A pounding headache woke Angie Aparo early one April morning last year. A bout of nausea followed, sending him to the toilet. The pain was so severe; he was frightened. But he’d had his annual physical just two months earlier that showed he was in fine health as he approached his 55th birthday. He hoped an adjustment by his chiropractor might alleviate his discomfort.
Driving the same silver 2003 Honda Pilot that had taken him hundreds of thousands of miles up and down the East Coast playing his folksy rock songs on stages in bars, concert halls and festivals everywhere, the musician was listening to the radio as he pulled into the chiropractor’s parking lot. Suddenly the car radio went silent and the pain stopped.
Angie had suffered a spontaneous carotid artery dissection — a tear in one of the main conduits for blood flow through the neck to the brain. A blood clot had formed and pieces of it had entered his brain, shutting off the world around him.
The Atlanta singer/songwriter whose songs had been recorded by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw had lost his ability to communicate. Aphasia had robbed his ability to recall the names of everyday objects. All the lyrics he’d written over the decades vanished from his memory.