Local guitarist and songwriter Rick Fowler, the founder and frontman of blues-rock group Rick Fowler Band, tells Flagpole he has been forced to cancel all shows for the next several months—including a performance at this year's AthFest—due to a recent stroke.
Fowler says he faced health concerns for nearly two years while waiting for the Affordable Care Act to take effect. Still, he stresses that the end result could have been worse. As Fowler writes in an email, he is optimistic that he is now on the mend:
I have been fighting dizziness, bouts of double vision and facial numbness now for almost two years. I went to several doctors and naturally, most said that I should be scanned. However, because I have Tourette syndrome (a pre-existing condition), I could not get good health insurance until the ACA was created. I could not afford the thousands of dollars worth of MRI, MRA, and other tests needed for a proper diagnosis. The symptoms became pretty disruptive this year.
Finally, I got good health insurance on May 1. I immediately sought answers for my symptoms. After a number of tests, it was determined that I have recently had a minor stroke and that I was at a very high risk for a major stroke because of severe intracranial stenosis. I was prescribed several medications, primarily to try to prevent a major stroke. I have a great neurologist here and I am also going to Emory for more evaluation. My hope is to reduce the arterial plaque through medication, a strict vegan diet, and exercise.
I had to cancel all gigs for the next few months because I am just too dizzy and having too many symptoms to feel that I can give a good performance. To further complicate things, our guitarist Michael Doke has just found himself temporarily unable to play due to a bad shoulder injury, partially resulting from a motorcycle accident. We simply don't need to try to play any more gigs until we both recover. I am thankful and overwhelmed by the kindness and understanding of everyone and I hope to be back on stage in a few months having a great time with my wonderful friends.
Flagpole's thoughts are with Fowler as he continues to recover. A replacement for his scheduled AthFest set on Sunday, June 22 on the Pulaski Street Stage is yet to be announced. Keep an eye on Homedrone and Threats & Promises for further news.