In August of 2004, Jason Crigler, one of New York’s most sought-after guitarists, suffered an AVM brain hemorrhage while playing a show in Manhattan. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors told Jason’s family, “Even if he lives through the night, there won’t be much left of the man you know.”
Jason’s pregnant wife and the rest of his family refused to accept the dire prognosis. Convinced that Jason was “there,” his family mounted an intensive and intimate course of rehabilitation that would force Jason’s doctors to reconsider the factors that inspire recovery.
Jason and his sister Marjorie have developed a powerful multimedia presentation that explains how and why Jason recovered. Drawing on their unique, personal experience, they show how intense family involvement makes the difference in a positive recovery. While Marjorie speaks from the family’s point of view, Jason offers a survivor’s perspective on the challenges he faced. The presentation closes with a live performance by Jason of his song “The Books on the Shelf,” which was the first song Jason wrote after recovering.
An arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, is an abnormal
In a healthy set-up, arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart and lungs to the rest of the body. After the oxygen has been delivered, veins bring blood back to the heart and lungs to pick up more oxygen.
To reach individual cells, the big thick arteries branch into smaller and smaller blood vessels, first arterioles and then capillaries. Being thin and narrow, capillaries help diffuse the pressure of blood coming from the arteries and pulsing into the veins. Blood leaving capillaries enters tiny venules and then larger veins which lead to the heart and lungs.
Where an AVM occurs, an artery connects to a vein without capillaries. As a result, the blood pressure in that area remains high. Sometime nothing happens. Other times, the walls of the AVM blood vessel weaken and break. If the hemorrhage occurs in the head, it is particularly dangerous. Because the skull cannot expand, parts of the brain may be squashed by accumulating blood. Many factors—including medical treatment, the location of the bleed, and the patient’s age and overall health—contribute to the brain’s ability to recover from an AVM hemorrhage.