Back in November, our friend Zeb from Eyes On The Prize brought to our attention a story from Sweden about former Islanders captain Kenny Jonsson, who was experiencing some grave health problems after collapsing behind the bench while coaching a youth hockey tournament. At the time, doctors were unsure about what caused the infection and blood poisoning that had put him in intensive care and caused him to lose a great deal of weight.
After months of tests and treatments, Jonsson finally got an official diagnosis: Crohn's disease, a chronic gastrointestinal inflammation that affects 1.6 million Americans.
In an interview with daily newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad, Jonsson talks about the night he was rushed to the hospital, the surgery and the subsequent waiting for an answer (there's also a video for any Swedish speakers to enjoy). He says knowing it's Crohn's means he can finally receive proper medication and treatment, and resume his life and work again.
I am on the right track. I am getting more and more energetic and my strength is returning. But I still get tired and need a nap during the day. I will get a full recovery, but it will take some time.
Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect the small bowel, colon or any part of the gastrointestinal tract and can, to generalize greatly, make a person's ability to simply go to the bathroom a trying ordeal. It can also spread unevenly across the intestine and go into periods of remission before resurfacing.
That's why it's no surprise that Jonsson, who was a workhorse for the Islanders for nine years despite a series of injuries including concussions, never thought about taking a break when he was experiencing chronic stomachaches.
Kenny Jönsson is one of Sweden's greatest hockey players of all time. I ask him if his sporting psyche helped him during his ordeal.
"Both yes and no, I think. I have always been stubborn refusing to let things get to me. That was not to my advantage in this instance. I should have seen a doctor earlier. Still, maybe that stubbornness saved me."
Back on the road to normalcy again, Kenny's now focusing on the development of his son, Axel, who is a goalie on Sweden's Under-15 team. He's also heard from lots of old friends since his issues went public.
I got everything from flowers to presents sent to my home. Both from friends and people I don't know. And old hockey friends have given me great support through social media.
We hope word gets to Kenny that Islanders fans are glad he's better and are pulling for his continued recovery.