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Packers' Bakhtiari details events that led to appendectomy

A burst appendix leads to infection throughout the abdomen and, in some cases, death
David Bakhtiari
Posted at 9:52 AM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 10:52:26-05

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari was looking for some peace of mind a couple of weeks ago when he talked to the team’s medical staff about a sore abdomen.

He ended up undergoing an appendectomy that probably will sideline him for a second straight game Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams. Even so, Bakhtiari’s decision to ask about the issue prevented a potentially scary situation.

Bakhtiari said he felt what he believed to be an abdominal strain or contusion on Dec. 1 as the Packers prepared for that weekend’s game at Chicago.

"I talked to my wife about it and I was like, ’If I feel the same pain, I’ll bring it up to the doctors tomorrow,” Bakhtiari said Friday.

Bakhtiari felt fine on that Friday morning but brought it up to the team physician, Dr. Pat McKenzie, anyway. McKenzie referred him to Dr. James Ebben, who works at the Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine, about a block from Lambeau Field.

“Dr. Ebben came in, did a couple tests and he was like, ‘Let’s just rule out the worst-case scenario. Let’s give you a CT scan,’ ” Bakhtiari recalled. “I was like, ‘OK, Friday’s my big practice day, so as long as I can get it done before so I can practice.’ I go in there, I do the test, waiting for the doctor to clear it and she (Ebben’s assistant) said, ‘The doctor wants to talk to you.’ When that happens, you’re like, ‘OK, what the (heck) happened?’ ”

The tests showed Bakhtiari had appendicitis. Based on the scans, the doctors thought it was days from bursting.

So instead of off to practice, it was off to surgery.

“When I woke up, she’s like, ‘We had to do the big surgery because it was leaking,’” Bakhtiari said. “She thought I was a week from the CT but she’s like, ‘If it didn’t burst Saturday, you would’ve (burst) it Sunday.’”

Sunday would have been during the game against the Bears. A burst appendix leads to infection throughout the abdomen and, in some cases, death.

“The scary part for me that people don’t understand is when we have adrenaline going, so much stuff gets covered up,” he said. “I would probably bet I wouldn’t even know I would’ve (burst) it until postgame. I would’ve thought I got hit in the guts and I would have been like, ‘Suck it up. Let’s finish out the game and then let’s figure it out.’ ”

Bakhtiari wouldn’t put a timeline on his potential return.

“The only thing I know is they had to really open me,” he said.

The Packers (5-8) have four games remaining in the season and are clinging to slim playoff hopes. Coming off their bye, Bakhtiari was the only player to not practice on Friday due to injury.