Brian Vickers decided last week it was better to sit out for the rest of the season while he is being treated for blood clots in his lungs and left leg.
Vickers talked about his condition, treatment and future with Red Bull Racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: What happened?
Vickers: I had chest pains at night and had a hard time breathing. I woke up and being young and 26, I thought I was invincible so I just went back to sleep, brushed it off. The next day I was walking around the Capitol visiting the Washington Monument and having lunch with a friend, Lincoln Memorial, so on and so forth. Started to get a little worse. I called two doctors back here (Charlotte, N.C.) and one of them you already know and the other one I'm going to leave out of it unless he tells me otherwise. Dr. (Jerry) Petty and he convinced me to go to the emergency room. I asked him if he knew a doctor in town, told him the symptoms and I thought it was overkill. He said, "Just go to the emergency room, do this for me, get a CT scan." I said, "ok," so I went.
Question: What did they find?
Vickers: Going through the CT scans I had some more problems, they took me out, found the blood clots in both lungs, my left leg and immediately started me on Lovenox, Heparin, I believe it is and Coumadin. Saturday I was relaxing and just taking it easy. I had some more pains Saturday night and went to the hospital to see Dr. (Steven) Limentani, which we were going to do on Monday, but we sped that up a little bit and visited the emergency room at CMC (Carolinas Medical Center) on Sunday, I believe it was, and got readmitted because I was still having some pains and then they released me fine on Monday. I've been good ever since.
Question: Why are you sitting out the rest of the season?
Vickers: As reality set in, I realized that this was probably going to be a much longer process than normal. That being said, as disappointing as this is, it's an opportunity that I'm going to use to make the most of life and try to make it a positive, learn something from it. I'm going to spend some time with the race team, learning some different roles.
Question: Will this limit your physical activity?
Vickers: I plan on being in the best shape that I've ever been in at the end of this six months. Basically everything just kind of increases in risk, whether it's race car driving or doing the things I love. So basically, I can't do most of the things I love because most of the things I love are pretty crazy. Like skydiving, driving race cars, snowboarding, skiing, wakeboarding - I could go on down the list, motorcycles. Anytime you are on blood thinners, you run a risk of bleeding, internally or externally. That's basically my limiting factor. As far as exercise, training, diet or any of that is concerned, all of that will be normal and I plan on being in the best shape that I've every been in starting the Daytona 500.
Question: What caused this condition?
Vickers: We really don't know yet. Just like the doctor said, we're not going to speculate. Anything is possible, anything could have been it, anything could have happened. It could have been any number of activities that I partake in, traveling, air travel, there are a lot of things that can cause it. We don't know the answer yet.
Question: What was your immediate reaction to finding out you needed to sit out for the rest of the year?
Vickers: This is what I love to do. I was laying the hospital and I probably wasn't asking the right questions. Instead of asking, "Am I going to live?" I was asking, "Can I race this weekend?" That tells you kind of how I feel about racing. This is my life, this is what I love to do and I fully intend on doing it again. Being more focused and driven to do it better than I've ever done it before.
Question: Most of the drivers have reached out to you. What does that mean to you?
Vickers: The drivers have been so supportive. And I think that means a lot when you have the thoughts, prayers, appreciation, respect of your peers. No different than I'm sure that all of you would feel the same way. Your peers, they'd understand you more so than anyone else. They know what you go through. They see what you do. That means a lot. The drivers have been incredible. The texts, the calls. All the ones that I'm friends with , obviously I speak to on a regular basis -- Jeff (Gordon), Jimmie (Johnson), Casey (Mears). But a lot of the guys that I am friends with, but more acquaintances. And even guys, we didn't even have each other's cell phones, have reached out. And the things they've said in the media have been great. It means the world to me.