On Thursday, Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang met with media for the first time since it was learned he suffered a stroke in late January, and shared some emotional details about the incident.
Letang’s wife, Catherine, found him on the floor the morning of the stroke — Jan. 29 — at which time Letang said he was alert but unable to function.
“My family is worried,” he said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That was the difficult part, when you see your mom crying, and your wife crying.
“The day before, I was totally fine. Then, I woke up the next morning and it went like this.”
Letang has been out of action since the stroke and is unsure if he’ll be able to return this season. He has started light workouts and will reportedly have another series of tests in 2-3 weeks, at which time a decision will be made about his playing future for the remainder of the campaign.
“I would like to step on the ice and play,” Letang explained, per NHL.com. “But there are many things that won’t allow me to do that.”
Following the stroke, initial tests revealed Letang has a small hole in the wall of his heart. It’s a defect that all people have before birth, but the hole seals shut for most people — here’s more, from the Trib:
PFO, or patent foramen ovale, affects 20 to 25 percent of Americans, according to doctors. Some of the holes have a flap-like opening; others do not.
All babies have the hole before they are born. After birth, the hole usually closes within 72 hours, sometimes with the first breath.
There was no definitive diagnosis that PFO caused the stroke. According to the Trib’s Josh Yohe, Letang doesn’t intend to have surgery to correct the hole, noting that doctors believe there’s a good chance he will play hockey again.
For now, though, the Pittsburgh blueliner is simply focusing on the present — not the future.
“I have some good days, some bad days,” he explained. “I’m trying to improve every day. I see doctors twice a week. We’ll go from there.”