ALAMEDA, Calif. (Nov. 9, 2005) -- Langston Walker has a 6-inch scar across his middle and no energy to think about stepping back on the football field.
Oakland's left guard has lost significant weight -- he says at least 15 pounds -- since undergoing emergency surgery Oct. 25 to repair a hemorrhage in his abdomen. His biggest concern is just getting better after the biggest health scare of his life.
"It's serious," he said while making his first visit to the locker room since the operation. "It's definitely scary and it really puts things into perspective. That's an injury you can die from. I don't think anybody at age 26, unless you're going to war, really thinks about dying."
Walker said he sustained a blow to the right side during a 38-17 victory against Buffalo on Oct. 23, but didn't know it was anything serious. The hit caused a blood vessel to rupture, then he began bleeding internally. He alerted the Raiders' training staff two days later that he was in a lot of pain, and they initially thought he had appendicitis.
Walker went in for further tests on his appendix, but doctors discovered internal bleeding and had to operate.
He had lost four units of blood, he estimates close to a gallon, and needed a transfusion to give him back two of those units. He was hospitalized for a week.
"I was checked into the hospital and they went in to look at the appendix and it was fine, but then they found all this blood and that's when they had to slice me open," he said. "Once I had woken up in ICU, I'm thinking I had my appendix taken out and the nurses are like, 'No, it's a little more serious than that.' "
The 6-foot-8 Walker, who has dropped considerable weight from his 345-pound frame, had not previously said anything about stomach problems. Coach Norv Turner believes many players have injuries they don't know about right away.
"I can't really think of a certain play, but that's when it happened," Walker said. "It wasn't in a car accident, nothing like that. It really didn't bother me in the game, so I don't know about playing through it, but I know once I had gotten home on Monday and going into Tuesday I was in a considerable amount of pain -- to the point where I was probably going to check myself into the hospital."
Now, about the only thing Walker can do is rest. He plans to be on the sideline for a Nov. 13 home game against the Denver Broncos, but he gets tired quickly. Even when he's home, he can't do much because his energy is so low.
Walker received calls from teammates, coaches and even owner Al Davis -- though he hardly recalls his conversation with Davis because Walker still was groggy.
The Raiders were happy to see him, but they aren't going to push him to get back quickly.
"He looks good. He's thin in the face," Turner said. "The biggest thing right now for Langston -- and it was great, him coming in -- is he's still not back to full strength. He's weak a little bit and he needs to take care of himself. When he makes enough progress where he feels good and can be around -- yeah, we'll encourage him. We want him to be around and be part of it."
A talented kick blocker, he is in his fourth NFL season after the Raiders selected him out of nearby California in the second round of the 2002 draft.
He is taking iron supplements and trying to regain his strength.
"The doctor said the scar and the cut will be about 90 percent healed in about five weeks or so," he said. "After that, it's all about getting back into the groove of things. ... It's sort of like an early offseason. To me, I just wake up and sort of putt-putt around the house and do things that I've been putting off. I get tired a lot because of the amount of blood that I lost, so I have to slow myself down. But it's tough missing something that you're used to doing every day."
The Associated Press News Service
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