Training camp is approaching and Chris Bosh's status with the Heat remains up in the air. While the star big man believes he is ready to return to the court, he still hasn’t received medical clearance from the team after lung and calf pain caused by blood clotting cut short his previous two seasons.
The situation has not been resolved because Bosh must take blood-thinning medication during the season to prevent clots from forming and threatening his long-term health. However, that medication must be out of Bosh’s system before he physically exerts himself in game action.
Bosh is itching to play and has done his own homework. During an appearance on Uninterrupted’s Open Run podcast, Bosh said he’s consulted with other athletes who have resumed their careers while using blood-thinning medication:
"I'm not the first athlete to do this regiment,” Bosh said. “[NHL player Tomas Fleischmann had the] same problem I actually had the second time [with blood clots]. This is five, six years [ago]. He's been playing for five years now.
“And this particular doctor has had the same regiment with other athletes. So, this is nothing that is new. It's not groundbreaking. We're not reinventing the wheel here. It's pretty standard. It’s been proven. Guys have played on it. Like I said, for anybody to have worries, there are guys playing basketball and hockey and football [with this regiment]."
Bosh only mentioned Fleischmann, but here are some other athletes he could have named:
Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, MLB Pitcher
The former Red Sox pitcher was diagnosed with circulatory problems caused by blood clotting in the axillary artery in 1988, but continued to play until 1995 while using blood thinners. He used to inject himself with heparin sodium after every game and three more times in the following 36 hours, according to reports. He continued to be an effective pitcher for several years after being diagnosed.
Kimmo Timonen, NHL defenseman
Timonen was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis after a blood clot was found on his leg in 2014. He was expected to retire, but decided to play one more season to go out on his own terms. In order to do so, he had to inject himself with blood thinners.
Timonen was traded from the Flyers to the Blackhawks in his final season. He played in 16 games and won the Stanley Cup before finally calling it a career.
Tomas Fleischmann, NHL winger
As Bosh mentioned, Fleischmann was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism in January of 2011 and missed the rest of the Avalanche's season. He had suffered from clotting in his leg in 2010, as well. He was told that he might never play again, but managed to remain active by taking blood thinners after practices and games and by wearing a rubberized suit when flying, according to Fox Sports' Jameson Olive. The veteran is a free agent as of now, but is hoping to continue his career.
Steven Stamkos, NHL center
The Tampa Bay Lightning star underwent surgery for a clot in his collarbone in April of 2016 and was presumed to be out until he completed treatment with blood thinners. He sped up his return by switching to an injectable form of the drug, which allowed him to continue playing like Timonen did. Thanks to the new treatment, he managed to suit up for the Lightning's Game 7 loss to the Penguins.
Phil Jones, English Premier League defender
Jones felt pain in his leg at the start of preseason with Manchester United in 2015, but thought nothing of it. As the pain persisted, he underwent tests and a clot was found on his calf. He missed close to two months before returning to the pitch on Sept. 23, but continued to take blood thinning tablets. The 24-year-old had no further issues stemming from the clot and has continued on with his career.
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Though Bosh understandably draws confidence from these examples, each case is different. Boyd was a starting pitcher that only took the mound once every five days, whereas an NBA team often plays four games in six days. Soccer teams only play once or twice a week, giving players like Jones more time for the medication to leave their systems. Sometimes, the thrombosis is mild and the person will have to take blood thinners temporarily. Others must to continue the treatment indefinitely.
There are different types of medication, as well. Blood thinners is an umbrella term which includes anticoagulants and antiplatelets. The former are generally more aggressive drugs and carry more danger, according to the American Heart Society. There are different drugs within each category, as well. Some take hours to leave the body, while others take days.
The new drugs that take less time to dip out are reportedly part of Bosh's preferred regiment. He wanted to return to action last season while using a blood thinner that would have left his system in eight hours, but the Heat declined. Now they seem more amenable to the idea, according to The Miami Herald.
If that's true, the player and the team could meet halfway, with Bosh returning to the court with certain restrictions. Perhaps he could sit out back-to-back games or stay home on long road trips that require long flights between cities.
The Heat's training camp begins Sept. 27, so the parties have two weeks to come to an agreement. Both sides have done their homework. All that’s left is to find a plan that works for Bosh’s specific condition.