Please join us on Thursday, May 9, for the Brains Shouldn't Bleed Benefit Concert hosted by Tyler Fairbank.
My brain bleed was the worst thing, and best thing, that ever happened to me.
In May of 2017 I suffered from a CCM brainstem bleed. I had no idea I even had a CCM. I was 47 years old and on top of my world. I was a CEO of a company I was passionate about, I was the front man of a popular local blues/rock-and-roll trio, I was in the best shape of my life, could ski with the best of them, was an avid downhill mountain bike rider and felt somewhat invincible. Then things changed dramatically. On May 20, 2017 I went to my son's college graduation and started seeing double. The next day I went to the local ER only to learn that I had a CCM. I fell from grace that day, soon tumbling to the lowest point I had ever reached.
Over the following few weeks, I learned all about this thing called a CCM in my brain. I was told by 7 doctors, including some of the best in the world, that the location of my CCM made it far too risky for surgery. In essence, I had this monkey on my back forever. I was terrified. I learned all about the brainstem and its vital role in nearly all of the body’s functions, including heartbeat, breathing etc. I started thinking that in any moment I could die.....in my bed, in front of my kids, anywhere.....I could simply expire. It was like an ever-present game of Russian roulette and was immensely stressful and depressing. I went from being a guy on top of the world, to someone who did not want to live any more.
On July 6, 2017 I met Dr. Christopher Ogilvy. He was deeply empathetic and understood. Most importantly, he said he felt he could remove this CCM. Although the risks were high that I might not even make it through surgery, I knew in that moment that we were going forward with it. On July 19, I had a craniotomy and Dr. O successfully removed my CCM.
It has been one year since that event, and I am improving and well on my way back to being that guy on top of my hill. But I would argue, even better than before. I am not better than before because I have now rid my body of this CCM or gotten the monkey off my back, but because I have a new perspective on life. I am not talking about stopping to smell the roses more or some Pollyannaish view of the world. I have danced with the Devil and am here to tell about it. I am harder and softer. I love more and hate no more. I lead with my heart and my head. I am smarter and yet more sensitive. I associate better but don't judge. Stress plays a new and much subordinated roll in my life. I have read 24 books in the past year, listened to countless podcasts and watched an uncountable number of YouTube videos. I have a long, long life in front of me, and I am more well equipped to be wildly successful in the next phase of my life than I ever would have been otherwise.
I have made tremendous progress in just one year, yet I still have deficiencies. I get tired....no super fatigued....like you can't imagine...I can sleep for 12 hours and wonder how I am going to get out of bed. I have a vertigo sensation whenever I am vertical that slows me down. I still have some numbness in my face, hand and right side. My speech is still a work in progress. I am still under reconstruction, and I do everything I can every day to put myself in the best place possible, from nutrition and supplements, to working out, sleep, stress management and my human connections, I do it all. But I recognize that this vessel, my body, is just that, a vessel. I must take great care of it while here, but my spirit cannot be hampered. It is all about mindset. Physically, I am a work in progress, and may be for some time, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I am a force to be reckoned with. Now I know. That is why this crazy thing called a CCM is the best thing that ever happened to me.