Solar Bears defenseman managing Crohn’s disease amid spread of COVID-19

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Solar Bears’ season ended two months ago when the ECHL shut down. Players have gone their separate ways for an extra-long offseason. Like the rest of us, they’re dealing with the anxieties that go along with the coronavirus pandemic. One player has a little more to deal with.

On the surface, defenseman Rich Boyd looks the part of a big, strong professional athlete. Underneath, the 24-year-old has a weakened immune system, compromised by Crohn’s disease. It’s a digestive condition Boyd has managed since his early teens. He’s managed it so well, it has never interfered with hockey.

“Knowing what my body can and can’t take, whether it’s food, stress, nerves, and stuff like that,” said Boyd, “I know what triggers my flare-ups.”

Because of the coronavirus concerns, managing and coping with Crohn’s disease is more challenging. 

"The drug I'm on, I take for my Crohn's, lowers my immune system, so, y'know, that was the first thing that kinda struck my mind was like 'ok, if I get this, am I dead?' That was the first thing that came into mind for me," revealed the Florida native.

After learning more about coronavirus, Boyd had taken his precautionary steps to another level. He's always washing his hands, washing his groceries, wearing a mask, avoiding public places, and more. His greatest challenge, however, is getting the medicine he needs.

"With Crohn's, those infusions are kinda what keeps you going and, for me, in particular, it's like my body knows five weeks and six days is when I start to feel a little groggy."

Boyd went to Massachusetts weeks ago for training, just as ice rinks closed down. He'll have to fly down to his Florida doctor for his latest infusion. He says he's prepared to take the flight. He is missing one therapy though: hockey.

“And that’s kinda my escape,” said Boyd, “My head’s only on one thing and that’s hockey and that kinda puts everything else to rest for me.”

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