I am the founder of Payne Hockey Development Ltd. and I have Crohn’s Disease.  This blog series aims to spread awareness for Crohns and Colitis, 

The "invisible " disease

 This is my the beginning of my story


I am the founder of PH Development and I have Crohn’s Disease.  In my Senior year of NCAA hockey at Concordia College, a top private liberal arts Institution in Minnesota, U.S.A,  I started experiencing symptoms that began to affect my quality of life.  Rolling out of bed in the morning, keeping up with my studies, going to practises and games began to take a toll on my well being.  When my parents came to visit periodically throughout my 4 years of university, they would watch our Friday and Saturday homestand.  My father coming from a hockey background would discuss the games and provide feedback on my play as a father does.  He would often say when he came down to visit that my play from Friday to Saturday was night and day and would say it was like watching two different players.  My mother would say when I came home to visit for Christmas or when she would visit me at school, “You look thin.” “You have dark circles under your eyes.”   I would often shake it off and provide an excuse for my appearance to my mother and my play to my father.   In retrospect this was the first indication that something was wrong with my health.

My Hockey season had come to an abrupt halt as we had a heartbreaking loss in the conference semi finals.  I will always cherish those 4 years with my teammates and classmates.  There is a special bond that you develop amongst your university hockey colleagues which in my opinion is found no where else.  We practise and play together, eat together, go to school together and live together.  These friendships last a lifetime.  My bachelor education was coming to a close.  Senior year.  Graduation, celebrations, festivities.  Exciting times right?

The last few weeks of the school my mild flare ups over the last years had translated into extremely debilitating symptoms that I could not explain.  I frequently had trouble going to the bathroom, couldn’t stomach a meal and I was constantly fatigued while experiencing low energy levels. I remember barely being able to get up for a 12 pm class during the latter part of my spring semester.   I didn’t disclose any of my symptoms to anybody,  not my hockey team, parents or anybody for that matter.  I would often visit the school nurse , she prescribed me with laxatives ( terrible recommendation if you have an internal health condition) that would ease my bathroom troubles.

April is normally exam week at university which signals the end of the school year.   It was spring 2013. We were ready to graduate.  I remember being in the library studying for finals with a teammate and university colleague.  We were on the brink of completing our Bachelor degrees.  I remember looking across the table at my buddy and saying that something didn’t feel right.  I started getting dizzy and asked him if he could drive me to the hospital.  He drove me to the hospital . I had extreme pain in my abdomen and could barely walk at this point.  My body was telling me to slow down and to go get help!  My teammate stayed with me while they ran some tests. He waited with me for the results.  The doctors informed me that I needed to be admitted immediately and  that they had to perform an operation. There was fluid and bacteria in an area of my small intestine that was abnormal.

 Truth being told there was an infection and an underlying condition brewing in my body that would  not only put my hockey career in jeopardy but my life….

To be continued.

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is a non- profit charity foundation dedicated to finding cures for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis that affect the lives of children and adults.  Crohn’s and Colitis are both auto immune diseases which affect the large and small intestine.  The disease is extremely debilitating and is highly prevalent in children under the age of 10.


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