Stefan Everts (46) is again at home, two months after he was due to malaria was taken and his life had to fight. ‘I returned for a second life, ” says the tenfold world champion motocross.
In early december broke Everts malaria. A result of a short trip to the Congo, where he is in the middle of november to a liefdadigheidsrace had participated stung by a malaria mosquito. The beginning of …
In early december broke Everts malaria. A result of a short trip to the Congo, where he is in the middle of november to a liefdadigheidsrace had participated stung by a malaria mosquito. The beginning of a nightmare, as it turned out afterwards. A nightmare in which ‘The Legend’ two weeks in an artificial coma, was taken. His life was hanging by a thread hung.
At the beginning of January if Everts the UZ Leuven are already exchanged for the rehabilitation service in Pellenberg. And today he received a few weeks earlier than expected – also there the green light to the door behind him to close to pull. “During my rehabilitation, I have been several times during the weekend at home. That was a nice change, ” says Everts. “But this feels really like coming home. Now we form a real family. Because the last months were hell. Especially for Kelly and the children, because I have the most is not even consciously experienced. They have a huge need to process. I have admired how Kelly it’s all in good jobs can lead. I feel lucky to have such a strong woman.”
You are going to the rehabilitation center Pellenberg so don’t miss out?
“No, not really (laughs). But the other patients. The house atmosphere was very good. Also, I can only but praise about the medical staff. Both in Pellenberg if the UZ in Leuven and the Jessa Hospital in Hasselt. I am all those people énorm grateful. They have me super provided me fantastic guidance and to me it dragged. But home is still plezanter. With wife and children, in your familiar environment. Delicious.
“All I will here also need to continue to work. Because the rehabilitation does not stop. On the contrary, I still have a long way to go. Believe me: I’m never so far to return. After two weeks of coma, everything was gone. I was ten pounds lighter and I was already beyond ‘fat’. I also had no muscle strength. I could not even lift my arm to switch on the radio. I had to re-learn to swallow, to re-learn the steps… in the Meantime, may I again very much, but those muscles are still weak. (Shows his muscles) Look, that used to be thick balloons, now it is just dad (laughs). I can quietly walk but really steps on an unpaved surface does not. That is now my first goal: to re-smooth it, so that I with Liam to the cross.”
The malaria permanent damage left behind?
“My toes are the biggest problem. That are still black, because there is no blood flow was more. That malaria parasite had my red blood cells are completely destroyed. My fingers were also originally so, but they have fairly quickly restored. There is a new sheet has grown. Very soft, just a babyvelletje (laughs). With my toes, however, it is a lot slower. Who do also still have pain. Such a niggling nerve pain. It is sometimes bearable, sometimes not. As if there were millions of ants in it. Now yes, that are the nerves and blood vessels that come to life.’
Keep in mind that it is not more good will with those toes?
“Yes. The doctors are always very honest and clear in been. It may be that we have a toe, multiple toes, or bits of it must be amputated. That comes to, you know. But I have that quickly. I have damn the severest form of malaria survived. If you have to choose between your life or a few toes, then the choice is quickly made. In addition, we will go there at this moment that the toes will recover. Very slow indeed. We win millimetre per millimetre. That can still take a few months.’
When you were in coma, you also have an organ failure and there was a schedelboring need to press your brain to be measured. Has that all good is restored?
‘In the beginning there was fear of brain damage, but I now a lot of tests and my brain appear to be okay. Only my far sight is a little bit less, but that is something that the last few years, to the manifest. That is nothing new. And my organs are functioning well again. In short: on my toes, I am very well come true. I feel fortunate, because there are people in the rehabilitation centre who are much less fortunate.’
Do you remember the day that malaria that broke out?
“Yes. We were in a restaurant in Brussels, when I suddenly chills. In no time I felt very bad. I could not even drive the car. That night was very heavy. Fever, sweating… My bed was soaking wet. At first I thought to a strong flu, but then a day later even worse, my doctor put me immediately to the emergency room sent. And from that moment, I know nothing more. I remember even more that I was in the hospital in Hasselt have arrived. The following weeks are a big blind spot. I know that, only heard tell.’
In that period fought you for your life. What went through your head when you get out of your artificial coma, was taken off?
‘From those first days, I remember only fragments. It was very emotional. Certainly, when I was Kelly, the children and my parents saw. When his tears rolled, yes. I was extremely tired and very confused. They had me volgepompt with medication, so that was a kind of withdrawal. I’ve experienced a lot of nightmares had. Hallucinations also. I saw the people around my bed and in other forms. I complained the whole time about the bulldozer next to my room, but that was just the air conditioning. I had from my hospital bed on one side, with views to the… Melbourne. And I have Liam, even with a ponytail and earrings seen. I was against Kelly even said that I nevertheless but not like it (laughs).
“I was all the north is lost. Bizarre hey? Gradually it got better. After a few days is one of the professors with me come and talk to you: you are the first here this form of malaria has survived, ” he said. When I realized how serious it all was. I was not well, you know.’
As an ex-professional athlete to have a trained body. Was that your great good fortune?
“The professors think so. At a certain moment, had the doctors done everything possible and had my body the rest do it themselves. Problem was that I have no spleen any more. That is, together with the liver is a kind of filter. But because my spleen was missing that malaria parasite instantly free game been making that shot all over my body could spread. Everything fell silent. Daddy told me this week that I first days ice-cold to the touch. Death almost. He was really in shock, feared the worst. Luckily, I was still in good shape and I have a very strong heart. Otherwise… (swallows). It is actually quite strange. I know there are all nothing of, but apparently I was very hard fought. Well, weeds don’t die (laughs).’
Have you ever had the question gestled ‘Why me’?
‘But it’s not. Self-pity doesn’t help me move forward. I hate to be unhappy. I’m only shocked when I got to my toes the first time I saw. I know that I patient must. It is not a race against the clock, as in the past as a motorcrosser. Back then I was fighting fit for the first GP. Now, I can quietly build up.
“You know, I have through this whole process an important lesson learned: I will from now on enjoy more of life. The speed in my life was high, it was too hectic of all. Now, take that race in the Congo. I was only a day back from holiday and left again. That is the adventurer in me. And it was also for charity. Then I rarely say no. All I go now and still a lot more to do, I think. It is exactly as if I am returned for a second life. I have to be more of learning to enjoy.”
About Congo spoken, you go ever again?
‘Um, for now I nevertheless apply. I want to first process. Especially mentally. Though I must admit that those few days in the Congo is very amusing. Fine people, great race, lots of money raised for the charity. Short but powerful and almost… fatal. By such a stupid mug, say.’
You Had your precautions taken?
“I have, I don’t know how often insect repellent smeared. (Sigh) But I have no pointing with the finger taken. Because they told me that that was not necessary. All the blame I something no one. It is my own fault. Thierry Klutz (the rider who had asked me to go to the Congo, editor’s note) also feels responsible. He should not do. I have made the decision to go, I have those pills are not taken. Mea culpa. Point.’
How were Liam and Mylee with it?
‘Mylee is only eight. They had told her that I was in a deep sleep was to be able to cure. But then she heard on tv that you can die of malaria. That was a hard blow for Mylee. Liam, who is fourteen, realized quite well what loos was. He was also a very emotional message on Instagram posted. Every time I read that, I get the crop into the throat. A strong little guy, Liam. He had at the same time, exams and didn’t have a single tube. Handsome.’
You’re just at home, but sees Liam for only a short time. He leaves for a training camp to Spain. Sad, isn’t it?
‘That was planned and he should just do it. It is also but for three days hey, I see him already back. For the time being, daddy (four-time world champion Harry, ed) my tasks were taken over, but I hope that I will be again soon a flash and runs to Liams training sessions and matches.’
From your bed and sent you a few weeks ago a message: this is my biggest win ever.
“Absolutely. Albertyn, Bervoets, Tortelli, Smets, Pichon… I have a lot of pain competitors opposed. But that fade at all compared to my last rival. A stupid mosquito with the malaria parasite. My smallest in terms of stature at least – competitor ever. But, oh, so strong. But also that I have small. You may therefore feel free to my eleventh world title.’