• Video Below: See coach Bo Pelini discuss his health
• Blog: Additional press conference video
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LINCOLN — After a “little bit of a scare” and hospital trip during Nebraska's 42-13 win over Arkansas State, Husker coach Bo Pelini on Monday said doctors gave him “a clean bill of health” after a series of precautionary tests.
No changes in routine. It's full speed ahead toward a matchup with FCS opponent Idaho State.
“Everything we did — everything came back perfect,” Pelini said of tests taken at a still-unconfirmed hospital. “I'm not just healthy, I'm very healthy.”
The 44-year-old, fifth-year coach said he suffered from an “upset stomach” before the game that turned into “burning” and “severe heartburn” during the first half. He experienced dizziness and “it alarmed me a little bit.” NU doctors took his pulse on the sideline.
By halftime, they'd convinced Pelini to get in an ambulance and go to the hospital.
“It wasn't something I wanted to do,” Pelini said. “But it comes to a certain point where, if they don't like something, you have to listen to what they say. They're the experts, not me.”
Pelini said it was a “logical choice” to have defensive coordinator John Papuchis take over on the sideline. While the Huskers committed three quick turnovers and briefly let the Red Wolves back into the game, doctors checked out Pelini, who got to see the game's final minutes, as the Huskers ran out the clock.
He was released Saturday afternoon, and “relaxed” through the evening before returning to work Sunday to review Idaho State tape. Several players visited Pelini's office, including quarterback Taylor Martinez.
“Coach Bo — he's a trouper,” safety P.J. Smith said.
Said running back Ameer Abdullah: “After the game we were all concerned as to when we could see him and everything. And to see him back to health — back to his old self — was really relieving.”
Papuchis said Saturday he could tell Pelini wasn't right during the game. He wasn't as loud or vocal. Pelini said he began to feel bad one hour before kickoff, and the stomach/heartburn symptoms got progressively worse.
He twice told a World-Herald reporter on Monday that he did not experience chest pains while conceding that is “obviously” a doctor's biggest concern.
“It started with an upset stomach and then it kind of felt like heartburn and burning,” Pelini said. “That's the symptom that made the doctors kind of take caution. Did I ever have chest pains? I never had chest pains.
“It's kind of hard to explain what I felt.”
For good reason, said a doctor contacted by The World-Herald who did not treat Pelini but has treated patients with similar complaints.
“There are a lot of things packed into a small space,” said Dr. Andrew Herd, emergency room physician at Alegent Creighton Health Midlands Hospital in Papillion of organs situated in a human's torso. “So sometimes it's difficult to determine exactly what the source of the pain is.”
The stomach can splash acid onto the bottom part of the esophagus, which sits behind the heart. The lungs curve around the heart. Herd said patients often come to his emergency room complaining of chest pain “that isn't cardiac-related.”
Still, Herd said, “atypical pain” in the stomach or chest should be checked as soon as possible. It's not smart for patients to wait out their symptoms. Generally, patients going to an emergency room immediately get an electrocardiogram, or EKG, Herd said. Doctors may also draw blood for protein checks.
Pelini declined to specify which tests he received or which hospital he attended. Saturday, The World-Herald called and visited Lincoln's three major hospitals and none said they had admitted a patient named Pelini. There also is no incident report of Pelini's trip. The Lincoln Police Department does not handle reports on ambulance rides from Memorial Stadium on game day, and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln police department does not write reports on medical emergencies during sporting events, said UNL assistant police chief Charlotte Evans.
Although Pelini said his family has some history of heart issues, he's never had them himself. He works out regularly — “I get after it,” he joked — and tries to keep flexible working hours that shape around family events and meals.
“I have tremendous balance in my life — I'm not a real stressed out person,” said Pelini, often an animated, emotional presence on NU's sideline. “I'm just not. Probably the biggest stress you have is getting from here and getting to my kids' games.”
Still, Pelini said, he wanted to take no chances Saturday. Even if it meant peeling away from his job for a half.
“I was into what was going on and everything, but you listen to your body,” Pelini said. “At the end of the day, I want to make sure I'm walking in and seeing my wife and kids. That's my No. 1 goal. When the game's over, that I'm going to walk in and give my wife and kids a hug.
“And when the doctors became concerned, I listened to what they told me. I'm glad I did. And I'm glad I know I don't have any issues. One thing I do: I take care of myself. I always have.”
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