Sunday, October 26, 2008

Got two today....

Told he’d never speak again, singer releases new CD


Singer, songwriter and Somerville resident, Jason Crigler, suffered a brain hemorrhage four years ago and nearly died while performing on stage. Doctors didn’t give him much hope to survive. He did. The doctors told his family he wouldn’t walk again. He learned to walk again. The doctors said he would never speak again. It took him 18 months of intense rehabilitation but he learned how to speak again.

Jason Crigler is a fighter and a survivor and he’s back to what he loves doing the most, playing the guitar, singing and performing.

He’s out with a new CD called “The Music of Jason Crigler,” and there is also a documentary out about Jason’s life and traumatic prognosis and recovery from the hemorrhage. The award-winning film is entitled, “Life. Support. Music.

Crigler suffered from AVM, which stands for Arterio-Venous Malformation on Aug. 4, 2004. AVM is a collection of abnormal blood vessels in the brain, which then burst, like an aneurysm.

“I was playing a gig and after the first couple of songs all of a sudden things got really weird – everything sounded and felt very distant. It got so freaky I had to leave the stage. Thank God my wife Monica was there. I couldn’t hear anything. I finally lay down on the ground and that’s the last thing I remember for a year and a half. It was like a Twilight Zone episode.”

Though Crigler has no recollection of any memory between August 2004 and Christmas 2005, it was a very stressful fifteen months on his family, including his pregnant wife. Wife Monica is from Massachusetts and decided to return home because she needed the help during her pregnancy while taking care of her husband. The medical bills reached more than a million dollars.

Friends, such as singer, Norah Jones helped the Criglers to raise money in paying medical costs.

“I was an in-patient for a year just lying in bed and then spent 10 months of rigorous rehab at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston,” said Crigler. “After suffering from my brain injury, I had to endure other surgeries as complications arose with my mouth, eyes and teeth.”

The rehabilitation is never-ending and though he doesn’t go quite as much as he did before, he still needs rehab every once in a while for his fingers in gripping a guitar. He also finds he gets fatigued a little easier than when he did before. However, he’s very happy to be back and knows how lucky he is.

“I’m blessed to have a great wife, a great daughter in Ellie, who is now 3½-years-old, a great family, great friends, and I love living in Somerville.”

Crigler really does enjoy being back on stage.

“My connection to music feels so much stronger than what it did before. I used to be so self-critical of myself but I get so much more self-satisfaction in performing my music ever since my injury.”

Crigler is performing Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge at 6 pm on Saturday, Nov. 1, and he plays in New York City on Nov. 19.

The CD “The Music of Jason Crigler” is available at Amazon and at




What is an Arterio-Venous Malformation (AVM)?
Under normal circumstances blood flows from the heart, under high pressure, through arteries which become progressively smaller until it reaches the cells where oxygen is absorbed. The deoxygenated blood then flows back to the heart via progressively larger veins. The pressure in the veins is lower than that in arteries. An AVM is a malformed area of blood vessels where the artery feeds blood directly to the vein without passing through the cells first. This means the pressure in those veins is higher than normal. This leads to wear and tear on the vessels over time until they rupture. Most patients do not know they have an AVM until it ruptures. AVM's can be found throughout the body but are most common in the brain.
AVM's are a congenital defect i.e. people are born with them. They are not generally considered to be hereditary but there are cases where they run in families and there are some rare conditions e.g. Cowden's Syndrome which include AVM's.

Some AVM's may cause symptoms such as severe headaches, blurred vision, partial paralysis or speech problems, due to pressure affecting the brain around the AVM, but many people have no warning before the AVM ruptures. Upon rupture there is commonly extreme headache, some loss of function, collapse and possibly rapid death. If any symptoms are present URGENT medical attention is required. Diagnosis may be confirmed by CT (Computer-assisted Tomography) scan in the case of a bleed, angiogram in which dye is injected into the blood vessels so they show up on xray (considered to give best results), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or by analysis of a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to detect blood (Lumbar Puncture). The method used will often depend upon the availability of suitable equipment.

Options include surgical removal, radiation therapy to shrink the AVM, embolization (filling the AVM with a glue like substance) to cut off the blood flow and prevent rupture or a combination of these. The best option depends on many factors such as size and location, if it has ruptured, severity of symptoms, etc. Choice of treatment must be made in consultation with your specialist.

This is a very basic introduction to AVMs. For further information go to the medical sites in our links page.

Newcastle Aneurysm and Arterio-Venous Malformation Support Group

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