Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obby Khan - Candian Football League Star with Crohn's

Guys, came across this interesting story in the Montreal Gazette of Obby Khan, a CFL (Canadian Football League) Blue Bombers Player with Crohns. Looks like he is the northern version of the Jacksonville Jaguars David Garrard. Looks like this guy had exteme pain from Crohn's. Remember football season is coming up, so be sure to follow along the story of David Garrard.

WINNIPEG - Ibrahim (Obby) Khan, a grown man of 27 who has played professional football for five years, can't describe the sheer joy he experienced last winter, when he dug into his first cheese pizza. Or when he dove into a bowl of Doritos.

"It was simply awesome," the Winnipeg offensive-lineman said this week. "Now I eat them all the time - four or five days a week."

Ah, the staples of a healthy diet.

But Khan can be excused for his indulgences. There was a time last year when his diet consisted of boiled rice and salmon exclusively. He couldn't eat fried, fatty or spicy food, chocolate, sweets or anything with seasoning. He couldn't eat fruits or vegetables. He had to take 50 pills daily and had nearly as many trips to the bathroom. There was a time he received daily morphine injections, directly into his heart, to ease the stomach pain he felt 24/7. He saw his weight fluctuate nearly 100 pounds.

"It's tough to explain," he said. "Take the worst aches, cramps and gas. Magnify it by 10 and then amplify that 24/7."

Khan was diagnosed with Chron's disease five years ago. The autoimmune condition can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to anus. Its main symptoms are pain, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and weight loss or gain.

Khan continued playing through it - he broke into the CFL with Ottawa in 2004 before joining the Blue Bombers two years later in a dispersal draft after the Renegades folded - for more than three years, taking medication that kept the disease in remission.

But things began to change last season, forcing the 6-foot-3 centre to miss 10 regular-season games, along with the Bombers' post-season run to the Grey Cup final. He took medicinal steroids, anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrhea pills. There was a pill to curb his nausea. He tried yoga, chiropractic treatments, even acupuncture. He underwent chemotherapy for six weeks after developing a virus he caught from taking all the medication. He was taking eight Percozets daily for back pain before advancing to morphine. This once healthy 300 pounder was now a shadow of himself, weighing about 205.

"I had serious cramping and bleeding,"he explained. "And the urges to go to the bathroom - there were two or three months I couldn't leave my apartment. There was a time I almost slept in the bathroom."

He has a 13- or 14-inch scar - it took 40 stitches to close the wound - he proudly displays, like a badge of honour, from the surgery he underwent to remove his large intestine, and another smaller incision from the removal of the colostomy bag. Khan said he endured three weeks of hell following the surgery.

"My whole body - I couldn't sit up. It was tough walking, coughing and breathing," he explained. "Even taking a deep breath hurt."

Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard had a foot removed from his large intestine. But Khan is the first pro athlete to have it entirely expunged and return to his career - ahead of schedule, we might add. He started practising in June and returned two weeks ago, against Calgary. It marked Khan's first game since the regular-season finale in 2007. He received a standing ovation from the crowd at Canad Inns Stadium when he was introduced, although he didn't start. He now weighs about 290 pounds.

"He's coming along, and his health's about 100 per cent," Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry said. "He's got to improve his game. We'll keep working him in, but he's not ready to play an entire game at centre. I just don't know if he'd last in this heat.

"He's a good athlete. He's tough and a motivational leader. We want him back."
Khan's diet must remain regulated, and there are still many things he can,t eat, including some fruits and vegetables. He hasn't enjoyed a salad in two years.

"I've learned I can get through anything," he said. "If you have heart, support, determination and desire, you can do anything. I've been through hell. Whatever else can happen, bring it on. I can take on anything."

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