Drake White is opening up about a health condition he has been quietly battling for months. The singer, who almost collapsed on stage while in Roanoke, Virginia. over the weekend, is now revealing he has arteriovenous malformation (AVM), an abnormal tangle of arteries and veins in the brain that disrupts normal blood flow.
“It was basically stealing blood from my brain,” White told PEOPLE. “The neurologist told me that I should be thankful it was caught in time, because it could have caused a stroke.”
While it is not clear whether the AVM is what caused White to stumble on stage, White has been undergoing a series of embolization procedures to cut off blood flow to the affected vessels, with his last one only days before his Roanoke show.
“[The doctor] has to space them out due to my brain being used to the amount of blood flow for 35 years,” White said, adding that he plans on being finished with the embolizations by the end of the year. “If he had embolized the whole mass in one surgery, it would cause major problems with my mobility and maybe a stroke.”
White hasn't let the procedures slow him down, keeping up with his rigorus touring schedule as much for himself as his fans.
“There was a show in April that I played 48 hours after surgery,” White recalled. “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.”
It was at the beginning of 2019 that White realized something was wrong, when he had a severe headache he couldn't get rid of, while at his Nashville home.
“That morning, I had worked out and went to a lunch meeting, and that’s when the headache started,” the Alabama native recounted. “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.”
When he realized the headache wasn't going to go away on its own, he went with his wife, Alex, to the emergency room, where even doctors were initially puzzled.
“The true nightmare is having something wrong with you and not knowing what it is," acknowledged White. "Nobody could tell me what was wrong.”
After having both an MRI and an angiogram, White met with a doctor who diagnosed the AVM, which he has likely had since birth.
"The next thing I know, there is a guy walking in with the word ‘neurologist’ on his nameplate," White recalled. "He told me, ‘You have a mass in the back of your head. It’s treatable, but it’s going to take a while.’ It was at that moment Alex and I said to each other that whatever it is, we would battle through it. Our faith went into overdrive.”
White wasn't eager to share his private battle with the public, but he felt compelled to let other people know that he believes it is his faith that has led him this far – and will keep leading him.
“I’m not telling this story for me,” White explained. “Someone needs to hear it and God wants me to share it. It will help people believe in miracles, and I will feel that energy. The world needs that kind of energy right now.”0comments
Photo Credit: Getty images / Tim Mosenfelder