Support has been critical in Dalton Johnson’s recovery.
The former Fallon and current La Verne University (Calif.) linebacker lacerated his spleen on Saturday after taking a vicious hit during a punt.
Johnson said he was hit and immediately knew something wasn’t right. He could barely walk and the Leopards’ athletic trainer told Johnson he must be transported to the hospital as soon as possible.
“I was running down the field to make the tackle … and I got earholed pretty good,” Johnson said. “I ran to the sidelines and I could hardly breathe. I told the coaches I either broke all my ribs or I had fluid in my body. I could feel it.”
He was diagnosed with a laceration, placed in the intensive care unit and given three options: surgery, a catheter to relieve pressure or wait and see how the spleen would recover.
Johnson played the waiting game, which has seen an improved recovery and a positive prognosis. It was a tough way to spend his birthday, which was Wednesday, but the situation could have been worse, he said.
“There really is no point of losing it if it can heal by itself,” Johnson said.
Doctors are continually checking his hemoglobin levels, which is a protein in the red blood cells carrying oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissue. Johnson’s levels have been up and down the past several days, but he said is beginning to come back to normal.
While he has been on bed rest since the injury, Johnson said he expected to be released from Pomona Valley Hospital either late Wednesday or Thursday.
“They (the doctors) weren’t too concerned, but they were concerned,” he added. “They want it to go up … clinically it states there is no more blood in there.”
Johnson’s body has been through a lot, to say the least, the past five days. When he was first admitted to the hospital Johnson passed out.
He woke with an oxygen tube and a team of doctors assessing the situation. From there, Johnson’s condition has steadily improved and on Wednesday said “I feel great.”
Great, though, is relative to his recovery, which is expected to take up to three months. He is regaining movement throughout his body, which he said at first was extremely painful.
Once released, Johnson will not be able to participate in any stressful activities and is reduced to a light walking regiment for the next six to eight weeks.
“They said I really can’t do anything for three months,” he added.
The support, though, has kept Johnson’s spirits high. His parents and stepmom rushed to Los Angeles to be by his side and the constant barrage of phone calls, text messages and social media posts have kept his mind positive.
“It means a lot,” Johnson said. “It’s the whole Fallon crew and they have my back. I thank everyone out there who sent their love to me and kept me in their prayers. I really appreciate it all.”
Johnson, a sophomore, was poised for a big jump this season with La Verne. He didn’t play much as a freshman, but was on all special teams units and recorded one tackle in three plays in Saturday’s 50-48 loss to Whitworth.
Johnson said he was slated to play more on defense in the second half, but he was injured and now his season is over.
Nevertheless, Johnson gave a recap of the loss to Whitworth as his team rolled up 672 yards of offense and nearly pulled out the win on a last-second Hail Mary that slipped through the hands of the receiver.
“It was just one of those games,” Johnson said. “It was like Truckee (the 28-24 playoff loss and missed touchdown pass on the final play).”