How could this have been overlooked?

Yesterday it was revealed that Sidney Crosby’s brain wasn’t just injured – the Pittsburgh Penguins captain had also sustained fractures of the C1 and C2 vertebrae.

Translation: the top two bones in his spinal column were broken.


Which left everyone asking last night – on the eve of the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa – “how did this happen? Or, better yet, how was this overlooked?”

Because doctors and medical staff may have been so focused on treating one thing – concussions and their lingering symptoms, which had sidelined Crosby for all but a handful of games in a span of more than 55 weeks – that something else that potentially contributed to the problem may have been largely ignored.

Of course, now the world waits for Crosby’s medical team and the Penguins’ medical team to elaborate on this. Or spin it. But that’s another story.

What got us to this point isn’t just a commentary on Sidney Crosby’s health. It’s a reflection of what is happening in medicine and in the treatment of patients right now. Our medical system – its doctors, its insurers, its institutions, its ethics – is under attack and under scrutiny. Who is feeling the trickle-down effect of this? Patients.

I was fortunate to see my husband go through a day-long battery of hospital tests after a recent fainting spell … and a litany of follow-up care to figure out what exactly the problem was. The treatement wasn’t so much efficient as it was thorough.

Yet twice in the past year I’ve had friends who have gone through medical problems, whose symptoms have been misdiagnosed by doctors and re-diagnosed by specialists, resulting in further problems and headaches, literally and figuratively.

In the haste to isolate one problem, another problem was ignored. A problem that could be far more serious. Which brings up the holistic aspect of medicine, one that comes with a certain level of institutional ignorance. When I say “holistic,” I mean it not in the sense of herbs and organic goodness and Whole Foods but in the all encompassing sense: look at the whole and not just the parts.

Do we attribute isolating one medical problem instead of looking at everything to the fact that doctors may be overwhelmed? Do we attribute the lack of this to rising health care costs? To HMOs that hamstring its clients? To the politics that surround medicine?

Or, in a sense, to ignorance?

How many of you have gone to the doctor for one problem, had it diagnosed as one issue … but then a whole new crop of problems arise? Or the problem persists, despite diagnosis, analysis and treatment?

Why has it happened? Is it cultural? We live in a quick-fix society. We’ve got too many other things to do besides worrying about a twisted ankle or a splitting headache, so we seek a form of rapid relief. Some are more willing to oblige than to say, “hey, look, we might want to examine everything instead of just what your one issue is.” Or maybe we demand too much of our doctors. Even I’ll admit that I begged a doctor to give me antibiotics when I couldn’t shake a sinus infection before a weekend of work.

But if you don’t feel like something is right, ask for accountability from your doctor or medical professional. Ask him or her if there’s something else that could be affecting you. Do some research on what’s bothering you and ask the doctor, could it be this? What do you think? Seek a second opinion. Or a third.

Don’t have it get worse and ask yourself, “how could this have been overlooked?”


Consider the principle

I get it, Tim Thomas. And not just because I once volunteered with your charity.

I get it because you stood for your principles. Politics, they are a funny and polarizing entity.

From Tim Thomas’ Facebook page:

“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.
“This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

“Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

“This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT”

I can see why you stuck to your beliefs and principles and decided not to go to the White House with your teammates, to be honored by President Obama for winning the Stanley Cup.

Still, the decision not to join the Boston Bruins at the White House today is reflective of some of the decisions we make every day. Its a macro-micro thing.

Think about it: some of the decisions we make are based on our personal principles. We may not go to a party because the host is a sexist pig. Why should I put myself in an environment that will make me uncomfortable? Or we may turn down an offering from a person who lied to us, a person whom we once trusted. Why should I satisfy you when you hurt me and deceived me?

As for Tim Thomas’ decision to take a stand, on the principle that visiting the White House didn’t align with his personal politics?

I’m not endorsing it, condoning it or decrying it … but, as Chris Rock once said, “I understand.”

How will Joe Paterno be remembered?

Joe Paterno died Sunday morning, and he left the world after a span of less than three months in which we witnessed his downfall, the scandal that rocked the Penn State community and Paterno’s rapidly failing health.

His death, as does any, leaves us with questions. While he was not a mystery, his final days were shrouded. In an interview that ran last week in the Washington Post, he admitted this much:

But after 61 years on the campus, Paterno cleared out his office in the space of one day. It was an end he was unprepared for. Yet it came with the realization that as the face of the university, people assign him greater responsibility than other officials.

“Whether it’s fair I don’t know, but they do it,” he said. “You would think I ran the show here.”

Will his abbreviated final season at Penn State – a result of the child abuse sex scandal that centers on former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, and all of the deception involved in the scandal – mar his legacy?

Was what he told Sally Jenkins the truth? Was he blissfully unaware? Did he have too many other things to worry about than handling something himself? Or did he not know the whole truth and not know exactly what to do when approached by Mike McQueary with information regarding a heinous crime?

Joe Paterno was not a martyr. And he was not a victim. But he was culpable in his own role of the fall of Penn State football, because he had the power to stop the sexual abuse of children at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. He had the power to cement his role – and his worth – as one of the greatest college coaches … but he chose to pass the buck.

For the time being, this may be how we remember Joe Paterno. It’s still fresh in our minds.

And at the same time, he was a certain legend in college football, an innovator, a traditionalist, a winner and a leader with standards. Sometimes, you wondered if Joe Paterno was bigger than Penn State itself.

He was ceremoniously taken away from football, from the routine he followed every weekend for more than 60 years. Did he ultimately die of a broken heart? Or was his health – he died of lung cancer, and suffered a broken hip in his final three months of life –  secondary to what meant so much to him?

How will we choose to remember Joe Paterno? As a college football pioneer? Or as an enabler?

Are you going to consider the standard he set?

Will you take a few minutes give him and his family some dignity? Or will you immediately spit on his grave?

What’s this SOPA all about, anyways?

Thank you,, for this great graphic. (please don't shut me down)

In the past few days we’ve been bombarded with messages regarding SOPA and today, some of our favorite sites have been blocked. Big, black boxes are covering content and keeping us from obtaining something. Information. Some of our favorite Websites are taking a stand against SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act.

And while the idea that is SOPA seems effective in theory, it’s not. It’s not a form of preserving originality. It’s another form of the government and big businesses attempting to assert control of information. If it looks like it’s been lifted, we’re taking it back.

This footage of Mario Lemieux’s goal in the 1992 Stanley Cup Final that you’re watching on your lunch break? Or watching, instead of coming up with new ideas?

It’s embedded on someone else’s blog. And taken from YouTube. Under SOPA, the government would believe that ultimately, that footage doesn’t belong to you. So they’re blocking your access to it. Heck, and as today’s story on states, even YouTube, which hosts that footage, could be subject to SOPA. Because technically, that footage does not belong to them. also has a bullet-point summary of what SOPA (and PIPA) is and how it could affect the audience on its homepage.

It’s all hypothetical at this point, and who knows what the future of SOPA holds. Or, after this day of awareness, if it has a legitimate future. But all those black boxes you’re seeing today on some of your favorite sites? They’re making you aware of the issue that confronts us.

So, basically, if this were to come to fruition, the government would have the right to effectively block your domain – and your work. It’s something that could even affect legacy media – many of those institutions are using video, screengrabs, photos and logos in digital media initiatives.

This counters one of the principles our country was founded on and has thrived on – the free exchange of ideas. While SOPA could encourage us to think original thoughts and create original content (um, isn’t that what we should be doing?), in a way, it keeps us from doing that. Consider that new ideas and influences are the birth of previous notions.

How would we effectively access ideas – and information – if our government was, ultimately, controlling our messages?

Did the Wizards win last night?

It’s so simple yet so succinct. So large, yet so minimalist. And in the end, you get the answer you were searching for. Without frills, without unnecessary analysis. Without clutter.

Go ahead, my friends in the DMV, ask the question: Did the Wizards win last night?

Or, better yet,

Click on it. You’ll get your answer.

One of my favorite television shows from the mid-1990s, “Boston Common,” once said that “the key to good communication is brevity.”

This site hits it on the head.

(Thank you, @dcsportsbog)

I still want to call them the Bullets.


Stacked. Dustin Penner, beware.

Dustin Penner. You hurt your back eating pancakes? No, reaching for pancakes?  I’m not about to make fat jokes, because it’s crass and hurtful, … but for an NHL player who has historically struggled with weight and conditioning issues, this will not look good on your resume.

But when it comes to unusual injuries, I cannot wait to hear the trash-talking that emerges from this instance. Somewhere, Rick DiPietro is laughing in the team doctor’s office.

Yet, consider that strange sports injuries have happened before. Others can relate:

  • Brent Sopel, who injured his back while picking up his daughter at home.
  • Glenn Healy, who cut himself while cleaning bagpipes. (Did not know he played bagpipes, but you can watch video on YouTube.)
  • Kevin Mitchell, who strained rib muscles as a result of vomiting.
  • Sammy Sosa, who suffered back spasms after a violent sneezing episode.

On some strange level, I can relate.

Nine years ago, while laughing hysterically in my chair at work, I felt a sudden, stabbing pain in the middle of my lower back, right below my waistline. I thought the pain would go away with a yoga session and some heating pads. No. It stayed for the next two days, until I finally took myself to the urgent care clinic and was diagnosed with a muscle strain. Or muscle strains. Whatever it was, it hurt to walk. Or sit. Or sleep.

For the next three days, I was home on my back. On muscle relaxers. Watching too much bad daytime television. Quickly going out of my mind.

It will get better, trust me. Just follow the doctor’s orders and go easy on the muscle relaxers.

But pancakes? Come on, Dustin Penner. I really thought you were an eggs Benedict kind of guy.

Mob Wives, you have drawn me in

I first met you all on a one-hour flight, thanks to the perks of technology. Then we got better acquainted in my living room, downing diet cokes and popcorn. I even considered taking you out to the balcony – another perk of technology – but then I saw last season’s finale and figured we’d keep our weekly get-togethers in-house.

Now, you are my weekly therapy. My release. My drama. Renee, Drita, Karen, Carla, Ramona and Big Ang, your bloodlines, handbags, confrontations and Staten Island chic are part of my post-Sunday dinner routine.

Granted, I’m gonna take some flack for falling for you ladies. As Italian-Americans, we find we’re not portrayed or treated in the best light. Even Meadow Soprano said it, to a certain degree. (Hell, I had a former coworker tell me that all Italians were “pasta eaters.”)

And I’ll admit, Mob Wives isn’t necessarily an accurate description of Italian-American women – I’ve known more than enough, including a few who belie the stereotype that the Mob Wives are portraying. A few who have adopted it. A few who have been embarrassed by it. A few who have owned it, without exploiting it. Some of them are my best friends and family members, too.

And it’s probably not even the best representation of “the mob.” (Or, as one of the Mob Wives once asked … “what mob?”)

But in a way, your personalities – and sometimes your behavior, save for that whole plate-throwing incident at Renee’s birthday party – encapsulate some of the things we want to be, or some of the things we want our daughters and sisters and best girlfriends to be.

Tough. Fearless. Feared. Respected. There’s a certain diva machismo to the Mob Wives, one that, historically, has been assigned to their male counterparts.

“I’m just going to carry a wrench with me next time because I don’t even want to get my hands dirty.” – Drita

The Mob Wives, they tell it like it is. They talk behind their backs. Then they say it to each other’s faces. They stand behind their man. Until their man goes behind their back. Then, they stand up to him.

And we want to be friends with these women, because they’ll either have our back or stab us in the back with one of their thigh-high stainless steel stiletto boots. No, actually, they’d come at us from the front.

And in a way, I’m starting to get this whole Real Housewives phenomenon – one that, in all its Buckhead, Short Hills and Upper East Side iterations, I have avoided like a man in a dark suit, carrying a violin case. A man whom I might be related to.

Yet I don’t think Camille Grammer would be able to properly swing a wrench. That’s one of the reasons why I keep coming back to these Mob Wives.

Just a hypothetical question …

Strictly hypothetical …

What if newspapers, for one day, shut down or didn’t update their websites? Would it force readers to seek out other ways to get their news – especially local news? – or would people actually go out and buy a paper?

My former employer’s website crashed/got hacked a few years ago, and a coworker walked around waving that day’s edition of the paper – information that, obviously, could not be obtained via the Internet.

“See this?” he asked as he waved it in the middle of our department. “This never crashes!”

A new coverage conundrum

With expansion … comes limitations. That’s becoming evident in the changing geography of college hockey.

After last summer’s conference realignments – the founding of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the imminent end of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, the naissance of the Big Ten Hockey Conference, the expansion of Hockey East – it helped the sport create a stronger geographic reach. But more geography brings more travel … which, in all likelihood, will hinder newspaper coverage of a handful of college hockey teams by a handful of local newspapers. Because it costs money to travel. And in the world of newspapers, which is pinching more and more pennies, it’s difficult for some editors to justify traveling to a college town when reporters are better used on local assignments or doing desk work on a weekend.

Several newspapers have already slashed their travel budgets – even my former employer didn’t send a reporter to Maine hockey’s away games during the first three months of the season – yet consider that the University of Maine, in Orono, is 140 miles from the newsroom. Still, one thing that’s worked in Hockey East’s favor for so long? Proximity. From its most central location in Boston, road trips are a maximum five hours (barring weather/highway conditions), either to Orono, Maine, or Burlington, Vt. That will change when Notre Dame joins the league in the fall of 2013.


With today’s announcement naming Jim Scherr as the new commissioner of the NCHC – which starts play in the fall of 2013 – it also drew some speculation as to what local newspapers who cover each of the league’s eight teams will do. How they will strategize in the future to cover these teams on the road.

But it also exhibited the collision of an area of growth and the continuous shrinking of budgets in newspapers. With the debut of the NCHC, it means that fewer smaller papers will be able to adequately and properly cover their local programs. Because it costs a lot of money to travel from Duluth, Minnesota, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, or Oxford, Ohio, to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

In an exchange Wednesday on Twitter, a pair of college hockey beat writers – whose schools will join the NCHC – discussed what all these changes might mean to the future of their beat:

What solutions do newspapers – who may not be able to afford to send their reporters to properly and adequately cover teams – have in order to communicate and to deliver the message in this arena?

Editors can establish and/or maintain a network of freelancers across the country (shameless self-promotion: hey, I’m good for the money if anyone needs coverage of Maine hockey. Or Portland’s AHL team). Because there’s still a need for readable, editable and timely copy.

Or reporters can stay in the office and rely on technology – watch a webcast and make a post-game phone call for interviews, which is what’s happening at a few newspapers already – and as you and I know, technology may not always be reliable.

It’s a conundrum, and it’s indicative of what’s happening at newspapers, and not just in the sports departments. Less resources for more things to cover.