Breakfast of champions?Lindstrom overcame bacterial infection to earn second straight volleyball player of the year honor
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Jessica Lindstrom has played three sports every year for the Superior Spartans since she was a freshman. She’s taken some hard hits during that time, but she’s never been forced to the sidelines.
That changed this volleyball season when the Superior High School junior fell ill and spent two weeks watching her teammates from a couch at home.
“I had a bacterial infection in my stomach,” Lindstrom said. “It was really bad. It was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever been through.”
Despite her illness, Lindstrom led the Spartans again this year on both sides of the volleyball court. She was named to the Lake Superior Conference all-conference first team and led Superior in both kills and blocks.
She finished with 209 total kills at middle hitter, averaging about 3.7 per game.
“Jessica is our go-to player for points, but she is equally as good on the defensive side of the ball,” said Mike Patenaude, Superior head coach.
Lindstrom’s numbers actually improved on defense this season. She finished with 113 total blocks, nearly double her number from the 2011 season.
That came “despite being sick and not able to play for three weeks,” Patenaude said.
“I didn’t even realize until one of my teammates said, ‘You’re one of the leading blockers (in the area),’” Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom also didn’t realize the severity of her stomach condition until late in the season.
The first symptoms came as a bad stomachache. She shrugged it off and kept playing, but the pain didn’t go away.
During the Spartans’ Oct. 2 match with Duluth Denfeld, the pain finally became so severe that Lindstrom had to leave the game.
“It was terrible. I was so embarrassed and I was so sad,” Lindstrom said.
Her teammates sent her a “get well soon” card, but it would be three weeks before Lindstrom was able to play again.
Doctors diagnosed her with an H. pylori infection, which can damage the stomach lining and cause ulcers. The H. pylori bacteria is present in about half the earth’s population, according to the Mayo Clinic website, but very few individuals experience symptoms.
Lindstrom was laid up for weeks. She missed 11 days of school and nearly a third of the volleyball season.
“It was hard, knowing I couldn’t do anything,” Lindstrom said. She watched every match at home online on iFan and texted her teammates beforehand to wish them luck.
Mentally and physically, Lindstrom said the three weeks she spent away from volleyball were a struggle. She had an endoscopy to check for stomach ulcers and was relieved when the test came back negative, but doctors told Lindstrom her stomach was inflamed.
She lost nine pounds as her treatment was adjusted and she took antibiotics four times a day to fight off the bacterial infection.
“There were like six pills before I would eat breakfast in the morning,” Lindstrom said. “It was unreal.”
But Lindstrom’s treatment was effective, and she returned to play in Superior’s opening round playoff game against Stevens Point Oct. 18. The junior had 19 kill in the match, but the Spartans lost 3-1.
Lindstrom is now looking ahead to next year. She hopes to play the whole season free of illness and injury, but if she does have to face adversity again she’s ready to face it head on.
“I have no fear of anything medical anymore,” Lindstrom said. “I almost want to go into the medical field now just because it seemed interesting to me.”