I’ve always known that I wanted to be a professional hockey player. Like most pro athletes, my dreams were clear at a young age. When I wasn’t watching hockey, I was playing on the outdoor rink or stick handling in the garage. My commitment to strengthening my skills was evident, and my family was always encouraging and supportive. It was my father’s work ethic and my mother’s passion that helped shape me. My brother’s talents and dedication as a musician allowed us to work towards our strengths together, simultaneously influencing each other’s dedication to their craft.
“In just one night after my freshman year, my whole dream—and what felt like my entire life—was almost ripped away.”Kevin Tansey
I started my hockey career in Atom, making my way through AA, AAA, getting drafted to the OHL, to Junior A, NCAA, and attending an NHL camp. This led me to attend Clarkson University where I played a productive Rookie season in Division 1 at the age of 18. In just one night after my freshman year, my whole dream—and what felt like my entire life—was almost ripped away.
On July 31st, I was assaulted with a blunt object while walking to my car. My skull cracked causing a brain bleed, three ribs broken, and a serious shoulder injury that required surgery. I was put in a medically induced coma for just under two days. The trauma to my brain permanently eliminated my sense of smell. For a few days, it wasn’t clear if I was going to pull through or not, and the three weeks that followed were a complete blur. I wasn’t myself for a while, and I lost 80 lbs due to my recovery time in bed. But as the fog began to clear I started to wonder, when can I play hockey again?
“This particular visit to the doctor is one of my most vivid memories. The doctor reviewed my files and told me that my career should be done and that he couldn’t clear me to play hockey again.”Kevin Tansey
I grew up knowing that becoming a professional hockey player was a difficult path. However, what I went through 10 years ago and how I dealt with it afterwards has proven to be the most challenging obstacle I’ve ever had to overcome. The stress that this incident put my body through was intense and significantly affected my mental health. I was prescribed oxycodone for the pain, and though I didn’t like how it made me feel foggy and detached, I couldn’t feel my broken bones. I tried to stay away from them as much as possible, but that soon changed as the reality of my diagnosis set in.
This particular visit to the doctor is one of my most vivid memories. The doctor reviewed my files and told me that my career should be done and that he couldn’t clear me to play hockey again. I stormed out of the hospital feeling more lost than I’d ever felt before. I wanted to escape, and the painkillers I was prescribed could help me do just that. Once I was playing again, I was taking them for every broken bone and blocked shot. I ignored all of the undesirable effects of the painkillers, including the toll they took on my relationships and mental health, to uphold my commitment to the sport.
“As I shifted into a new perspective, it shocked me to see how easily accessible painkillers are when you go pro.”Kevin Tansey
Fortunately for me, I had a support system. And because of them, I knew I needed to figure out a more healthy and sustainable way of living and dealing with my injuries. I made a promise to myself to figure it out. That’s when I was introduced to CBD, and what I experienced changed my life for the better. With the use of CBD, I could deal with the physical pain without having to numb my mind too. It changed the way I was able to recover and perform. It helped with bruises, sleep, muscle pain, and anxiety, so I could finally get back to being myself.
As I shifted into a new perspective, it shocked me to see how easily accessible painkillers are when you go pro. I understand they have their place for serious injuries, but it was wild to see what minor injuries they were prescribed for. The fact of the matter is that players want to get through their games–and I understand that. I’ve been there. I just don’t understand why there isn’t a more common and natural way to recover now that we have the science to back it.
“For the stress and sacrifice it takes to do what we do, there should be access to healthier ways to cope, like CBD. It’s time to change the way athletes are guided to recover.”Kevin Tansey
With the use of CBD, I was able to avoid going down that dark path again. I was able to overcome my dependency, and I’m thankful for it every single day and the family, friends, and coaches who helped along the way. Unfortunately, that isn’t the story for everyone. There is an incredible amount of pressure that comes with being a professional athlete. The travel, the training, the injuries, the distance from friends and family, missing weddings and birthdays–it all adds up. But if I had to do it all again, I would. It has always been about hockey and working relentlessly to fulfill my dreams.
For the stress and sacrifice it takes to do what we do, there should be access to healthier ways to cope, like CBD. We should be able to ask our team for help with pain management without having to worry about what it will do to our bodies and our lifestyle. We should have the choice to recover with natural products that don’t lead to dependency, because not every athlete is as lucky to overcome it as I was.