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In life, illness and injury are part of the game. Getting sick or hurt can happen to anyone — whether we’re playing contact sports, taking leisurely walks or just going about our daily lives. I’ve had my share of athletic injuries and also contracted Lyme disease in 2008. Here are strategies that have helped me through.

Be smart

If the injury is something that will worsen because you’re continuing to push it, that’s probably not a great idea. You can end up with something way worse.

I have awesome trainers and wonderful team doctors who tell me if I can push something or rest. I played with a broken nose this season. It’s fine, a little bit crooked. I hurt my knee during the 2018 playoffs and I played through it—the injury lasted the entire offseason. I still have pain. I probably pushed it when I shouldn’t have.

Keep your eye on the long game—a couple of weeks off for a lifetime of health can be worth it.

Eat right

It’s tried and true — you’ve got to eat healthy to stay healthy. The key for me has been stocking my kitchen with good, whole foods. If there are cookies around the house, I’ll snack on them, so I’ve learned not to keep them around. I’ll have an apple with peanut butter to satisfy my sweet and salty cravings.

Manage ongoing illness or disease

I was diagnosed with Lyme disease over a decade ago, and I’ve still been able to thrive as a professional athlete. There have been times when I’ve been too sick to play or practice but overall my health care team and I have found a protocol that works for me.

I encourage anyone who’s fighting an illness or disease to:

  • Stay positive and soak up ­­­­­­every moment that you do feel good.
  • Get the medical attention you need.
  • Be relentless about seeking out ways to improve your physical and mental well-being.

Participate on your health care team

I’ve learned to be an active partner on my health care team. I listen to my body and speak up when something doesn’t seem right. You don’t want anything to get severely worse, so the bottom line is to trust your instinct.

I have a solid proactive game plan for good health. When I’m not feeling 100% I’ve learned to keep positive – that my worst days are not my only days and there will be better ones.

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