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Country Singer Drake White Reveals Rare Disease Diagnosis

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Country singer Drake White revealed he was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition arteriovenous malformation after he collapsed onstage during a recent concert.

Best known for songs like “Livin’ the Dream,” White told People in a new interview on Wednesday he was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in January. The rare neurological condition causes a mass of tangled blood vessels in the vascular system, which can cause bleeding in the brain and other symptoms such as seizures, loss of coordination, dizziness, confusion, hallucinations and ruptures. In White’s case, his doctors think he likely had the condition since birth.

“It was basically stealing blood from my brain,” White said. “The neurologist told me that I should be thankful it was caught in time, because it could have caused a stroke.”

White initially started experiencing symptoms in late 2018 after a headache wouldn’t go away and he started seeing spots on his vision. Then one side of his body went numb and he went to the emergency room when his symptoms didn’t improve. He had a series of tests, including an MRI. He said not having an answer for his scary symptoms was one of the most difficult parts of the process.

“The true nightmare is having something wrong with you and not knowing what it is. Nobody could tell me what was wrong,” White said. “The next thing I know, there is a guy walking in with the word ‘neurologist’ on his nameplate. He told me, ‘You have a mass in the back of your head. It’s treatable, but it’s going to take a while.’”

AVM is treatable using a series of embolization procedures to cut off blood flow to improper areas of the brain. In the last eight months, White said he’s had four procedures, which are spaced out to allow his brain time to adjust to changes in the amount of blood flow. White added his doctor thinks they’ve “knocked out 75% of the mass” and hopes it will be completely gone by the end of the year.

Four days after one more recent embolization, White was performing an Aug. 16 concert in Virginia when he started to stumble and collapsed onstage. After another procedure, White revealed he was already back up on stage two days after his procedure. While he’s trying to be extra careful, he said continuing to maintain his regular life and work as much as possible has been helpful to his recovery.

“There was a show in April that I played 48 hours after surgery and that was very therapeutic to me,” White told People. “Emotionally it made me realize that I could still do this. Maybe I wasn’t jumping around like I usually do, but I was doing it. … Not to be all sunshine and rainbows, but all of this made me appreciate all that I have and all that is to come.”

Header image via Drake White’s Facebook page

Originally published: August 21, 2019
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