Calgary Flames broadcaster Rick Ball says he’s doing alright.
But a recent pulmonary embolism suffered this summer — preceded by a broken leg — has the Sportsnet announcer counting his blessings as he’s been off the team’s regional TV broadcast since mid-October.
“It was pretty scary,” Ball said in a radio interview with Eric Francis this week on Sportsnet 960. “Thankfully I’m on the mend, but doctors figured it was a combination of a broken leg, and then we did some travelling, and two things that can lead to a blood clot are a broken bone and travelling. So put the two together and I wound up unconscious on the kitchen floor a couple weeks ago. Thank god my wife was home to call 911. Pretty scary. I can’t tell you how much gratitude I have for whoever was looking after me.”
Ball said he was “chasing a bird away” at a golf tournament in Kelowna this summer when his leg injury first occurred.
“It had gone to my golf cart stealing my sandwich. I’m running across the fairway, not paying attention to anything but this damn bird, and I stepped in a sprinkler hole and broke my fibula,” Ball said. “Of course, being the idiot that I am, I didn’t go to the doctor right away. I played three more rounds of golf. My leg is killing me. I come back to Calgary and I finally go see the doctor and he’s like ‘yeah, you broke your leg you moron… put this air cast on and come back in six weeks.'”
Ball took his air cast off before a trip to Vancouver Island and Arizona, where he “felt fine.”
“I flew back to Calgary. After that, a few days later I start to feel really fatigued. Listen, I”m not an Olympic decathlete but I try to take care of myself. Climbing up stairs is hard. You start wondering ‘do I have COVID?’ Who knows,” Ball added. “And then one day I’m standing in the kitchen thinking [to] myself ‘if it’s like this tomorrow, I’m going to the doctor,’ and the next thing I know I’m on the floor. The last thing I remember is thinking ‘oh shit, I’m going to pass out’ because I’m feeling really faint, and then the next thing I remember is my wife screaming and that kind of woke me up.”
Ball then recounted his ambulance trip to the other side of town.
“And then god bless the people that work in the medical profession. The EMTs came. Took me to a hospital. Wind up at the South Campus — probably the furthest hospital from where I live but they go wherever they have vacancies. So I went there. They were fantastic. First time I’ve ever spent time personally in a hospital my whole life, other than when I was born. Knock on wood. Hopefully, it’s the last.”
Ball again showed his gratitude to the medical workers.
“The people there were first class. I can’t say enough about how wonderful everybody is that worked there. I know that entire profession is doing the Lord’s work, for sure,” he said. “Spent a week there. They pumped me full of blood thinners. I was on strict bed rest for a few days. They don’t want you moving around. They found a blood clot in my leg on the same side where I broke my leg. They asked about travelling and injuries. I said ‘I broke my leg and then travelled’ and they said ‘there you go.'”
Ball added that the clot had moved into his lungs.
“I don’t want to get into too much about my medical issues but that’s what happened, and I’m really happy to be on the mend.”
Ball added he’s received hundreds of texts and emails from friends, colleagues, and Flames fans wishing him well.
“The support has been overwhelming,” Ball said. “It was really uplifting and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me to be able to hear from everybody. It really emphasized how important it is to touch base will people who are going through a problem like that. You might think you are bothering them. You’re not. It really meant a lot to hear from everybody.”
And while Ball’s not back to 100%, he says he’s “getting there” and wants to be back at Flames games soon.
“Way better than I was. I’m feeling better than I was feeling before it all got critical. I was so tired. I am on the mend, knock on wood. One thing I learned through all this is never be presumptuous. You just have to take it one day at a time. All the stupid cliches you hear people talk about… they’re cliches for a reason, because it’s true,” he added.
Ball plans to do Flames’ home games in the near future, while travel for road games is up in the air for the time being.
“Just thankful for every day and fingers crossed that I can get back at it because I love what I do. I love calling Flames games. I love doing hockey broadcasts. I love the people I work with. It’s not a job for me. It’s something I really enjoy doing.”
For now, though, it’s a bit more relaxation and further testing before he gets the all-clear.
“Sitting around and having to watch the games on TV and not being there was tough,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back at it, but health is priorities number one through 1000 right now. Until I feel like I’m 100% and good to go, I’m going to have to just be satisfied with watching the games on the tube.”