On Wednesday, Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told reporters that veteran offensive tackle Russell Okung has been dealing with a “pretty serious medical issue” since early June.
He didn’t offer much more, though Okung was placed on the non-football injury list.
On Thursday morning, Okung offered some scary details.
‘The decision saved my life’
In a statement posted to Twitter, Okung wrote the following:
“We all know injuries are part of the game, but I wanted to share some current details about my current health status which is quite different than previous ‘injury’ scenarios I’ve experienced in my career.
“After experiencing unusual chest pain at practice on June 1st, I went to urgent care out of an abundance of caution. According to the doctors who treated me, the decision to do so likely saved my life.
“Thankfully, I’m okay now, but a few tests revealed that I suffered a Pulmonary Embolism caused by blood clots. When detected early, this condition is very treatable and I’m grateful to have access to the best available care as I continue on the path to full recovery.
“I’m very grateful to my teammates, coaches and the entire Chargers organization for their care, support and understanding during this challenging situation. Thanks to an incredible medical team and a very supportive family, I hope to be back on the field as quickly as possible.
“While near death type experiences are certainly a wake-up call, I’m feeling great physically. It’s not an ankle or shoulder. As soon as doctors clear me, my plans include blocking #17’s [Philip Rivers’] blind side all the way to Miami.”
Super Bowl LIV will be played in Miami.
What is a pulmonary embolism?
A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs.
Via the Mayo Clinic, in most cases, pulmonary embolism is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs, though rarely the clots come from other parts of the body.
Because clots block blood flow to the lungs, they can be life-threatening. As Okung noted, getting treatment quickly may have saved his life – about one-third of people with undiagnosed and untreated pulmonary embolism die.
Treatments can include medications like blood thinners and clot-dissolvers or surgical clot removal.
At camp with teammates
Okung is at Chargers’ camp with his teammates, though he can’t practice yet. It’s unclear at this point when that will happen; Telesco indicated on Wednesday that the 31-year-old two-time Pro Bowler could miss all of training camp.
Given the severity of what he experienced, Okung’s health is most important.
Third-year lineman Sam Tevi could flip from right tackle to left in Okung’s absence; the Chargers also drafted Trey Pipkins in the third round this year.
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