Stefan Everts interview!

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1/26/2019 11:14 AM

The motocross World was in shock last November when news came out that Stefan Everts was fighting for his life in a Belgian hospital. The greatest motocross rider of all time had fallen ill with the dangerous virus malaria.

Now two months after Stefan was admitted to hospital, he is recovering at home, and starting to build his condition back. It has been a long and at time lethal period, one that has changed the way Stefan looks at life. We caught up with “The King” and he told us of his fight, and how it has changed him.

MXlarge: Firstly, it is fantastic to be speaking with you, because when I heard the news of your sickness, like many of us in the motocross I was very sad. I wouldn’t say we are friends, but we have shared some nice times together and your sickness really shocked me and the whole motocross World. How are you doing now?

Everts: I am much better thanks.

MXlarge: I remember we were speaking around the time of your birthday. What happened after that?

Everts: Well, as I told you, we went on holidays for two weeks and then I went to the Congo for an enduro race and they were having a special race and they asked me to come. They never thought I would come, but then a friend asked me if I wanted to join him, he knows me a long time and we raced together in the early years. He told me about the race and the organization and I said ok, I will go. I left to Congo, left on the Tuesday and was back on the Sunday, just for the race. Two weeks later, I started feeling sick, on the Saturday evening.

MXlarge: That must have been a few days after your birthday?

Everts: Yes. I started feeling a fever and was really cold, so I took some pills at home and then a couple of days later I went to the doctor and he said it was some kind of flu. So he gave me some pills, but the day after I just got worse and worse and he said something is wrong, we need to go to the emergency. So this happened Saturday night and Tuesday, Kelly brought me to the emergency and I don’t even remember that. I was in the hospital Tuesday and Wednesday and they found I had malaria. They checked my blood to give me the right antibiotics. The doctor told me I had a very high percentage of malaria in my blood, something like 25%. That is the highest you can get, but it dropped really fast to 4%, but it was too late for all my organs, because all the parasites, which are in the mosquito, they started attacking my liver and my kidney. Because I have no spleen, the spleen usually a cleaner, cleans out the bad things, but the parasite attack your red blood cells and they start to put your system upside down and it’s hard for the blood cells to pass through the feet and hands. Wednesday afternoon things got a lot worse, and they decided to take me to another hospital in Leuven. That was a lucky thing to do, because they put all the machines on me and they finally said it was up to me and my body to come through this.

MXlarge: So they put you into a coma state?

Everts: Yes, they did. I was for two weeks in a coma.

MXlarge: You often hear about people in a coma state and trying to stay alive. Do you remember anything from that period?

Everts: No, I can’t really remember anything, its blank. It was more a drama for friends and family, seeing me laying there. My hands and everything were really cold and there was a risk I could lose my fingers and my feet. When they started to give me medicines to get all my blood to my heart, to recover the kidney and liver, because that was threatening my life, it meant even less blood circulation to my feet and my hands, and that is what I am struggling with that the moment. They are all fine, my 10 fingers are all still alive, but yes, that is a struggle at the moment. I am not sore, but my fingers are not flexible anymore and I need to get that back.

MXlarge: Is the prognosis that you will come back to 100% health?

Everts: Maybe not 100%, but yes, you know, all the skin came off my hands and also my feet the skin is coming off. My small toes, are partly not alive anymore and the doctor will decide if some of them have to come off, but that will take a few more months.

MXlarge: I know you are a positive guy and you have come out of this, and the love you must have received from your family and friends, but also the motocross community, that must have given you a lot of emotion?

Everts: Yes, sure, I was very surprised all the messages I got from around the World and also my close friends and family. I can’t remember much of it, but they slowly started waking me up, maybe every day half an hour or something like that. I remember some people standing next to my bed. It is a bit weird, because it is a mess inside my head, some things I was mixing up. I saw Liam (Stefan’s son) with a ponytail and earrings, somebody showed me a photo of Miley (Stefan’s daughter) and I said it was somebody else. All the medicines and the coma, did that. They also thought maybe I had some issues with my brain, but they have done tests and my brain is good, no damage anywhere. Lucky that is all good.

MXlarge: I can imagine at the moment, you are just happy to be recovering and not thinking too much about anything else. Is that true?

Everts: Yes, that is true. It isn’t like before when I raced which race I come back. The doctors, family and friends, everyone says take your time, and I really need to take my time, because with my feet, they hurt a lot at some moments. It is going better now, but this is the most important thing now.

MXLarge: I can imagine that this has changed your outlook to life. You are a perfectionist, and I know you mentioned how you have been hard on Liam in the past. Has that changed a bit now with this, do you appreciate simple things more maybe?

Everts: At the beginning, at the start, when I started coming back, yes, I see things different now. I think I want to bring down my pace. I was going really fast through life. Some things you don’t stand still enough with it and enjoy moments. For sure, I am going to try and enjoy my time with my family more, with my kids and Kelly. So from that side, yes, some things have changed in my mind. The pressure on my kids, that is also going to be a little bit less.

MXlarge: It’s funny, but I know the toughest periods in my life, my divorce and the passing of both my parents were periods where afterwards really positive things happened in my life. I guess that aspect of taking a positive from a negative situation.

Everts: Yes, that is the way it goes. If everything is good, you just do your own thing, but when something bad happens, you think more and things change. I think also the older you get, the more you change.

MXlarge: Well, as I said, it is nice to be talking with you after such a horrible experience.

Everts: It was close, very close, but I think my time wasn’t there yet. I was lucky I had a fit body, I was still working a lot with my fitness and that helped me. What surprised me the most was when the doctor told me I was the first one he knew who survived malaria at such a high level? That was a shock and I got very emotional days after that and I was so happy to see family and friends.

MXlarge: I know it isn’t really a priority, but when will we see Stefan Everts back at the motocross? Can you leave the house yet?

Everts: I am actually in a special clinic since New Year, where they do revalidation, where you can work on your fitness, or their problems. There are all kinds of sick people here, broken backs, or lost a leg, or heart problems. You see a lot of people with serious problems.

MXlarge: How long do you have to stay there?

Everts: Yes, today I got the news I can go home. I was home on weekends, but now I can stay home, and work from home and have somebody help me there.

MXlarge: Thanks for talking Stefan, I think it is good for people to know how you are doing and how the recovery is going.

Everts: Yes, I think it will be a happy end, maybe some things will be a little different from now on, but most important is I am still alive. I will hopefully be at Valkenswaard.


1/26/2019 11:32 AM

Good to read.


1/26/2019 11:40 AM

Best thread in a long while, thanks for sharing!


1/26/2019 1:44 PM

Horrible disease, thanks for sharing and best of luck to SE72



1/26/2019 2:20 PM

While I knew he was in tough shape, being put into a coma .. I have to say I did not realize that he was so close to death, seeing that nobody else had ever survived it being that far sick. What a great story and recovery.


1/26/2019 2:24 PM

Everts’ athletic history and conditioning likely saved his life. So glad he made it thru that horrible disease.


1/26/2019 6:44 PM

Man, that's some tough shit.