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Harpring has nice game despite woes

Jazz forward has to have more tests for G.I. tract problems

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 11:25 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz forward Matt Harpring goes up for a shot between Orlando Magic forward Maurice Evans, left, and center Dwight Howard in his first game back after missing three. (John Raoux, Associated Press) Utah Jazz forward Matt Harpring goes up for a shot between Orlando Magic forward Maurice Evans, left, and center Dwight Howard in his first game back after missing three. (John Raoux, Associated Press)
ORLANDO — Jazz forward Matt Harpring learned late Friday afternoon that he must undergo additional testing as doctors try to determine the cause of gastrointestinal issues he has been battling.
"I heard it right before I came here," Harpring said in a hallway at Amway Arena in Orlando, where he went on to play 18 minutes and score 10 points on 4-of-5 field shooting in Utah's 113-94 win over his former Magic club. "I've got ulcers in the intestines, but there's one part that I think they want to biopsy."
A biopsy involves removal of tissue from the body so it can be microscopically examined by a pathologist, who specializes in diagnosing diseases including — but not limited to — cancer.
Harpring said he will have to soon undergo a colonoscopy, a procedure that helps doctors evaluate the gastrointestinal tract.
He was uncertain when the test would be performed.
Earlier Friday, Harpring had said initial tests ruled out several possible causes of medical problems — "all the things from cancer to everything."
After results from an exam performed Thursday came back Friday, however, the additional testing was ordered.
"I think they believe everything's OK — they just have to make sure it's not some things that they have to rule out," Harpring said about an hour before Friday night's game, his first back after missing three straight.
"I'm a little nervous," Harpring added with a look of concern etched on his face. "I mean, obviously it's my body. It's me. But, I just will feel better when all the tests come back, and we know everything. I was kind of hoping that this one would come back and be, 'Everything's fine; you're good to go.' But the fact that they want to look at one part in particular kind of makes me nervous. But they (doctors) were kind of reassuring Mandy (Harpring's wife, and a doctor herself) that they don't think it's anything, but they have to make sure."
Harpring has vomited violently and subsequently passed out six times during the past 15 months, causing him to miss four games last season and three in the past week.
The most-recent episode occurred late last Friday, when Harpring got sick on a Jazz charter flight from Portland to Salt Lake City and passed out in the airplane bathroom.
"It scares me," he said Friday morning. "I mean, it's just not natural."
The 31-year-old veteran underwent testing during the past week to determine a cause for what the team has been calling "gastric distress."
Harpring, who last summer underwent surgery on his twice previously surgically repaired knee, said doctors preliminarily suspected his problems stem from anti-inflammatory medication he takes during the season.
"They think it has to do with the anti-inflammatories ... just eroding my stomach and my (gastrointestinal) tract," he said.
"One solution is to get off the anti-inflammatories," Harpring added, "but if I do that I can't play. (So) they're going to try to give me a pill that coats my stomach."
Because he has had to fast frequently and maintained a liquid diet for most of the past week, Harpring said he has lost a significant amount of weight.
Tests he's already endured include a barium exam, insertion of a scope into his stomach and — the one that prompted further testing — an exam in which a computerized camera follows a pill as it makes its way through his system over the course of an eight-hour period.
Still, he felt fine Friday.
"I'm just happy to be back on the court, really," Harpring said. "Sometimes ... you get a break away from basketball, and then you realize when you step on the court how much fun this game is.
"I've got to admit I felt good out there," he added. "I hope I can keep feeling good."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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