Losing a country music star like Eric Church at just 41 years old would be a tragedy.
But, as the singer just revealed in a new interview, we came very close to losing Church forever last year.
The "How 'Bout You" singer shared his near-death experience, and it's a wild ride from start to finish.
"I had five out of five symptoms."
The first sign that anything was wrong with Church came last June, when he noticed "tingling" in his hands on stage.
"I just associated it with nerves. I didn't think it was anything," he told Rolling Stone in a cover story for their August issue.
But after wrapping up his concert tour and heading home to North Carolina, the singer noticed he wasn't getting any better.
"I was watching the College World Series and texting about golf and this hand was not responding like it should," he remembered.
"So I peeled my shirt off and went in the bathroom, and my arm was noticeably red and enlarged."
On a whim, Church did a Google search for thrombosis, the kind of blood clot that is often caused by airplane travel, and realized he had "five out of five symptoms."
Church found himself in a terrifying situation: his wife was in Nashville, and his two young sons were at home with him.
Leaving them with a nanny, Church drove himself to the nearest hospital.
"I said, 'Can it kill me?' And he said, 'Today.'"
The hospital sent Church for an ultrasound at a clinic 25 minutes away. He drove off, this time with an IV plugged into his arm to control the symptoms.
"By this time, it's near 5 a.m. I was thinking about my family and kids, and how I wanted to make it back home," he said.
The ultrasound revealed church had a blood clot in his chest, apparently caused by a birth defect that pinched his blood vessels between a rib and his collarbone.
"There's a major vein that runs through there, and when I would raise my arm, it would pinch it and damage the vein," he explained.
"The clot was where it tried to heal. But it kept backing up, backing up. And like any clot, when you get enough pressure, it's gonna blow."
Doctors insisted that Church needed emergency surgery, and the musician says he didn't realize how bad his case was at first.
"I said, 'Can it kill me?' And he said, 'Today.' And I said, 'I need to make a phone call.'"
"That was really when it hit me. To them, I was going to die."
An ambulance raced church to another hospital, because doctors feared a helicopter trip could spike his blood pressure and kill him.
Church had been awake for 36 hours when his surgery finally began.
"They took me into the ICU and I thought, 'OK, I'm gonna go to bed, get up in the morning and do this thing,'" he remembered.
"But when I walk in the room, the surgical team is there and the (doctor's) in scrubs. He says, 'We're gonna go now.' That was really when it hit me. To them, I was going to die."
The surgery was a success, but Church needed a second one just a week later to remove his top rib.
Despite the strain, stress, and the intensive rehab he needed to get back in shape, Church was touring again by September.
"It was an interesting summer," he said.
But it could have been much worse. Doctors say men in their 40s with Church's condition are usually found dead after the vein has burst.
While his nerves are still a little shaky, Church says he's in good condition today.
"I can still play guitar. And I play golf better than ever."
Sadly, Church also lost his brother Brandon last month. Hopefully there's some good news in the singer's future.
We're wishing Church and his family all the best!
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[H/T: Rolling Stone]