ToquiNotes: After Greg Harrison's Second Brush with Death, He Welcomes New Perspective of Life

By Jeff Toquinto on September 02, 2017 from ToquiNotes via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Bridgeport’s Greg Harrison wants to come clean about something relating to an automobile accident that he was involved in back in May. He wasn’t on drugs and he wasn’t drunk.
 
Harrison, who has already stared death in the face, heard the rumblings and knew why – even though in the grand scheme of what had transpired it wasn’t even close the biggest hurdle he had ever faced. Greg Harrison as most of you know is in a band and plays music and the general school of thought by many is that a guy in the band had to be jacked up on something to have what happened to Greg Harrison.
 
Back on May 5, Harrison was in a car wreck. As it turned out it was a pretty significant one.
 
At around 7:30 p.m. that evening, Harrison was at the Meadowbrook Mall. In an instant, the Jeep he was driving had crashed into the BB&T bank. The car was mangled. Harrison, considering the look of the car, wasn’t.
 
“I tore my rotator cuff and had a fracture under my left eye,” said Harrison. “It wasn’t good, but you look at what happened and you know it could be worse. I woke up in the hospital. Again, I was lucky to survive.”
 
Again isn’t just a throw in word. Harrison had been there before, back in August of 2010. On that fateful evening, Harrison and friends were at a Main Street bar in Bridgeport when a fight broke out. Harrison, like others, was a spectator who would soon be an unwilling participant and victim.
 
As he stood outside, perhaps with his hands in his pocket, he got punched out of nowhere. He never saw it coming.
 
This wasn’t your typical bystander getting hit situation. The hit to Harrison’s skull did more than knock him out – it fractured his skull and one of the two main arteries in his brain busted open. As he lay on the sidewalk, Greg Harrison was dying as he was bleeding inside his skull.
 
CPR and neurosurgery, where surgeons opened his brain because of the swelling, saved his life. Still, for 11 days, Greg Harrison lay in a hospital bed in a coma. When he awoke he was confused, angry and dealing with serious short-term memory loss – an issue he carried with him since.
 
Still, life for the most part had progressed to being normal. He was his old self and he was able to hold onto to the one thing that gave him the most pleasure in life – his music. After his second accident, despite knowing he could have lost his life, his first relief was that his voice was still in place. His second thoughts, however, were a little more profound.
 
“When I posted what happened (last month) on social media part of it was to let people know that there wasn’t drug and alcohol involved in my wreck. The big thing about posting it was that I wanted people to know I’m lucky and blessed because the Lord said ‘let’s leave this kid here,’” said Harrison. “I can still walk and talk to my family and friends; yeah I’m lucky and blessed.
 
“The biggest thing that weighs on my mind that I’ve thought about is why do I keep getting chances and opportunities to live life? I think about others who are sick and dealing with things and families who see loved ones die and I’ve asked why would I deserve the chances other haven’t got,” he continued. “I don’t have the answer, but I know having the chance means living life to its fullest. Life to the fullest now means not taking chances and I know it’s to do what I love and that’s my music.”
 
Again, Harrison “not taking chances” isn’t symbolic. It means he won’t be driving for a while. It’s possible he may never get behind the wheel of a car again.
 
The reason is the wreck. Not the fear of wrecking so much as what led to the wreck – none of which had to do with the ongoing opioid issue drowning our area or alcohol.
 
“My doctor recommended to me that perhaps it may be a good thing not to drive for a while or forever. With my life, I’m cool with that,” said Harrison.
 
What happened to Harrison in May was a result of what happened back in 2010. It wasn’t unusual, as he found out for people suffering serious head trauma, but the diagnosis came too late to avoid the accident.
 
“I had a seizure that day when I ran into the bank. I don’t remember a thing. I almost never go to the mall so I’m not sure what I was doing there. You want another blessing? I know my accident happened later in the evening. I’ve thought about that happening in the middle of the day driving through Bridgeport and hitting someone,” said Harrison. “You think about that and it’s easier to be cool with a decision not to drive.”
 
Even before the wreck, Harrison was having seizures, loss of memory, needing phone reminders to let him know he had a performance on a particular evening and so much more. He was out of sorts. The first seizure, he said, was nearly a year ago and he brushed it off as nothing serious.
 
“I was at Maple Lake at the basketball court and I was on one side and a young man on the high school team was on the other and we were both shooting. I remember turning around and seeing him walking toward me and I see an ambulance … I had no clue what was going on,” said Harrison.
 
Harrison figured he was dehydrated; perhaps overly fatigued and passed out. He didn’t want transported and signed off on not going by way of ambulance to the hospital. At that point, he got in his Jeep and went home.
 
That was the first seizure. It wouldn’t be the last. It also would be the beginning of odd behavior family and friends observed that eventually led him to seek help.
 
“I went to UHC and was scheduled to go back for an MRI, but I missed the appointment. It was scheduled the week after I had the wreck,” said Harrison.
 
The MRI was scheduled after a result of a particularly bad seizures that came after he was released from hospital care. When Harrison finally decided after seizing to go to UHC, he was sent to Ruby Memorial. After observation, for a couple of days, he was sent home.
 
“My friend, Heather Frum, didn’t think I should leave. She told them something wasn’t right and when I got home she told my family to keep an eye on me,” said Harrison. “It wasn’t long after coming home that I started having seizures again and this time it was really bad; bad enough 911 was called.”
 
Harrison again was back to UHC and then back to Ruby. This time, an entire team of neurologists were on the case.
 
“I think there were six of them,” said Harrison. “That’s when things were scheduled, including the MRI to get a grasp on the situation, but I had my wreck before anything could be determined as to what was causing the seizures.”
 
The diagnosis turned out to be what Harrison thought it was. His injury from 2010 that nearly took his life also led to the seizures and the wreck that nearly claimed it for the second time. In all of this, there’s not only good news, there’s a new perspective.
 
“I’m on a new medicine and I haven’t had a seizure since. I’ve gotten good therapy from Pinti Physical Therapy and my shoulder is healed and I’m performing,” said Harrison. “When you look at everything now, and even a few other things beyond what happened (in 2010) and with the wreck, it makes me think I have nine lives.
 
“My neurologist told me to do what makes me happy. Music makes me happy and for someone who’s stared at death too often, my advice is to do the same,” he continued. “If I couldn’t play music I would be bummed out, but I can and it makes me happy so I keep playing. As corny as it sounds, you shouldn’t take a single day of life the Lord gives you for granted. I know I won’t.”
 
And he knows he won’t likely be driving. Although he was told to wait six months before considering to drive again, he’s been told that people will have seizures again despite being in perfect health months or even years later. He said it’s not worth the risk.
 
“I’ve got a great father and family who help me out. I’ve got great friends who will drive. I just want to be healthy and play music and if not driving allows that to keep happening, well that’s a small price to pay,” said Harrison. “I’m here for a reason. I just don’t know what it is. The best thing I can do is live life to its fullest and be thankful.”
 
Thanks to that perspective, Harrison is where he wants to be in life – right in the driver’s seat.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Greg Harrison, left, performing recently with John Bonnett. Photos after that include the aftermath of the Jeep that hit the side of the bank in May, while others show past performances. Bottom photo shows Harrison after his 2010 accident that were the cause of his seizueres this year. Photos provided by Greg Harrison, while past performance photos by www.benqueenphotography.com.


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