VANCOUVER — Mattias Ritola will get an injection Monday in his right ear.
That is the next step for the Lightning forward in the hope of at least making manageable his Meniere's disease, which has left him with dizziness, ringing and pain and is threatening his career and, he fears, his hearing.
"That's the scariest part," said Ritola, already deaf in his left ear, caused, he said, by several infections as a baby. "You're deaf in one ear, you don't want to be deaf in the other. I've got to do everything I can to get it better."
Ritola, 23, has dealt with the disease for at least six weeks. It is exacerbated by plane travel, especially pressure changes during decent, he said. It has been lessened by medication. He no longer has attacks that knock him off his feet. "But we have to get rid of the sound and the dizzy,"
Ritola has missed four of the past six games because of the condition and considered leaving the team. But a meeting Saturday with general manager Steve Yzerman and Ritola's agent, Don Baisley, calmed emotions.
"Don and I agreed let's not get too far ahead of things," Yzerman said. "We don't have to make decisions on careers or anything yet. Let's get back (to Tampa) and see the doctors and see the effect of different types of treatment."
The team also is seeking a doctor in Sweden who can review Ritola's case and talk to him in his native language. "So there are no misunderstandings," Yzerman said. "We're not looking for a second opinion."
"I'm still down about it," Ritola said. "It's really hard to accept. Steve and the whole team have showed they really want to help. Hopefully, they can figure it out."