Sporting KC

Jimmy Nielsen back at Sporting practice after meningitis bout

Updated: 2013-08-02T00:19:10Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

Two days after leaving the hospital following a second bout with meningitis in two years, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen couldn’t wait to get back to training despite the club and his teammates urging him to stay home to rest and recuperate.

“This is my life,” Nielsen said. “This is what I live for. This is what makes me happy and I want to be out here. There were a lot of guys who had to tell me (to stay home Wednesday), so I just ended up going out there, watched 10 minutes and then left.”

By Thursday, Nielsen could no longer be talked out of training and was a full participant less than 72 hours after an overnight hospital stay.

“The most important (thing) in my life is my kids and my wife, of course,” Nielsen said. “After that, it’s soccer.”

Nielsen began to feel ill Saturday in Montreal, where Sporting KC was in town for a showdown with the Impact in a top-of-the-table Eastern Conference clash.

“I woke up Saturday morning in Montreal and thought I had one of my usual migraines,” said Nielsen, who has suffered roughly three migraines a month since his first bout with meningitis in June 2011. “I went to the trainer and got a shot, but it didn’t really work.”

Nielsen went about his usual game-day routine then got another shot before the game, which he said finally took the edge off the pain.

A third injection commonly prescribed for migraines was required after the game and Nielsen had trouble sleeping Saturday night.

“I slept for 10 minutes, woke up for 30 minutes, slept 10 minutes,” Nielsen said. “I had a nightmare night.”

By Sunday during a layover in Chicago as Sporting KC returned from Canada, Nielsen realized he was probably dealing with meningitis rather than a migraine.

“I was struggling big time,” said Nielsen, who said he went to the doctor upon arriving back in Kansas City and had a spinal tap that confirmed the recurrence of meningitis.

He was admitted to the hospital Sunday night for observation and a course of medication was administered intravenously. Nielsen returned home Monday.

“I talked to the doctor and he didn’t know anyone who’d had meningitis twice,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen’s meningitis — a infection with various causes that enflames the protective membrane around the brain and spinal cord — was viral, which is serious but rarely fatal. Bacterial meningitis is more severe and life-threatening.

Nielsen never considered scratching from the 1-0 loss at Stade Saputo.

“The adrenaline made me forget about the headache,” Nielsen said. “The best medicine you can give me is to throw a ball and get out there. I didn’t really feel bad in the game. It was just a normal headache, nothing crazy.”

Nielsen doesn’t intend to miss Sporting KC’s next match at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park either.

“I’m good,” Nielsen said. “I’ll play.”

Zusi questionable

For the second straight year, a Sporting KC player was injured during the MLS All-Star Game.

Last year, centerback Aurelien Collin broke bones in his face during the exhibition against Chelsea.

On Wednesday at Sporting Park, midfielder Graham Zusi exited in the 24th minute because of a right quad strain, which might force him to the bench Saturday.

“It definitely tightened up and kind of balled up,” Zusi said. “We’re kind of going day-to-day and we’ll see if I can be ready.”

Zusi was going to be re-evaluated Friday before a decision is made, but Sporting KC historically has been cautious about players returning from muscle injuries.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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