There are many ways to describe legendary rocker Neil Young: folkie, activist, award-winner, eccentric are just a few that have been bantered about.
There’s also one more: aneurysm survivor.
In his new memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, Young discusses everything from the critically-acclaimed music he created to his early hard-partying lifestyle on the road to his personal life filled with struggles and rewards — including the diagnosis of and life after his 2005 aneurysm procedure.
Over the last few years, Young has been candid about his ordeal, describing the lead-up to his diagnosis, his problematic recovery and how it all has changed his life:
I noticed this weird thing in my eye, like a piece of broken glass. Then I noticed that no matter what I did, it was still there. And then it started getting bigger. … So I went to my doctor, had an MRI and the next morning I went to the neurologist … He says, “The good news is, you’re here, you’re looking good. The bad news is, you’ve got an aneurysm in your brain. You’ve had it for a hundred years, so it’s nothing to worry about – but it’s very serious, so we’ll have to get rid of it right away.
[T]wo days after the surgery, you can start walking – I went out for a walk, and I made it half a block, and the thing burst on the street, and there was blood in my shoe and … Let’s just say there was a complication. It was my femoral artery [which the surgeons had used to access his brain]. I was unconscious, and the emergency guys had to revive me.
He decided to do it sober after talking with his doctor about a brain that had endured many youthful pharmaceutical adventures, in addition to epilepsy and an aneurysm. For someone who smoked pot the way others smoke cigarettes, the change has not been without its challenges, as he explains in his book: “The straighter I am, the more alert I am, the less I know myself and the harder it is to recognize myself. I need a little grounding in something and I am looking for it everywhere.”