"In 2004, Jason Crigler suffered a brain hemorrhage while playing guitar onstage in a New York City nightclub. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors gave Jason’s family a grim prognosis: even if he lives through the night, there won’t be much left of the man you know. But Jason’s pregnant wife and the rest of his family refused to accept the dire prediction. They were convinced that Jason could come back if given the chance." --Defying the Odds. Jason did manage to recover, and his story has been featured on PBS. We are pleased to share the following post that he wrote in honor of his 'second birthday.'
I've come to think of August 4th as a kind of second birthday. It was on this date, ten years ago, that I suffered a massive bleed in my brain while I was onstage performing with singer Sandy Bell and the rest of her band, which included Jeff Lipstein, John Mettam and Robin Macatangay. The eighteen months following that night, a period of time that I have no memory of, now feel to me like a giant dividing line, a gaping chasm between the person I was and the person I am now.
In essence, everything got reset. In so many ways, my current life feels like it started on August 4, 2004.
Over the past ten years I've often heard the word “recovery,” as in “are you fully recovered?” “how recovered would you say you are?” “how long was your recovery?” and so on.
Merriam-Webster's defines recovery as
1. To become healthy after an injury or illness
2. To return to a normal state after a period of difficulty
3. To get (something, such as an ability or feeling) again
4. To get back
5. To bring back to normal position or condition
I find it hard to answer the “recovery” question, because none of these definitions fit my perception of this experience. Years ago I stopped thinking that I would ever “get back” to where I was before the events of August 4, 2004. In my mind I have been forever altered.
To be totally honest, sometimes it's really hard to accept that. I remember having good times in the old days. A lot of you were the people I had good times with! Part of me really misses “that guy.”
Ultimately, though, I like who I am now. In fact, I think I like “me” more now than I liked “me” then. And who I am now is a direct result of what I've been through.
The “me” that is here now is left with several thoughts and feelings that have become truisms in my mind:
That our lives can change dramatically in the blink of an eye.
That our thoughts have substantial energy and power.
That force of will can create clear, dramatic change.
That true love is a very real and tangible force.
To all the many people out there who have suffered some form of severe injury or illness, I send my warm wishes and positive thoughts. Please keep going.
We all have to live with ourselves for our whole lives, and we're the only ones who do. It makes sense to get comfortable and try and enjoy the ride. As much as possible, anyway.
Demos Health has published several books on recovering from brain injury. They are available here.
More about Jason Crigler:
The guitar would become Jason Crigler's main vocation starting in the late 90's. As a sideman he has played and/or recorded with numerous artists, including John Cale, Marshall Crenshaw, Linda Thompson, Erin Mckeown, Teddy Thompson, and Ollabelle. In the early 00's, Jason's unique voice on the guitar caught the attention of various New York based filmmakers and production houses. Jason would go on to contribute music to a number of films, including Ashtanga, NY, Tending Fires, The Revolutionary Optimists, and the film short, Grand Street. He would also compose the music for numerous audio branding and ad campaigns. A few of his clients include General Electric, Blue State Digital, Frog Design, and FORGE Worldwide, among others.
Jason was playing the guitar onstage in 2004 when he had a massive brain injury that would put him out of action for two years. At first not expected to live, his love of the instrument would ultimately prove to be an invaluable tool for recovery, providing an essential motivation at a desperate time. The story of Jason's miraculous recovery is chronicled in the award-winning documentary, Life.Support.Music. Jason and his sister Marjorie now travel the country with their multimedia presentation Defying the Odds, speaking at schools, colleges, hospitals and other venues about the challenges of recovery.
In recent years Jason has composed music and sound elements for the original play Make Sure It's Me, as well as audio branding campaigns for clients such as the Fullbridge Program and the Center for Neuro Skills. He has also created music and sound design for numerous installations with the Boston based company Materials & Methods. Jason is on the faculty at the Porsmouth Music and Art Center and the Concord Community Music School where he teaches digital audio and recording technology as well as acoustic and electric guitar.