General Hospital’s Tyler Christopher Tells All About the Traumatic Brain Injury That Led His Doctor to Admit, ‘I Don’t Think He’s Going to Make It’
Thhankfully, the daytime alum proved everyone wrong.
When Tyler Christopher opened up about his issues with alcohol on State of Mind, even longtime fans were shocked at how honest he was with his former General Hospital castmate, Maurice Benard (Sonny). For one thing, Nikolas’ original portrayer admitted, he’d flatlined three times between alcohol poisoning and going through withdrawal.
But that wasn’t all. Christopher also suffered a traumatic brain injury, and that almost caused a fate that could have been worse than death.
It happened, the actor said, when he fell and hit his head on the edge of the bathtub. His skull, as explained, “exploded.” It cut the back of his head, and what that happens, “your blood has to go somewhere. But if it’s on your brain, what ends up happening is pressure builds up. It has nowhere to go.”
The doctors had to perform a craniotomy, which is essentially an operation in which they drill holes in the skull to let the bleeding out and allow the pressure to decrease. It was, as anyone could imagine a horrific, traumatizing experience not just for Christopher, but also his loved ones. And though the surgeon saved his life, it didn’t sound like he made it any easier for anyone.
“Halfway through the surgery,” the General Hospital and Days of Our Lives alum shared, “the neurosurgeon comes out in front of my then-wife and most of my family. The surgeon said, ‘I don’t think he’s going to make it.’ Told my family that, in the middle of the surgery. Why would you? Why? I don’t know why you would do that.”
It didn’t get much better, even after Christopher survived. The doctor filled the family in, but then told them that the actor would essentially be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life, unable to walk, talk, eat and perhaps most horrifyingly, remember anything. With someone else, maybe that would have been true, but the surgeon completely underestimated his patient’s will to come back from this.
“I remember when my memories started to come back,” Christopher said, “and I’m lying there in the hospital bed, and I just made a decision. ‘I am going to survive this.'”
He started working hard and shocked everyone by walking again within a week. That, though, was just the literal first steps of his recovery. He had another month left in the ICU before he was physically strong enough to leave, then another three months of grueling neurorehab.
“My memories started to come back,” he explained, and “my speech started to come back.” It wasn’t just basic functionality he was fighting for, though. Christopher was determined to return to the life that he had led before. And all that hard work paid off. “I was able to walk without a limp. It took four months.”
That was a far, far cry from the neurosurgeon claiming that Christopher wasn’t going to survive, and if he did, he’d never be able to function on any real level again. Just seeing him sit and explain this all to Benard was an incredible testament to his strength and resilience. And he’s even able to view it with just a touch of wry humor.
“It’s been an interesting two years of my life,” he chuckled gently. “That’s all I can say.”
Take peek at Nikolas’ horrible extended family with the Cassadine family photo album.