Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hockey is the Best Medicine

[Note: A professor suggested that I write an article detailing how hockey is a distraction for me...I decided to share the finished product here]

Hockey is the Best Medicine
-Jillian Murphy

May 4th, 2011. The day my passion for hockey was ignited. It was the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Boston Bruins were getting ready to square off against the Philadelphia Flyers in Boston for Game 3 of a best of 7. They were up 2-0 in the series after eliminating their hated rival, the Montreal Canadiens, in 7 games in the first round.

I happened to be in Boston with my dad, preparing for yet another surgery at Boston Children's. I was to undergo reconstructive shoulder surgery in a few days as a result of a genetic connective tissue disorder, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). It had been a rough year, with 4 major surgeries to stabilize various joints from frequent dislocations.

As my dad and I walked into the lobby of the hotel in Coolidge Corner, my dad (jokingly) asked the attendant to let him know if anyone was selling tickets. Little did he know that within 10 minutes of getting to our room, I would have 2 tickets for that very same game. An hour later we were in the cab on the way to the Garden.

The atmosphere around the Garden was electric, though that is hardly surprising. It is a hockey town after all and the city was buzzing. Boston hadn't won the Stanley Cup in 39 years, and the fans were hoping for a deep run at the greatest trophy in all of sports.

We found our seats and I waited anxiously for the puck to drop. I didn't have to wait long for the Garden to come alive. It changed me.

Chara. Bomb. 1-0 Bruins 30 seconds into the game. I had never heard one building erupt like that. Just 33 seconds later, Krejci on a feed from Lucic. 2-0 Bruins. From that point on, hockey would become my biggest passion. I haven't missed a game since.

The Bruins would go on to lift Lord Stanley and bring the Cup back Boston. I was also in Boston for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, as I had a follow-up appointment after surgery. What an incredibly special time it was to be in such an amazing city amongst the greatest hockey fans in the world.

Living with chronic illness is all about adapting and finding different ways to cope and manage the pain. I, for one, do not take narcotic pain medications and with frequent joint dislocations, pain is something I am very familiar with.

I have come to find that there is no greater distraction than hockey. It is simply the best medicine; stronger than the most potent pain medications, and more effective than anything my doctors have to offer.

For 60 minutes, I forget all about my dislocations and the subsequent joint pain, the headaches from Chiari Malformation, and the intense burning sensation in my legs from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Instead, I become immersed in the game. I track the players’ stats throughout the game, and connect via Twitter with the passionate fan base of the Boston Bruins. Together, we celebrate the triumphs and lament on the losses. But regardless of the outcome, I always look forward to the next game, the next 60 minutes where I will feel no pain and become consumed by a passion I never knew existed, but one that I could not live without. I could not imagine my life without this team and this sport; it would be far too painful.

2011 Stanley Cup Champions
Boston Bruins


  1. Jillian, I didn't really know what fueled your passion for hockey! It all makes total sense. I wish they played all year long, but I'm thinking keeping track of all the happenings in hockey helps too. I'm so glad you wrote this article and also that you found something that mitigates your pain. Love you so much! Mimi

  2. Hi Jill - I am so glad you wrote this article as well. You are an incredible inspiration to me and to many others with your attitude for dealing with pain. We love you more than words can say and can't wait to see you next. Of course, if the Bruins meet the Rangers in the playoffs .... Love, Kevin, April & Anna Jane