Dick Wagner had enjoyed a successful life on stage, playing lead guitar for bands like Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and Kiss, when he had a stroke and a heart attack in 2007."I woke up from a coma after two weeks with a paralyzed left arm," said Wagner, now 70 and living in Arizona. "My profession as a guitarist, I thought was over."
He and Cooper co-wrote the majority of the band's top-selling songs, including the 1975 hit, "Welcome to My Nightmare."But Wagner's own personal horror show had just begun. He worked hard at rehabilitation, but new symptoms began to appear: mental fuzziness and an odd gait."I couldn't turn to the left as I walked, only to the right, and I would do a spiral and fall," he said. "I fell completely flat on my face in the driveway on the concrete. I didn't know what had happened to me."
Another fall by his swimming pool precipitated a blood clot and surgery. Wagner was convinced his career was over.But in 2011, Wagner was diagnosed with NPH, or normal pressure hydrocephalus, a condition caused by a build-up of spinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain, which puts pressure on nerves that control the legs, bladder and cognitive function.
Doctors at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix surgically placed a shunt in his head to redirect the fluid through a tube under the skin to his abdominal cavity. A small amount is drained every day for the rest of his life.