Tim Prinsen has suffered considerably since his battered left knee became infected four weeks ago.
The Edmonton Eskimos centre is still on antibiotics and crutches because of the infection, which caused the joint to balloon and landed him on the sidelines for the final four regular-season games.
Naturally, Prinsen was feeling a whole lot better in the wake of Edmonton's 40-34 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, the Esks clinched a playoff berth in the Western Division and extended their streak of post-season appearances to 33 years.
"There was a lot of nervous energy by me having to watch," smiled Prinsen, who sat in his locker stall and chewed the fat with his teammates after the victory.
"The guys played incredible up front and really took it to their front seven. It was pretty to watch. I'm real proud of how the guys played.
"They came out and fought when it seemed like no one expected them to win. They proved everyone wrong and showed they can play in a pressure game."
Prinsen's absence prompted considerable change to the Esks' O-line.
Kevin Lefsrud was moved to centre from his spot at right guard, while Glen Carson took over from Lefsrud at guard and rookie Joe McGrath was handed the starting left tackle's job.
"Not being around the guys has been tough," said Prinsen, who was receiving his antibiotics intravenously following the onset of the infection.
"Not being able to contribute on the field is tough. But it's one of those things. It's part of football. Sometimes you miss a few games here and there.
"It's just unfortunately my time now. I haven't missed a game for about four years, but so it goes."
The cause of the infection remains a mystery to Prinsen.
"It's a freak thing," he admitted. "I don't know why it happened or how it happened. It's just something I have to deal with."
While the 33-year-old could be back in the lineup in time for the Western Division semifinal vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Nov. 7, that appears to be a long shot at this point.
"I have a few more appointments with the doctors and, hopefully, everything works out that the infection is completely gone," he said. "Then I can start rehabbing and who knows? Who knows how quick? It just depends on how quick the knee can come back."
LATE HIT: Running back Mike Bradley was shelved for most of the second half of Sunday's game. The Waterloo product suffered a bruised quad.