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Flashback: What happened to Dylan's arm?!

Ever wonder why Dylan Cunningham didn’t play most of the playoffs or nationals last year? Did you see him skate off the ice in a hurry, gripping his arm after a change over? Listen on to hear from him directly to get the story of how the injury could have ended his hockey career and how he recovered. You'll be surprised (and delighted!) how things turned out.

Side note: We are not professional interviewers; this is more of a recorded conversation. The transcript is below if you’re not able to listen or if you’d like a more organized approach.

Hannah: So Dylan, thank you very much for sitting with us. So we were watching the game. It was an away game, wasn't it?

Dylan: Yeah, we were in Gillette.

Hannah: You were in Gillette? Okay. So it was just a quick little snippet on Hockey TV, and then nothing as far as what happened. It looked like an accident. What happened? How did the contact happen in the first place?

Dylan: So, we were in Gillette for the first game of the playoffs. I was coming off the wall covering my guy, but I was a little late and ended up falling. One of our players was coming up to go to his guy. As we were crossing paths, I fell,and he just ended up stepping on me,

Hannah: Like a total fluke accident.

Dylan: Yeah, just an absolute accident.

Hannah: That’s what it looked like for us. But then what happened?

Leanna: We saw you grab your arm and immediately skated off.

Dylan: Immediately, I covered it up. I saw it. I looked down. I was like, oh, that's definitely not good. And so, first thing I did is I just immediately covered it, put pressure on it, and went to the bench. I was yelling like “I need the trainer, I need the trainer! I need to go!" And nobody really knew where the trainer was exactly at that time. He actually was right next to our bench, like ready to go. So, I started skating off the ice and then I heard, “The trainers right here, he's right here!” I was like, never mind. I don't need the trainer. I need to go to the hospital, but I ended up going back. The trainer had a couple rags and stuff that we put on top of it. He walked on the ice with me over to the door and got me into the locker room and stuff. Once we're in there, he was holding my arm, applying pressure with the rags and stuff. This surgeon, I can't remember her name, but she's like a big time surgeon that happened to be at the game. She came down from the stands. She was just a fan. She came down, held pressure, and then held my arm with the towels and stuff on it for probably 30 minutes until the ambulance got there.

Hannah: So, she was just there? Like in the stands?

Dylan: Yeah, she had just gotten back from a trip to Africa or something, too. She was just here for a hockey game.

Hannah: Wild! How did she know? From the video footage it was kind of hard to tell that that's what was going on, because you covered it so quickly. I call it strawberry slushy… There was no strawberry slushy anywhere to be found, right? So gross, I know right, but when they chip up the blood off the ice [it looks like a strawberry slushie]. It was hard to tell that you were injured; but that's a wicked [scar] and that's a really dangerous spot,too!

Dylan: They ended up telling me that it was less than a centimeter away from cutting my artery. And that would have been a big time problem.

Hannah: You could have bled out. Whoa, that's wild. So, then recovery. You go to the hospital. We assume they stitch you up or glue you closed, or whatever they do there.

Leanna: How many stitches did you end up with?

Dylan: I ended up with 55 stitches. Yeah, there were 45 internally, to put all the muscle and stuff back together, and then they had to repair a tendon. There were just 10 on the outside, to keep it together.

Leanna: Oh my gosh!

Hannah: That’s so much, that’s so wild.

Dylan: Luckily, the one's interior were dissolvable.

Leanna: But still, you probably had to do a lot of physical therapy.

Dylan: I went to three sessions at Peak and they just gave me a bunch of exercises and stuff to keep doing on my own.

Hannah: Peak is so good.

Dylan: And through our team, we get three free visits to Peak.

Dylan: They did a bunch of scraping and stuff to get rid of some of the scar tissue and gave me a bunch of exercises. They told me some stuff to order, to work on my forearm strength, and stuff after that to get the muscle back intact.

Hannah: The tendons, totally repaired? I mean, aside from a little bit of scar tissue and stuff, you have no loss of.. strength or anything?

Dylan: I don't think it's quite as strong as it used to be, but I mean, that'll come eventually. I think? Yeah, the only thing that I really have is no feeling anywhere through here. (points to the back of his hand)

Leanna: Oh, so you still have some nerve damage

Dylan: So, anywhere below the scar; down here, to all the way up here, to back my thumb. I can feel the whole front side of my hand, but I can't feel the back side of my thumb and I can't feel the backside of this finger up until about right here. (he points to 2nd knuckle on his left index finger)

Hannah: Oh, crazy. It’s just totally numb.

Dylan: All this, it's just totally numb down here.

Leanna: Well, on Hockey TV, we, you know, saw you skate off the ice, and then we didn’t hear anything.

Dylan: Yeah, you can’t really see anything, and, fortunately, you can't really hear what I was saying, either.

Hannah: Right, we should have had you mic’d up.

Dylan: (laughs) I don’t think very much of that would have been usable.

Leanna: Well, I bet your teammate was horrified.

Dylan: Yeah, I know a couple of guys were sitting there like, oh man, that was...

Leanna: That's bad.

Hannah: That was brutal.

Leanna: But, like you said, it could have been so much worse, but yeah, from our view watching it, we were like, “oh my gosh…!”

Hannah: Yeah. Then you were just gone, right? So, from the fan’s perspective that's where we're like, “Where's Dylan? We need all three Cunninghams on the ice, please, thank you. Then you were just like out and you know, the official channel is not gonna put that out there as much. I mean, we'll see it in your stats because you missed games and stuff but…

Leanna: We wanted to know how you were, and you did miss a couple games after.

Dylan: Yeah, I missed the rest of the playoffs and nationals.

Hannah: Oh my gosh, that sucks!

Leanna: Well, we're gonna make it again this year so you’ll have another chance.

Hannah: Are you right hand or left hand dominant?

Dylan: I'm right handed.

Hannah: So, it happening on your left arm is slightly better than, you know, I mean, preferably not at all but you know, it was just a fluke thing. You can't prevent it. You don't wear any armor on your forearms at all? It's just your sleeve and your...

Dylan: Our elbow pads cover right about there, and then our gloves come up. So yeah, it got caught right in the little gap in there.

Dylan: And like putting pressure on it can still mess with me. Like my old elbow pads that I was wearing when it happened, I can't wear those anymore, because they put too much pressure on it, and they make my hand go numb.

Hannah: Oh, interesting.

Dylan: Then there's certain times I'll like jam it, it'll tighten up and I can't move it for a couple seconds and stuff.

Leanna: So, it’s just some nerve stuff.

Dylan: Yeah, just some nerve damage.

Hannah: Well, keep going to Peak and they'll get that sorted out. I mean nerve stuff just takes a long time.

Dylan: They said there's not really a whole lot they can do for it. It's just kind of have to wait and hope that the nerves can reattach themselves.

Leanna: Well, we're glad that you're okay.

Hannah: Yeah, we're glad you're back on the ice this year!

Dylan: Yeah, I’m glad to be back.

Hannah: You’re one of the fan favorites. So, I mean, all the Cunninghams are, yeah, for sure there's a lot of like happy faces.

Leanna: So when you were gone, we're like “oh, no!”

Hannah: I think did we know for sure you're coming back when at the grey white game, I mean the blue and white game, sorry. And you were on the roster. Yeah, that was the first official time we were like “Yes! He's back!”

Dylan: I can’t really complain about playing in front of this crowd.

Leanna: I know, right!

Hannah: Helena is just… we have the best fans.

Leanna: Like whenever we watch Hockey TV and every time you guys were all squirter we're like, where’s the fans?

Hannah: Where’s the people? There's like 30 people even there. I mean, Gillette has a bit of a fan base, but I feel like, even they don't even compete.

Leanna: Like yeah, this place is insane.

Hannah: Well, if you look at the average attendance of Bighorn's games, we were like double or triple the next most attended game, it's pretty wild.

Dylan: The support we get here is amazing, it’s awesome.

Leanna: So we're like we're gonna start this channel so we can…

Hannah: Yeah. Because people hear that we will go watch hockey together so like, oh my gosh, did you hear about whatever? And they ask us and we're like, we don't know because there's nowhere to see it, nowhere to put it out there.

Leanna: So, we started this.

Hannah: Because I’m a web designer and she's got all the personality. She's got the guts and the personality to actually make it happen. And uh, yeah, here we are. Yeah, thank you.

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