Sports

The comeback kid

Trojan not held back by rare arthritis

SAIT Trojans women's hockey player Kali Jamieson relaxes before practice at SAIT in Calgary on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (Photo by Dawn Gibson/SAIT)

SAIT Trojans women’s hockey player Kali Jamieson relaxes before practice at SAIT in Calgary on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (Photo by Dawn Gibson/SAIT)

Kali Jamieson has Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes inflammation, swelling and pain in small joints.

This will be her first interrupted season in two years.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a rare condition for people under the age of thirty to develop.

“My will as an athlete has increased. I’m in my twenties; so, I’m not going to let it define my life,” said the 23-year-old Trojan.

Jamieson started skating at two years old in Major, Sask., and has been playing organized sports, especially hockey, ever since.

She remembers being one of the only kids on her hockey team who was able to raise the puck and flick it above ice level, a feeling that fuelled her love for the sport.

She is now in her fifth and final year playing with the SAIT Trojans women’s hockey team.

Jamieson plans on finishing strong with her teammates by clinching a championship win this season.

After having trouble re-cooperating from an injury a few years ago, Jamieson got the diagnosis that would change her life forever.

“I remember my first doctor’s appointment was so intimidating, and I wasn’t sure what questions to ask,” Jamieson said.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be passed on genetically, which is most likely the case for the young hockey player, since her mom was diagnosed with the same condition at age 16.

Jamieson’s relationship with her mom grew a lot stronger when she was diagnosed.

“She is the kind of person I can call for everything. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without my mom.”

The student athlete said her mom has been the core of her support system, not only by giving her advice and empathy, but also in dealing with all the paperwork behind insurance and doctors appointments.

Still to this day, the veteran Trojan can feel pain in every step she takes, but she doesn’t let it hold her back.

Being able to play on the Trojans has been one of the biggest accomplishments in Jamieson’s life.

Last year, she took half of the season off to get a type of surgery that isn’t commonly recommended to people as young as 23.

At one point, she even thought about hanging up her skates for good.

The forward said that her coach, Terry Larson, would hold a spot on the team if she made the decision to play.

“I wouldn’t be on the team without the support and encouragement of the teammates, coaches and family.”

If Jamieson wants to play her final year, she knows she will have to push through the physical pain, both on and off the ice.

Her medications have been helping immensely, but they don’t take the pain completely away.

“The amount of pain I get is more than I expected.

“It’s a bit disheartening to know that I went through surgery and didn’t get exactly what I was expecting.”

She tackles the pain moment by moment by re-enforcing to herself what she already knows, the pain will go away and the swelling will subside.

Just push through it.

Since not many girls play five years in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), this type of persistent mindset is probably what has kept Jamieson motivated these past few years to keep going.

“Going to the rink everyday, seeing the girls, knowing I get to play on the weekend, and of course, this year, having the opportunity to win the championship. That’s what keeps me going everyday,” the Saskatchewan native said.

When it comes to dealing with pain during games, she uses her best discretion for judgment.

“I have my days where it gets more sore and swollen, but the training staff at SAIT is great with helping me while still trusting in my ability as a player.”

When asked what she would tell other young people struggling with Rheumatoid arthritis, Jamieson said to seek help and to not be afraid to discuss it.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are solutions and everyone deals with it differently.

“Find a way to deal with it that works for you.”

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