Addressing the media on Sunday morning at Auto Club Speedway, Brian Vickers announced that he will be out for at least three months due to a re-occurrence of blood clots.
“Needless to say, it’s pretty frustrating, but I’ve been here before,” he commented, having experienced them twice before. “That’s life and you just have to keep fighting and not give up. Just keep pushing for it and you never know what tomorrow holds. This weekend, coincidentally has been about partnering with Janssen to raise awareness about clots. The month of March is Clot Awareness Month and this is not quite how I wanted to raise awareness about clots, but here we are. From my perspective, this has been a passion of mine now for five years and there’s no reason for it to stop being a passion just because it’s not convenient at the moment.
“Right now I really want to take this opportunity to leverage this platform and this microphone to continue to raise awareness about clots, the issues, the signs, the symptoms, the warning signs and really encourage people to go see their doctor. Maybe I should have gone straight to the doctor when I got off the plane, but I didn’t wait two days, I waited an hour and I went. I’m glad I did because it could have turned into a serious problem and it didn’t because I went to go see my doctor and that’s what made the difference.”
Vickers had blood clots during both the 2012 and 2013 season, forcing him to miss races. He missed the first two events of this season as a result of heart surgery during the off-season. During his time off in 2012, an artificial patch was inserted to repair a hole in his heart. The patch was rejected by the heart, forcing Vickers to undergo heart surgery in early December to make repairs. He drove for MWR at Las Vegas and Phoenix, posting season-high 15th at Las Vegas.
As part of his address to the media, he explained how he became aware of the clots on Thursday while flying to the race.
“I had a little bit of pain in my chest when I was taking deep breaths and I spent half the flight trying to convince myself that I bumped into something along the way,” he commented. “I think deep down I kind of had an idea of what it was. Unfortunately, I knew what that feeling was and that kind of sharp pain on and off when you take deep breaths. We landed in LA and it wasn’t too bad at that point.”
Vickers said that he “probably didn’t do the smartest thing” as he checked himself into the hotel, trying to convince himself that it was something else. However, after pacing the room for a few minutes and becoming more worried, he made the decision to go to the local hospital and get checked out.
“I walked in and told them exactly what to look for and where to look and requested a CT scan and all the things,” Vickers said. “We went through that process. We went to the UCLA hospital in Santa Monica and I can’t say enough about their staff, their doctors, their nurses – they treated us absolutely amazing, they were great. Unfortunately, on the CT scan, I did have small clots. It was still early stage. I did mostly listen to my own advice, which was to go to the doctor as soon as you think something is wrong. I probably could have gotten there a few hours sooner than I did, but I did get there pretty early so we caught it. I had small blood clots in both lung.”
Moving forward, there are concerns that the re-occurrence of blood clots could result in Vickers’ racing career coming to an end. He admitted that he is worried about that being a possibility, but he hasn’t given up hope. He says he was able to find a way before to get off blood thinners and return behind the wheel, and will be looking to work with his doctors once again to see whether that’s possible.
“The funny thing is I’ve been told now three times that I’ll never race again and I’ve raced the last two weeks,” he commented. “I’ll never give up and listen, if it comes to that, then I’ll move on to the next thing in life. I’ve always felt this way, I still feel this way today sitting here. I love racing more than any other activity. I don’t love it more than my wife, who takes good care of me, or my family or my friends, but it’s not who I am, it’s something that I do, something that I love doing. There’s more to life than just this. I think keeping that perspective is important, but it’s also my favorite thing to do in the world. I want to try to come back.”
Part of the process will be figuring out with his hematologist what caused the clots as he says any previous clots he has had “have been provoked by some particular event”.