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A Very Tough Period Of Time For Kyle Okposo

from Tim Grahan of The Athletic,

Just over 18 months ago, Kyle suffered a concussion in a Buffalo Sabres workout, but the hit felt so ordinary he wouldn’t be diagnosed for days.

Even with that knowledge, medical experts from Buffalo General Hospital’s neurosurgical department, from the Sabres and from the NHL were unable to explain why Kyle had gone through a manic phase, why the lifelong introvert spent three days calling people from his past to tell them off, why he stayed awake for four days straight, why he stopped eating and dwindled to a teenage weight, why he told Danielle he was willing to harm himself simply so he could sleep again.

“Kyle Okposo could have jumped off a frigging building,” his agent, Pat Brisson, said. “He could have ended it.”

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: kyle+okposo


Primis's avatar

This is honestly the truly, genuinely scary stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making light somehow of the guys that take one or multiple big hits and then have symptoms they can’t shake.  That’s still completely awful too.

But this… this came out of basically almost nothing.

My father has always been a very outgoing person completely comfortable in a large crowd of people, being around noise, etc.  He had no fear of heights, as he spent a fair amount of time doing construction as well as time as a volunteer firefighter when he was much younger.  He owned and operated a local hardware store for 12 years and learned every customer’s name, what they did, etc, and was always the type to never hesitate to engage someone in conversation.

A few years ago my father had to have surgery to remove a small section of his intenstine to resolve some problems.  They put him under, the surgery went smoothly, and when he came back out of it and eventually home from the hospital… we realized something was weird.  He no longer was (or is) outgoing, and instead is a homebody who avoids people usually.  He now absolutely hate crowds and noise and il leave things like birthday parties or get-togethers early.  Heights suddenly bother him in a big way, where they never used to.

What happened? We have absolutely no idea, and the doctors have none either because they’re aware of it and can provide no explanation.  HIs personality changed.  Something about the surgery changed something obviously, but nobody can pinpoint what, save for the sheer guess that it’s something chemical somewhere.  They’ve been able to work with him a bit so that his odd reactions are not so severe and frequent, but they’re still there lurking underneath and they surface from time to time.  He’s been changed.

It’s terrifying that while you’re waiting for the really big hit that might end your career or give you awful symptoms…. that might not be what is even needed to change you.  It might be just a small hit, or no hit at all and something else.  Humans are incredibly resilient and completely fragile at the same time.  You can lop an entire limb off a human and they will go on about life and still find a way for everything.  Or a person can merely bump into something and it could cripple them and their ability for the rest of their life.

Hopefully Okposo eventually gets everything sorted out, if nothing else to be able to live a normal life with or without hockey.

Posted by Primis on 09/24/18 at 09:27 AM ET


Thanks for sharing Primis. Yes the human body - no matter how much we know about it - is still a mystery on so many levels. I wonder how society will look back on our activities in 500 years.

Posted by Moose Moss on 09/24/18 at 11:15 AM ET

dreamsofhope's avatar

Posted by Primis on 09/24/18 at 09:27 AM ET

Primis, although on a practical scale it isn’t worth much, every ounce of hope I can muster is being sent your Father’s way. And while I know that won’t necessarily get him back to where he was, I at least want to communicate that I’m sorry and that I care.

I have been knocked out cold, twice, playing indoor soccer and started having regular seizures 10 years ago. 3 years ago, following a concussion, I had a grand mal seizure and have yet to fully recover. I ended up experiencing crying spells, panic attacks, and terror on a daily basis, finally landing me in a psychiatric hospital for a week.

Head injuries are a serious problem. I often say people would take my situation more seriously if I were bleeding from the head all of the time. But since concussions are an “invisible” injury, often people have no idea what a wound on the brain can do. There is nothing more challenging than you brain giving you false information, or changing your whole processing system.

My heart goes out to Okposo, Franzen, etc. Losing yourself is one of the most horrendous things, and all of my hope and wishes go out to a full recovery or as close as possible for all of our hockey heroes, friends, and family.

Posted by dreamsofhope from Colorado on 09/24/18 at 11:25 AM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

Humans are incredibly resilient and completely fragile at the same time.

Pretty amazing, huh. And so true. All my best to your father. 

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 09/24/18 at 12:09 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Wow Primis, Dreams - those are not good stories.

I guess I’ll share a recent one of my own.  I had a concussion a few years ago - honestly can’t remember which year it was but I think it was about 1.5 years ago.  It was my first and it was really bad.

I was “auditioning” for a new team at work and was working with this team around the time the concussion happened.  Things were going good with my try-out, so I was getting more and more responsibility - right around the time I banged my head.  I then suffered memory loss, couldn’t remember processes, couldn’t look at the computer screen, and struggled just to commute to work.  Problem was, I didn’t want to tell my boss because I didn’t want anyone to think of me differently. 

Due to some stuff at work I went back to my normal gig at the company, which was perfectly fine, but here I am a year or two later and I can’t remember 80% of the people I worked with when I was with that team.  They’ll come up to me now and say, “Hey, how’s it going man?  Have you been out biking?”  And I’ll be like, “uhhhhh…yeahhhhh” all while thinking to myself, “Who is this and how do they know my hobbies and my name?”  When I ask around for their name and check my inbox I’ll find 2 months of correspondence and meetings with them on projects we were a part of.  But I can’t remember these people.  At all.

Everything was getting better a few months ago, and I was finally starting to feel normal again. 

Until two weeks ago.  Playing beach volleyball; its the playoffs.  I’m competitive and wanted to win; a ball comes over the net and normally I wouldn’t try to get it because it was a stretch, but given the playoff situation I dove, made contact, and we got the point.  But as soon as I hit the ball I knew something wasn’t right.  I’m not 100% sure but I believe I got a concussion from whiplash when I hit the ground.  It’s either that or PCS because it’s the same issues I had previously.  All I know is, I lost my grocery cart at the grocery store the other day, I’ve set up appointments that I don’t remember, and I’ve had conversations that I don’t remember either.

We’ll see what happens next.  It’s tough though because most people can’t relate and don’t understand.  Until I had my first one, I didn’t think a lot of it.  I sure do now. 

Anyways, as Frasier Crane would say, “wishing you all good mental health”

Posted by TreKronor on 09/24/18 at 02:54 PM ET

dreamsofhope's avatar

Posted by TreKronor on 09/24/18 at 02:54 PM ET


Be careful. I’m very sorry to hear about your situation and wishing you a concussion free life from here on out. The hard thing is that sometimes these are hard things to let go of. I shouldn’t continue to play soccer, let alone keeper, but it’s my passion and my love. In Franzen’s case (and on a much larger scale than mine), I can understand why he kept trying, even if it made things worse in the end. It’s good to share and it’s good to listen. This thread has been a surprising bright spot of my day.

Posted by dreamsofhope from Colorado on 09/24/18 at 04:04 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Thanks for the wishes for my father, guys.  He’s doing better.  Slowly.  It’s a… word a lot of you are tired of seeing… process.  It was very rough at first because he did things like left his grandkids’ birthday parties very early and stuff like that, and there were things he froze up and refused to come to be a part of even.  But he’s come back a ways now.  He’ll never be where he was originally, but at least he’s somewhat back there.

TreKronor and dreamsofhope… man… that’s awful.  Like, really really awful.  Take care of yourself and do what you guys need to do to not have more.  I played a lot of sports when I was younger, and I was a little guy.  And I had to play extra hard because of my size.  My head got knocked around… a lot.  Several times my head bounced off the gym floor in school… once into the raised stage at the one end of the basketball court…  I now consider myself very lucky that aside from a short-lived headache I don’t think I’ve had other lingering problems.

Get well, guys.  This stuff is so scary.

Posted by Primis on 09/25/18 at 12:40 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

This was a guy who wasn’t even on anyone’s radar 2 weeks ago.  He was the “bonus pick” that everyone was like, “ehhhh okaaaay” about. 

Looking forward to seeing him in a few years, but we are in no hurry.

Posted by TreKronor on 09/26/18 at 09:08 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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