Kyle Okposo could not believe the support.
There were 500 messages waiting for him upon his release from a Buffalo ICU.
“Current players, former players, former coaches – everyone reached out,” Okposo said. “It’s overwhelming, and it makes me proud to be a part of the hockey community. We’re a tight-knit group and we stick together. Thinking about your support brings a tear to my eye.”
Okposo sent a letter to fans on Monday via the Sabres website. The letter details how his concussion issues began and the road to recovery.
The hit that started the ordeal happened in practice and was fairly innocuous.
Or so he thought.
“In the ensuing days, my mood began to change. I didn’t notice, but the people around me did,” Okposo said. “By the time we were playing our game against Florida on March 27, I had been having trouble sleeping for a couple of days already. My senses for some reason were worsening with each passing day. I thought I was just overtired.”
Okposo played against Florida. It would be his last game of the season because things only got worse.
“By the time that game was over, I had no appetite. I realized I was beginning to lose weight. Still, I got on the plane to Columbus with the mindset that I would play the following night,” Okposo said.
“When things only got worse the next day, I spoke with coach and made the decision to sit that one out. I thought some rest and time off would do the trick. But even then, things didn’t improve. I went to the hospital hoping that they could find a way for me to get some sleep.
“The medications they gave me to sleep caused a negative reaction in my body. I still couldn’t sleep, and the weight loss continued at an alarming rate. At one point, I weighed less than 200 pounds. I haven’t weighed that little since I was 17. Now, the initial thought was a possible concussion.”
Okposo’s doctors thought he needed a place to be stabilized. Hence, the trip to the ICU. He called the doctors there “exceptional”.
The support was special, especially from his Sabres teammates.
“I’ve only played with those guys for one year, with Matt Moulson being the exception,” Okposo said. “The fact that all of them were so supportive through this shows that the bond between teammates really does transcend what happens on the ice.”
Okposo says the experience changes his priorities. He’s spent a lot of time with his wife and two children the last few months.
“It was refreshing for me to get back into the routine of just being a dad. I appreciate everyone for respecting my privacy during that time,” Okposo said.
He’s consulted with lots of people about his condition and he’s confident there is more hockey in his future.
“I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who’s dealt with this,” Okposo said. “If I didn’t feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn’t be the case.”
Okposo has been playing in a pro level summer league in Minnesota the last couple weeks. He likes the direction of the Sabres under Jason Botterill and Phil Housley.
“Winning here is something that I want badly,” Okposo said. “I think Jason and Phil are going to be a big part of it. I can’t wait to be back with the boys next month to get this going.”
He’ll never forget all the players, coaches and fans that had his back while he was laying flat on it.