Eric Church's health had been a ticking time bomb for years before he underwent surgery in 2017.
Church, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Country said he first noticed some odd tingling in his hands when he was finishing his world tour in 2017, but he just associated it with nerves and didn’t give it much more thought.
In June of 2017, he was watching the College World Series and texting about it when he noticed that his left hand "was not responding like it should." He realized his arm was swollen, and when he took his shirt off and looked in the mirror, "my arm was noticeably red and enlarged."
Church had heard about people suffering thrombosis on airplanes, so he Googled the term. "I had five out of five symptoms," he says.
He drove himself to the hospital in the early hours of the morning, where he was informed he needed an ultrasound, which they couldn’t perform. The second hospital diagnosed a blood clot in his chest - Church asked if it could kill him to which the doctors responded with "today," it was then he realized the seriousness of his condition.
"To them, I was going to die," he reflects. Church ended up undergoing surgery for a birth defect called thoracic outlet syndrome, in the top rib is too close to the 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 says. "The clot was where it tried to heal. But it kept backing up and like any clot, when you get enough pressure, it’s gonna blow.”
Doctors told Church he was lucky, since most cases are discovered while people are in their 20s. By the time someone is his age, he says, "They usually just fall over in the shower."
After three days of recovery, Church underwent another surgery to have his top rib removed, followed by months of physical therapy and rehab. By September, he was back out on tour. He says he has suffered no long-term nerve damage; he can still play guitar, and in fact, "I play golf better than ever."