A malfunctioning CAT scan machine likely allowed North Dakota State star linebacker Grant Olson to play in the Bison's national championship-game victory over Sam Houston State.
Olson spent a couple of days in the hospital with an inflamed appendix prior to the game against the Bearkats in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 5 and there was some question whether the junior would even make the trip with his team. Head coach Craig Bohl said Jan. 1 that Olson would make the trip to Texas and was probable to play.
Olson, the leader of NDSU's top-ranked defense, started and made two tackles from his middle linebacker position in the Bison's 39-13 victory over Sam Houston.
But, in an e-mail exchange with me, Olson said he nearly wasn't allowed to fly to Texas and play in the title game.
Here is the sequence of events, according to Olson:
Olson felt a lot of pain Dec. 28 and went to Sanford in Fargo to get it examined. The CAT scan machine was not working properly so doctors gave him antibiotics, which greatly reduced the pain.
Olson returned to the doctor the next day and had a CAT scan, which showed the appendix very swollen and inflamed much larger than its normal size. Doctors believed the condition had been festering since the Bison's semifinal victory over Georgia Southern on Dec. 14, but had no way of knowing for sure.
Olson was sent to the emergency room and checked into the hospital. Since the antibiotics seemed to be working, the Sanford surgeon decided to continue that course of action and hold off on surgery. The drugs worked well enough that Olson was released and allowed to fly to Texas and play in the game.
"I was beyond lucky ... because when I went in, the CAT scan machine was not working," Olson said. "Had it been working properly, odds are I would have had my appendix removed that same day and would not have been able to play in the game or even travel down to Texas."
Olson, who set a school record with 29 tackles in the playoff quarterfinals against Wofford, had a much quieter game against Sam Houston. But his presence on the field, making defensive calls, cannot be minimized.
"I was on antibiotics the whole time and never felt 100 percent, but was feeling well enough to play," he said. "There were a couple of times during the game when I got hit there and it hurt, but nothing too serious. I felt stiff during the game due to lack of practice, my muscles weren't working like I would have liked them to.
"That being said, I was definitely healthy enough to play and perform at an adequate level to help out my teammates so there was no way I was going to miss that game. Many guys both on special teams and defensively stepped up bit in my absence and I'm very proud to be on the same team as those men ... Carlton Littlejohn and Travis Beck, to name a couple."
When Olson returned to Fargo after the title game, doctors wanted to do a check-up because they weren't exactly sure what was wrong with the appendix. Doctors decided it was best to remove the appendix to avoid trouble in the future. Olson had surgery, and is out of the hospital now and said he expects to be back to normal in a couple of weeks.
"I feel very blessed and lucky that I was was even able to make the trip and I'm so thankful I was able to play in the game," Olson said. "I firmly believe that God was looking out for me and answered my prayers to allow me to play. I know many, many other family, friends and the best fans in world (Bison Nation) were praying for me and I'm convinced that made the difference.
"I realize some people are making me out to be tougher than I actually am. All I know is that many of my teammates would have done the same thing."