Drake White Reveals He’s Being Treated for a Brain AVM
After collapsing onstage in Roanoke, Va., on Friday night (Aug. 16), Drake White is opening up about the health condition he was diagnosed with earlier this year. The country singer-songwriter has an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
People shared the news of White's diagnosis, which he received in January, on Wednesday (Aug. 21). Having an AVM means that the arteries and veins in his brain are tangled, which disrupts blood flow. “It was basically stealing blood from my brain,” White explains; had the condition gone undiscovered, it could have caused a stroke.
White began experiencing the health issues that led to his diagnosis last winter. While at home in Nashville, he developed a lasting headache that caused him to see spots in his left eye and caused numbness on the left side of his body. "I tried to sleep it off but woke up with the same intense headache," White recalls, so he and his wife Alex went to the hospital.
White had an MRI and an angiogram, which gave doctors a picture of his internal organs and blood vessels -- and then, he waited. “The true nightmare is having something wrong with you and not knowing what it is. Nobody could tell me what was wrong," he says, admitting that in the days between the testing and when doctors diagnosed him, "I definitely had some ‘Oh s--t’ moments on the side of my bed at two in the morning.”
White's doctors believe he's been living with his AVM since birth, and have been performing a series of embolization procedures, which will cut off blood flow in the affected area. The most recent procedure took place on Aug. 12, four days before his collapse in Virginia; it's unclear if the incident was related to the procedure.
“He has to space them out due to my brain being used to the amount of blood flow for 35 years,” White explains. "If he had embolized the whole mass in one surgery, it would cause major problems with my mobility and maybe a stroke.”
According to White, the procedures have "knocked out 75 percent of the mass," and he hopes the condition will be completely gone by the end of 2019. He's been keeping his touring schedule going around the procedures -- it's been "very therapeutic to me," White says -- but after Friday's incident, he'll be taking it a little easier.
“From the moment I found out, I refused to see it as a problem. Rather, I chose to let it inspire me and help others. I have to think I’ve been going through all of this for a reason,” White confesses. “Everyone is going through something. You have to treat every person like it could be their last day.
"Not to be all sunshine and rainbows," he adds, "but all of this made me appreciate all that I have and all that is to come.”
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