Colin Chaulk's pain tolerance and desire to play through almost anything is legendary, but last Saturday in Kalamazoo he almost pulled himself out of a game in the first period. The next day he couldn't get his skate on his right foot and play at all
This morning Chaulk, 32, underwent his third surgery since Monday for Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a severe since staph infection that is resistant to most penicillin.
Since training camp opened in October, Chaulk had a blister on his heel and usually covered it with anti-biotic cream, a band-aid and a pressure pad. He does not wear socks in his skates. Chaulk said he regularly checked with Komets trainer Shawn Dundon which eventually saved the situation from getting any more serious.
“There's nothing I could have done any different,” Chaulk said. “The only thing I could have done was stay off the ice until the blister was completely healed, but nobody does that. You just tape it up and play.”
Chaulk said he never had an open wound on his heel, but that the infection blew up in under 10 hours last weekend. He had his first surgery by Komets team doctor Greg Sassmannshausen of Fort Wayne Orthopaedics at 5 p.m., Monday to remove the abscess and wash the area. He went back Wednesday with a high fever and had another surgery Thursday morning after the infection came back.
Chaulk, whose wife Jillian is also a nurse, said he was lucky he had such medical personnel available.
“It could happen to anybody,” he said. “You could have a little cut on your hand or anything. Bacteria is living in our equipment, first of all. It's everywhere, and I was just unlucky.”
Dundon and equipment manager Mark Bradtmueller, both veterans of many years, are religious about keeping the Komets' locker room and training rooms immaculately clean.
“If you don't get on top of it right away, there can be lots of complications, but we got to this pretty early,” Chaulk said. “As long as this goes away and everybody keeps an eye on it, it will be OK. It's definitely something you don't mess around with.”
The center is out of the Komets' lineup indefinitely.