Country Singer Drake White Reveals He Has a Debilitating Brain Condition After Collapsing Onstage
By Paige Gawley
Danielle Del Valle/Getty Images
Drake White is opening up about his health.
In an interview published on Wednesday, the 35-year-old country singer revealed that he was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) back in January. According to Mayo Clinic, an AVM is "a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain" that can cause symptoms including brain hemorrhages, seizures, headache and muscle weakness.
White's reveal follows the quick end to a concert last week -- he's currently opening on Scotty McCreery's tour -- after he had a near fall on stage while performing in Roanoke, Virginia, according to a press release. He also canceled his scheduled show on Saturday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, before announcing in the press release that he's taking an extended period of time off and "will likely be rescheduling some of his upcoming shows in order to focus on his health and a full recovery."
"Hey my friends - I am beyond overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, prayers and good vibes the past few days. I’ve felt them all," he wrote following the cancellations. "I’m gonna take some time to rest up and I can’t wait to get back out there with y’all."
"It was basically stealing blood from my brain," White told People back in July, just weeks before he collapsed on stage. "The neurologist told me that I should be thankful it was caught in time, because it could have caused a stroke."
White's health woes began late last year when he developed a persistent headache that also created "numbness and sensory issues on the left side of his body," according to the press release.
"That morning, I had worked out and went to a lunch meeting, and that’s when the headache started," White recalled of the start of his health ordeal. "By 2 p.m. I was in bed seeing spots in my left eye, and that’s when my left side started going numb. I tried to sleep it off but woke up with the same intense headache."
"The true nightmare is having something wrong with you and not knowing what it is," he added of the doctor's initial response when he and his wife, Alex, went to the emergency room. "Nobody could tell me what was wrong."
What followed was an "excruciating" MRI and what White described as "some 'oh s**t' moments" prior to the diagnosis of his condition, something that, doctors said, he likely had since birth.
"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,'" White recalled of his AVM, which, according to the press release, was "tangled into the size and shape of a 'large ice cream cone."
"It was at that moment Alex and I said to each other that whatever it is, we would battle through it," he said. "Our faith went into overdrive."
Since his diagnosis, White has been undergoing embolization procedures in an effort to cut off blood flow to the affected vessels, the most recent of which was on Aug. 12. Following the treatment, White's doctor thinks they have "knocked out 75 percent of the mass." Despite having four treatments, White continued touring up until his collapse on stage earlier this summer.
"There was a show in April that I played 48 hours after surgery," he said. "And that was very therapeutic to me. 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."
Even through his health troubles, White has remained positive, telling the outlet that he is "adamant that once it's all done, I will be able to run faster and play guitar better and get Alex pregnant immediately."
"My attitude is better. 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 said. "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, but all of this made me appreciate all that I have and all that is to come."
As for why he decided to be open about his condition, White said it's in an effort to help others.
"I’m not telling this story for me. Someone needs to hear it and God wants me to share it," he said. "It will help people believe in miracles, and I will feel that energy. The world needs that kind of energy right now."
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, White gushed over his fans' support, writing, "Alex and I are still overwhelmed by your vibes and prayers, and, for now, I’m gonna keep resting so I can come back stronger than ever."