There are some things that just take a long time to get through. And this winter and spring, our amazing defender #8 Erin Hall is dealing with two of them. The pandemic, and a back injury. We spoke with Erin this week to see how things were going for her in both those struggles, but our effervescent Erin has a lot more going on as well. So let’s check in with this awesome first year edition to our defense corps. Cetacean Nation began by asking how and where Erin was coping with the pandemic.
“I think it’s truly crazy! it’s certainly an adjustment from the everyday routine I’m used to! I am at home in Pembroke, Massachusetts, just kind of laying low, trying to get out each day. though. As it gets warmer, it’s nice to be able to get out and go for a walk.Just not being in the house all day is nice. Other than that, we’re just trying to get over that hump, waiting for the end to come when this thing will die down. It’s tough, but I think if we all do our part, it’ll end sooner than later.“
While we all have to find a way to cope with the pandemic, Erin as we mentioned, is dealing with another nasty situation. Her season was interrupted, then cut short by injury. We asked Erin about that injury, and what she she could tell us. She gave us this remarkably candid reply.
“The initial injury was in November, against the Riveters. I forget the exact date, but it was late November. I got kind of cross checked, hit from behind into the boards and right away, I knew. My back was just telling me, pain I’ve never had before. And so I got off the ice, talked to our doctor, and talked to Paul Fernandes our trainer. I tried to give it a go, and I think I finished the rest of that game. I think that may have been attributed to my adrenaline, it just kept pumping for me. So my plan was kind of to see how it was. And I think to a fault, I sort of downplay things. Like: Oh, it’s fine, But as I found out and the season kept going, I really wasn’t fine. But I think it’s ingrained in me as a hockey player, to kind of just put on the tough act, and keep playing. So that’s pretty much what I did. So I continued to,play here and there. I missed some games because I just couldn’t go. I wasn’t healthy enough, I wasn’t going to be able to play at my top speed,.so I missed a bit of time.Then I came back and played a few games and my last series was out in Minnesota. Which I think during the games, it was OK. But on the plane on the way home and then when we were driving home, it was just excruciating, the pain was awful.”
Erin continued “So finally I decided to go get it checked out and get all the imaging done, stuff like that. It turns out I had a fractured L5 in my back. So it was really tough. (L5 is the fifth lumbar spine vertebrae, so what Erin had was a broken back) Again, all I really want to do is play. So when that gets taken away, that’s a huge piece. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching hockey, but I don’t love watching my own team play, that’s just heart-breaking really. So to do that for a fair amount of time this season, that was tough for me. So that is pretty much of what happened with the injury. And I’m sure a lot of people were wondering why I was in and out, in and out. And that was because I was trying to make it work any way I could. We tried less minutes, and less of everything really. And it just came to a point, and we talked to the coaches about this too. Which is hard for me to understand, but putting my health first is important. And when we finally came around to it, you have to be smart about this kind of stuff. Which I don’t think hockey players are all the time, because they just love the game so much. But it was getting to the point where it effected every part of my life. So as disappointing as it is, I think in the long run, sitting out that last month or so is hopefully going to help me down the road.
Erin added "Somebody put it to me this way when I was going through it. They said: When you’re thirty or forty do want to be able to pick up your kid, you know, hold them and stuff? That’s the kind of thing I hat hits home, because yeah, ultimately I do want to do that. But the decision making process of being in the moment and wanting to play vs being able to,look at what the future will hold, that’s the real challenge. I definitely put forth a valiant effort trying to stay in, but ultimately, my back was not on the same page as I was:)
Cetacean Nation wondered what the rehab process is like for that type of injury, and Erin explained
“Rest is definitely a huge big part of it, which again, not the easiest thing for me:) I’m more of a daily runner type of person, but rest is a major part of it. Physical therapy, I’ve been doing that for quite a bit now. And we’re working on strengthening.Just core muscles and stuff that will eventually help my back get stronger. And it’s a long road, which I understand. Like we talked about, the back has a lot to do with everything, so it’s going to take a long time.”
At this point, Erin took a pause and said “I have to give a shout out to my doctors. The team of doctors and my physical therapist, because hey’ve been dealing with my antsyness. It’s always a question: WHEN CAN I RUN, WHEN CAN I SKATE, it’s always that stuff! So just a huge amount of gratitude goes to them, because they’ve been working diligently with me for so long. So I’m thankful they’re willing to deal with those questions on a weekly basis. During the season, Dr. Kowalsky (ONS Medical) our team doctor was really great, and the way they stay in touch with us as athletes is important. And postseason I worked with Dr. Cha, and he kind of put me in the right direction about what my rehab would look like. And he was very helpful and very knowledgeable. And my Physical Therapist Sam Kushner is just tremendous. I feel he is part of my family now, because I’ve seen him so much and for so long. It truly takes an army to get back into it after a serious injury, so I’m just really grateful. And then additionally, the support that my family has provided me, that is really what gets you through it I think. So it’s going to be a bit of a road for me, but I’m positive I’ll be A-OK at the end. So I’m hoping that the rinks are open, and I’m hoping early summer to get back on the ice and get back to my normal routine. Obviously I’m doing plenty of off I’ve stuff right now just to keep up my conditioning and strength as much as I can. But I would say that I would be looking to get back in the Ice in my skates by early summer.” Fins Up to that!
In her first interview with us (you can check that out here on the website) Erin told us about her plans to pursue a nursing career. And as you may have noticed on her social media or in our posts, Erin has been accepted into nursing school. We asked her for some more details on that, and offered that it was a remarkable time to be diving into that profession.
“I know, I know! It seems like I got the news, and then all of a sudden this whole pandemic thing came around. I’ve heard it from a few people now and they’re like: Are you sure you really want to do this? And I’m like: Yeah, you know what? It’s going to be really good for me. So, it’s scary for sure, but I think it’s ultimately really going to be good for me.”
Erin continued “So the program I got accepted to is actually an accelerated program, so I will have my RN in a matter of sixteen months, starting this September. So it’s going to be relatively intensive I think. But I believe the way the first semester works, is that you have classes three days a week, and then it changes from there. So I don’t know exactly the particulars yet, but I know the basic outline of what will happen. And like I said, sixteen months from now I will be a Registered Nurse. Which is kind of crazy to think about, but it’s the program that I really, really wanted to get into. So that I could get to work sooner and start helping people sooner, rather than a more traditional four year kind of program. So I’m excited!”
Cetacean Nation thinks nurses are everyday heroes in normal times, and especially so now, and we salute Erin for that. Perhaps it’s that hockey type mentality that nurses have too. Erin agreed and laughed “That kind of run into the fire, kind of just full speed ahead, bravery and everything”