Teen athlete warns of health risks following illness

A hockey player is warning others of the risks of pushing too hard through a cold or flu after a virus infected the tissue around his heart.

A rep hockey player is warning others of the risks of pushing too hard through a cold or flu after a virus infected the tissue around his heart and caused the teen to spend four days in the Intensive Care Unit.

“If I had left it, it could have been much worse,” said Mitchell LaBossiere, a Grade 12 student at Lake City Secondary School.

“I’m lucky.”

LaBossiere said he had been fighting a cold for a few weeks but was still practicing on the ice and hitting the gym hard with his Midget Rep team for the upcoming playoff season. He was also adding on additional fitness training himself to prepare for a fire fighting fitness test in the spring to gain summer work and was studying for exams in school.

“I didn’t give my body a chance to recover,” said LaBossiere, who was at home one evening last week when he started to experience a pain in his shoulder that moved into his chest, radiated to his back and then moved down his left arm — all in the matter of a half hour.

“I just assumed I was still sick,” he said of his initial reaction to the pain.

Fortunately for the teen his parents, themselves a doctor and a nurse, felt something was amiss and took their son to Cariboo Memorial Hospital where an abnormal test result prompted on-call emergency room Dr. Rhondy Klepsch to send the youth by ambulance to Kamloops to see a cardiologist.

By that time, LaBossiere said his symptoms had faded.

“We were all in disbelief. I felt 100 per cent at that point so it was a shock when I was sent to Kamloops.”

Fourty-eight hours later an MRI confirmed LaBossiere had perimyocarditis — an infection in the tissue surrounding the heart – something very rare to have happen to a young person and is potentially life threatening.

LaBossiere was prescribed anti-inflammatories, and given strict orders to rest and not exercise at all for three months followed an additional six months without competitive sports.

Had the teen ignored his symptoms and gone to his hockey game as he had planned, the outcome could have been far worse.

“The cardiologist said if I had left it I could have had permanent damage to my heart.”

LaBossiere is sharing his experience in hopes of helping others.

“Watch for the signs – pain in the chest and down the left arm,” he said. “Definitely if you’re worried about it go to the hospital.”

His mom Karen said she is extremely grateful to Dr. Klepsch for catching the difficult diagnosis. She also encouraged her son to share his experience.

“If it would save one person, it’s worth it.”