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Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker joins The Doctors to talk about surviving a plane crash and overcoming drug addiction.
In 2008, Travis was aboard a private flight from South Carolina to California with three close friends. The plane crashed during take-off -- two died in the fiery crash, but Travis and DJ AM escaped the wreckage. Travis was left with 2nd and 3rd-degree burns requiring 11 weeks in the hospital and multiple skin grafts.
Travis confesses that he was suicidal at points during those terrible weeks, but he pulled through thanks to the support of family and friends. Tragically, DJ AM, his fellow survivor, succumbed to drug addiction the following year. But Travis got clean and kept playing.
“You are a survivor!” Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon greets Travis – “Something like that,” Travis replies.
“You’ve had more experiences than most people will have in a lifetime,” adds ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork. “I know this has led you to live a life of health, a life focused on the things that matter.” Travis admits that he was leading a “wild rock and roll lifestyle” before the crash, and then the extent of his burns and injuries led doctors to tell him he would probably on medication for the rest of his life.
“Because you’ve been through such a horrific experience because you’re dealing with bipolar disorder, you’ll probably never play the drums again, you’ll never run again,” Travis was told. “Then the challenge was in my mind to prove them wrong.” He weaned himself off both street drugs and prescription medication, and began running and playing the drums immediately. “I think I’m probably healthier than I was before the accident,” he says now.
ENT Dr. Brain Weeks has been a longtime friend of Travis’ and knew him during his wildest phases. “He’s always been an unbelievable guy, but now his whole perspective has changed,” Dr. Weeks says. “I think maybe just a thankfulness that he survived and has a new chance.”
Dr. Weeks is not just Travis’ friend – he’s also treated him for a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. “It was terrible,” Travis recalls. “It felt like there was a lump in my throat.” At first, he thought it was an infection, but It soon progressed to difficulty swallowing and chronic burning.
Barrett’s esophagus, Dr. Weeks explains, is a precancerous condition in the throat caused by acid irritation. Travis had to change his diet and stop smoking marijuana and drinking coffee, as well as taking medication to treat the condition. “Anyone who has chronic reflux needs to know what this is,” notes Dr. Stork.
These days, Travis gets his “highs” in a healthier way. “I like running a lot, I like boxing,” he says. “And recording music!” Travis sometimes drums five hours a day!
“I’m healthier now than I was when I was 20 years old. I’m 41 right now and I’m 10 times healthier,” he concludes.