Hungry to return

PAUL FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

Obby Khan is feeling better. A whole lot better.

The evidence is on his breakfast table every morning.

"I want to eat now," the Blue Bombers centre, missing in action so far this season, was saying the other day. "I'm eating a lot now. I'm getting up and eating four eggs, I'm eating Eggo's, I'm eating toast, I'm having juice and having a shake. I can go home after practice, I eat. I take a nap, I wake up, I eat again. I eat dinner. I'm back to where I was, pre-sickness. That's the best sign for me, that I know I'm getting healthy."

Much of the last month, Khan couldn't say that.

Sidelined during training camp with what he prefers to call simply a viral infection -- "I feel that's personal information, my own personal medical health" -- the former 300-pounder was in such bad shape he wasn't even coming out to watch practice, let alone bang heads on the O-line.

"I was at home pretty much in bed the last two weeks," Khan said. "Weak, tired, dizzy -- the whole nine yards. I'm feeling 100 times better than I was last week."

Things were so bad, the guy was barely eating. Remember, we're talking about an O-lineman here. They don't call 'em hogs because they smell bad and roll around in the dirt.

Now, as a practising Muslim, Khan is used to fasting. But not like this.

"You get nauseated and irregular bowel movements, all that stuff," Khan said. "Plus, you just don't want to eat. Psychologically you don't want to eat because you're afraid of what's going to happen. And the medicine you're on makes you lose 90% of your appetite."

Khan figures he's got at least 20 pounds to get back. Not to mention his conditioning, strength and footwork.

The month of games he'll miss by the time he returns to the lineup -- he's hoping in two weeks -- he can never recover.

So much for the dominant, breakout season the 26-year-old Ottawa native was expected to deliver. With three years under his belt, the former Renegade, Winnipeg's top lineman a year ago, appeared poised to don the crown as the top centre in the CFL East, if not the entire loop.

That was the word after Khan's first extended stay at the position.

"He had such a good rookie season -- rookie at centre -- for us last year, we were counting on him being a major factor in our O-line this year," head coach Doug Berry said. "He's been a noticeable guy missing, because he's such a vibrant personality and a leader for the offence."

Khan's condition was never career-threatening. But it is life-altering, in that he has to adjust his diet and probably take medication for the rest of his life.

"It's quite serious, and the team knows that," he said. "We're taking every precaution to make sure I get healthy and come back for the long haul of the season."

Better now than the last four weeks of the season, is how Khan looks at it.

Not that he hasn't had his dark moments.

"My main concern is health," he said. "Without your health, you got nothing. And then obviously comes the frustration and anger and disappointment of not playing. Training so hard in the off-season and, bang -- letting the team down. It's hard. It's really hard.

"That's the cards you're dealt. What can you do? You can either crawl under a rock and say, 'My life sucks. I hate my life,' or you can say, 'I've got to do the best I can.' I'm lucky. I can recover from it and come back and play."

First things first, though. The man's got some weight to put on.

Then again, maybe he could just switch positions. Aren't the Bombers short of defensive backs right now?

"The team's been fairly supportive -- other than the weight jokes," Khan said.

Sorry, couldn't resist.


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