m actually typing this with a cloth over the screen so that I don’t have to look at it – I figure I can handle a few minutes to proofread it as long as I don’t also have to look at it while I type).

And really, I do just want to say that I love my brain, I don’t like not being able to think straight or get my work done, and I’ve very, very happy that I was wearing a good helmet when my head hit the ice.  I’m a big proponent of safety gear in sports – I wear a full face shield and a neck guard in addition to all the other safety gear that one wears to play hockey (yesterday my doctor told me about seeing a teenager who died playing hockey when he wasn’t wearing a neck guard, he was knocked down and someone skated right over his throat!) – and this just reaffirms my support of all things safety gear!