18. mixed messages.

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 It was one of our last games before Christmas break and it was not going well

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It was one of our last games before Christmas break and it was not going well. In fact, it was an outright disaster, plagued with missed passes, forgotten plays, and rookie errors.

We were down 0-2 at the start of the third period to a team that was one of the worst in the league. None of us could pull it together and no one could figure out what the problem was.

Well, I knew what my problem was. Thoughts of Ryan and the blog post had been eating away me. Not only did I still feel bad that it had happened, I was also concerned by how much it bothered me. Those boundaries we had talked about maintaining were growing increasingly fuzzy.

I hopped onto the ice as my shift started, skating towards our zone to get the puck out. Geoff passed it to me and I manouveured around one of the other team's defenseman before passing it to Axe. I turned to make my way across the blue line and momentarily, I wondered how Ryan was doing and why she hadn't come watch the game with Isabelle.

Axel passed the puck back to me in a nice, clean shot. My attention snapped back to the game, but it was a moment too late— before I realized that I had possession of the puck, #19 from the Tornadoes came out from nowhere and flattened me into the boards right by the opposing team's bench.

A sudden, brutal impact jolted me as a thunderclap of blinding pain shot down my right arm. Taking hits was a common occurrence and most of them weren't too bad, but this one was the perfect storm; my arm was crushed awkwardly between my body and the open half-wall.

I was definitely injured-- badly. I could already tell that I wouldn't be getting back on the ice again tonight.

The team trainer saw the whole thing happen and he waiting for me when I got to the bench. After a quick examination, his conclusion was as I'd expected; I had to sit out the remainder of the game. I was forced to watch helplessly from the bench as the rest of my team got hammered on, culminating in a pitiful loss. It was beyond frustrating.

My shoulder nagged at me the entire time I drove home, a constant reminder of my error on the ice. I hadn't realized how much I used my shoulder for something as innocuous as driving. By the time I got home, the pain was making it difficult to use my arm at all.

Desperately, I almost considered asking Ryan for help getting my gear out of the truck before I gave myself a mental slap. Man up.

After dragging my gear upstairs with one hand, I punched in the code and pushed the door open with my body. Please don't let Ryan be here to see this. I hobbled through the door, awkwardly tossing my hockey bag to the side with my good arm.

"Are you okay?" she asked in alarm, rushing over.

In truth, the pain was bad but I didn't want to show her that. For some reason, I felt kind of embarrassed that I'd been injured. I didn't want it to make me look weak.

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