'I want to play again'

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

Is Canada crazy?

The cold, harsh reality is that Tom Canada suffered an ailment that actually endangered his life.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end suffered a Grade 2 laceration of his spleen -- likely during the Labour Day Classic in Regina -- causing it to enlarge. And several times over the last two weeks, Canada said that, should the spleen rupture, he could be gone within 20 minutes -- without immediate medical attention.

Yet, Canada is still planning to play football for the Bombers again.

ALMOST PASSED OUT

Because neither Canada nor the Bombers knew he had the spleen problem in the first place, he actually played an entire CFL game, risking a blow that would have caused such a rupture. In a previous interview with the Sun Media, Canada said he almost passed out several times during that Banjo Bowl match.

Canada, 28, had been to the doctor the week before the contest with flu-like symptoms but X-rays apparently do not show any spleen enlargements.

"It was like I knew I was hurting and I knew there was something wrong with me and everyone was telling me there wasn't," said Canada, who visited his teammates at yesterday's practice. "But, after a week of basically feeling terrible, then after the game, basically feeling like I'm going to die, I felt like there's basically something wrong here.

"Then, once you find out what's wrong, it's almost a relief ... so that I can get it better and feel better about it. I feel better now."

In fact, Canada believes he will feel so much better after six months' recovery time, he will be ready for next year's training camp.

"Of course, I want to play football again," he said. "That was never really a question. I'm definitely excited about being able to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Doctors in the U.S. actually told Canada they would have removed the spleen -- which filters the blood and removes abnormal cells.

"But here, they want to give me the opportunity to heal it, which is cool because it gives me another opportunity to filter out toxins and whatnot in my body so that can be helpful -- with my lifestyle," he said to knowing laughter from the gathered media.

Although feeling better, Canada is still in pain.

"It's just when I breathe." he said. "It's like a dull roar ... When I take a deep breath, it's a sharp pain or if I talk too much in one sentence like I'm doing right now, I can't catch my breath. And when I'm laying down. But it's little stuff. It's not super bad. It's do-able.

"I have pain medication but I've been in 'far-out land' the past two weeks so, I don't want to get dependent on pain medication. If it's tolerable, I'd rather stay off the meds. It's not antibiotics or anything like that. I've just got to stay rested and don't take a direct hit to your spleen, and the best way for me to do that is to stay mellow and not play football."

But, while he mellows out, we wonder if Canada will have second thoughts about playing again. This guy, after all, is no dummy and has already put cash away for his future. Even if Canada is given a clean bill of health in six months, you have to wonder how much more pounding that spleen can take.

But then, we wondered the same sort of thing about Obby Khan, the Bomber offensive lineman who returned to play after getting his large intestine removed.

"I'm going to stay positive and have fun," Canada said. "It could be worse. You look at a guy like Obby and what he went through. This is like a piece of cake compared to what he had to go through so, I'm fortunate to be where I am and happy.

"I'll get better and life will go on."


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