“You’re a sick drummer!”

Written by on October 16th, 2012 – 4 Comments

Ha. What an understatement. I don’t really use this lingo when I like something. As one would say, “That was a sick movie!”. I would say, “That was an awesome movie!” If I went out skateboarding all day, I wouldn’t say “What a sick day!”.  I would say “What an awesome day!”. I guess “Awesome” is my word.  Had the person who was complementing my drumming used the word “Awesome”, instead of “Sick”, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.

Hello, my name is Aaron. In 1998, my whole world was turned upside down with two little letters. MS. Those letters don’t bug me as much as they used to. They have brought me to the hospital hundreds of times. I have given myself hundreds of needles since all of this began. Blood tests, high doses of intravenous corticosteroids, Interferon-beta-1a (Rebif) injected three times a week, MRI, and Evoked Potentials. These are just some of the words and terms that are normal for me now.

After 14 years of putting up with MS, I am happy to say I’ve figured it out so far. I have been taking my meds religiously this entire time and I can’t remember the last time I had a relapse. In my mind the relapses are gone for good. They have to be.  I play drums all over the world with my friends and I haven’t let MS get in the way of anything.

Last summer was the summer of getting fit and finishing writing our next record.  That and spending as much time with my family was all I had time for. Everyday I would ride my bike from the west end of Toronto to the east. I would eat a proper meal, bring lots of water and play drums for hours. I would then hop back on my bike and make my way back to the west end.  Everything was great but it was time for a routine check up with the doctor.  A few years ago I had some chest pains after riding my bike. I had some tests done and was told I have a bi-cuspit aortic valve.  I was told “It looks fine right now but we should keep an eye on It.” and “This is very common, 1 and 3 people have this problem”. Cool. That was years ago and here I am waiting for the words “Everything looks the same, see you in six months” This time the words were “You’re heart is growing, it’s over working itself and you need to have open heart surgery as soon as possible.”

The drive home was an interesting one.  When someone tells you you have to have open-heart surgery, you experience a wave of new emotions that really mess with the rest of  your day.

At this point I was two weeks away from going to Vancouver and recording drums for our next record. This involved about 10 hours a day of playing drums. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on because I knew I had to do this record no matter what. So I pushed aside what was happening and focused on the job at hand. It was extremely hard for me but I got it done.

Then I had to wait for 2 months before I got my surgery day. Feb 2nd.

The surgery was intense but I was calm. Something happened the day before. I had this great feeling of acceptance. I knew I could approach this a few ways. I could freak out because I was about to have my heart stopped and have my chest cracked in half. I could play the “what if” game with myself and that’s never a positive thing to do. For me I just thought of the future. I knew that at some point I will be totally healed and all of this will just be something to talk about. I remember walking around and feeling tension from everyone around me. I was totally cool with what was about to go down. I was still a bit freaked out but after I accepted what was happening, everything became much easier.

Then it was time. I had my wife and my family at the hospital. As they prepped me they each came in to talk to me. It was really weird because there were so many other people going through all of this; I was given something to calm me down before I “went under.” My last memory was looking around the room at all of the people getting ready for my operation. There were at least 10 people and massive lights everywhere.  I slowly fell asleep……

And then I woke up.

To be continued….

4 Responses

  1. Patrycia Rzechowka says:

    This just blew me away! I had no idea that the “sick” drummer of my favourite band in highschool and continues to be one of them to this day, was going through anything like this. I am dealing with a fairly new MS diagnosis, but my outlook was and continues to be that “you MSed with the wrong girl” so much that it’s tattooed on me! Reading a story likes yours, knowing how much you’ve been through is such an inspiration to continue fighting! Thank you so much for sharing your story! WOW!

  2. Carol Pal says:

    Thank you for writing about this!
    I too have learned to live my life with those two little ms letters. Your comment, “These are just some of the words and terms that are normal for me now.” hit home as that is how I have chosen to live my life. This is my norm, this is how I roll, the word “relapse” is not a part of it….and…I…have…a…full…fabulous….life. It is great to read the words of someone who is that engaged in life so that those who are struggling may be encouraged. Dealing with the ms challenge is a mind set of strength and resilience that can extend to many areas of life. Also demonstrated by you. Well written and I hope you will share more of your story.


  3. Victoria says:

    you are an awesome drummer! and by telling your story to others you give them strength and hope. you don’t let anything get in the way of what you love and persuing your dreams!
    incredible idol
    incredible drummer
    in an incredible band
    looking forward to reading the rest of your story

  4. Jaqueline says:


    I have the same heart problem and I was told I would have to go through this surgery someday. It freaked me out. Thanks for sharing your story! I still think this is scary but after seeing how strong and hopefull you are, I felt inspired and strong too.

    I love Billy Talent and I think you’re such awesome drummer!
    Can’t wait to see u guys in São Paulo on December 6th!

    Hugs from Brazil!