Love Me or Hate Me – Part 3

NASHVILLE - SEPTEMBER 15: Josh Morrow of the Nashville Predators poses for a portrait on September 15, 2003 at Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by: Getty Images)

My name is Josh Morrow, welcome back for Part 3 of my story. I always thought my career was to be a professional hockey player where I could earn a good income and continue doing something I was good at. Truth is I was never one of those guys who loved the game. Sometimes when you have the talent and ability, you are pressured into doing what you are good at. I was drafted to the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League at 14. To this day it baffles me how an organization can basically own your child at that age. For all of you in the sports world you know exactly what I am talking about. I wouldn’t say Junior hockey was easy by any stretch. Traveling on dirty old buses for hours on end, the wear and tear on your body and the lost opportunity to enjoy being a kid were gone. We were always outcasts at school and all we really had was our teammates. I jumped the gun to play Junior A as a 15-year-old instead of playing my second year of Bantam and looking back, that was a big mistake. Not only was I playing against guys that were 5 years older but a good 40 or 50 lbs heavier than I was. There is a huge difference between a 15-year-old and a 20-year-old. Those are major development years which I found out the hard way when I dropped the gloves with one. The guys on the bench were asking me what the hell I was thinking. Long story short, I had 2 good shiners and a sore face. I guess that’s what happens when you mistakenly pick the toughest guy in the league to scrap with. My Western Hockey career was a rocky one. I could tell you stories that would make you cringe and really open your eyes to some of the realities we faced as young men in this sport. At 16 I was diagnosed with mononucleosis which lasted half the season and was so severe that the doctors couldn’t believe my spleen didn’t rupture walking down the stairs. A couple days after recovering from the illness, I took a skate blade straight across my face resulting in 52 stitches. What a welcome back gift that was!! Shortly after that I had a stick go through my lip and tore the bottom half of my nose off. If you have never experienced freezing needles inserted up your nostrils, and followed by stitches, then take my word and avoid it. The injuries to the body were tough but the face is a whole new world of pain. 17 was the only season where I didn’t have a setback. During my 18-year-old year right before playoffs I got wrapped up with another player and smashed into the boards breaking my ankle. Recovering from that and playing another half season, I ended up dislocating my shoulder at 19. This was the injury that ultimately ended my career. I went under the knife by a highly regarded surgeon; little did I know how bad things really were for me. I complained for months on end to hollow ears and my shoulder felt as if someone had filled it with rocks. The grinding, snapping, and cracking was unbearable. I continually went for help, but no one believed me, no one cared to listen. When the Doctor tells everyone surrounding you that it’s all in your head and nothing is wrong and to stop listening to your complaints, what hope in hell does someone have to argue that? The fans turn on you, your family turns on you, your teammates turn on you, and worst of all you turn on yourself. They would strap me down to a table and try stretching my tendons and muscles, but I would black out because the pain was horrific. Those screws protruding out of my joint channeling grooves in my bone was a feeling I can never forget. I didn’t find out the truth about my shoulder until I was at the Nashville Predators training camp. I was called into the doctor’s office and they sat me down and asked me very clearly if I ever thought about going to college? To which I replied “no why?” Their answer was you need to. They handed me an airline ticket for home and never spoke to me again. I had spent 14 years of my life working to get here and it all vanished within seconds. After getting home, no doctor wanted to remove the screws that were stripped and sticking out of my joint. Apparently, no one wanted to get involved because of the legalities. Eventually a doctor from the University of Alberta finally agreed to help. 6 years of continuous fighting with the insurance company eventually ended up at the Supreme Court of British Columbia. After all those years, the decision was finally made. The surgeon was found negligent and was guilty of medical malpractice. This doctor had to be exposed for what he did and how he handled himself. I wanted to prevent anyone else from going through what I did. Think about this for a moment. Only 1.6 percent of malpractice cases end in victory for the patient. Today I still suffer with no cartilage and a bone on bone shoulder that is extremely uncomfortable. There is no fixing or repairing the damage done. The hope is that at 55 I will get a shoulder replacement and live pain free for the remainder of life. My son will be 20 years old before I can throw a ball with him. Crazy to think about but that’s a fact. This tragedy was the point in life where I was at a serious crossroad. Do I give up, crawl into a hole, complain about what was done and spend my life drowning in the past? I’m sure you had childhood heroes, mine have always been cowboys and as they say, “you have three choices in life, give up, give in or give it all you’ve got”. Love me or hate me, you’ll want to follow me to Part 4 of next Thursday’s edition.