WWE
Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com 29d

Ric Flair's new lease on life

WWE

Ric Flair's recent health scare had the WWE legend on the brink of death, but after a seemingly miraculous recovery over the past few weeks, he has slowly returned to the public eye.

After an interview with People was released earlier this week, Flair called into The Dan Le Batard Show on Thursday to promote his new book, "Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte" and give an update on where things stand.

As you'd expect, Flair, 68, was candid from the beginning, opening up about his lengthy battle with alcoholism and how it nearly cost him his life.

"Ten days on life support, it'll wake you up, man," Flair said. He ran down his average intake, dating back to the peak days of his career traveling the country in the National Wrestling Alliance at, "Between 3,700 and 4,000 calories worth of booze -- soda or a splash of cranberry -- every day. Like 20 drinks a day."

Flair's battle for his life started somewhat innocuously in mid-August, as he complained to his fiancée Wendy Barlow about stomach pain.

"I got sick," said Flair. "I had eaten some raw oysters and I told Wendy I didn't feel right," said Flair. "She took me over to the hospital on the 11th of August, and by the 14th I was on life support."

Flair's condition was startlingly serious, although he admitted there were lighthearted moments between he and his caregivers after he got through the worst of the medical scares.

"They told my kids that everything had shut down -- kidney failure, congestive heart failure, everything shut down," said Flair. "The joke was, with the doctors, that the only thing that was alive and kicking, sitting at the bar waiting for me, was my liver.

"What I remember was that I couldn't talk, but I could hear people talking about me," said Flair. "Which is even scarier."

Even once he was out of a medically induced coma, Flair was far from out of the woods. Once he awoke, Flair had to deal with being immobilized as his doctors tried to help him continue to heal.

Being confined to a bed did not suit Flair at all, and the staff had to take drastic measures.

"They tied me down like Jack Nicholson in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' they had me tied down to the bed. I remember I said to this one guy, 'Do you know who I am?' and he said, 'Yeah, you're Mr. Ric.' I told him, 'I'll give you $500 if you take off these restraints.'"

Despite admitting the severe issues he's had with alcohol, Flair pointed out that it had all been centered around living the life and the persona of Ric Flair, the character he had created, to the fullest. It was less about the need to drink, and more about the attention and adoration that came with being out at bars, restaurants and other social outings where he'd be after shows.

"You've seen movies where the guy's got the little pint of liquor hidden someplace in his closet or drawer, or he's carrying around a flask, where he just has to have the bottle there. I never, in my life, have drank at home, alone. The social part, that was me."

If this health scare was somehow not enough to force Flair to swear off alcohol for the rest of his life, an anecdote that his daughters shared about something that happened during Ric's worst moments was another sobering reminder.

"My daughters told me that [the doctor] said to go in and say goodbye to your daddy, he's not going to make it."

There's still a long road to go ahead of Flair. He's had a pacemaker installed, and he'll need a colostomy bag for the next six months. But he's up and about, doing physical therapy and rehab to work on improving his motor skills after his long stretch on life support.

With a new lease on life, Flair could only convey thanks to everyone who helped him in his most dire moments.

"I'm happy for the people who put up with my bulls--- over there, because I was hard to get along with, man," said Flair. "You're sitting there, pushing a button to get someone to help you, you can't go to the bathroom and you need someone to walk with you. I'm lucky that I had a congenial crew to work with that liked me as well."

As the interview wound toward a close, co-host Sarah Spain asked a question that's weighed on a lot of minds over the past few weeks.

"Can you be Ric Flair and not be drinking and being the life of the party?" asked Spain, and Flair wasted little time in giving his one word response.

"Yes."

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