Mickey Gilley Talks Rehabbing From '09 Spinal Injury

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gilleys.com
Monday, in Rocks Off's our review of Jerry Lee Lewis's show in Winnie, Texas, we mentioned that Mickey Gilley, legendary country pianist and proprietor of probably the most famous honky-tonk in the universe was sitting at stage right.

Gilley and Jerry Lee are cousins, about a six months apart in age, but while Jerry Lee was hammering at his keys with the same old dexterity he's always had, Gilley, who did not perform, required the assistance of two people to stand and wave to the audience when he was introduced by the MC.

A reader wrote to us explaining why:

Mr. Gilley was involved in a horrible accident falling back down some stairs while helping a friend move a couch. The previous year, he suffered from a condition that required fluid removed from his brain. The accident left him in intensive care, paralyzed from the neck down.

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sulla55 via Flickr
It turns out that following the fall, which happened in July 2009, Gilley spent nearly eight months in rehab at the Memorial Hermann Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, also known as TIRR (above), the same facility now making headlines for treating U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

We'd heard that Gilley had nothing but glowing praise for the facility, so we reached him on his cell phone to talk about his stay at TIRR, his continuing recovery efforts, and his return, last year, to the Branson Theater that bears his name.

"It's a wonderful hospital," he said. "I can understand what the Congress-lady is going through, due to the fact that it's tough - that rehab is really, really tough. But you've got to stay with it. When I got there I couldn't move my left leg at all. I'm walking a little bit now and I'm getting along quite well. They did one heck of a job on yours truly."

Gilley said he fell less than two feet off a series of steps, but landed right on his neck, damaging his C-3, 4, 5, and 6 vertebrae, plus part of his seventh.

"My spinal chord swelled up and for a little bit over a month I was paralyzed from the neck down. I couldn't move anything, I couldn't do anything," he said. "I'm very fortunate I didn't break my neck.

"I've come back to the point that I can get around fairly well now. I can do a lot of things for myself without any help. I can take a bath, I can shave, I can wash my hair, I can dress myself. There's a few things that I can't do but the majority of the things I can do very well. I can drive my car. I'm not back a hundred percent but I'd say I'm back about 60 percent of what I used to could do."


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10 comments
lori a davidson
lori a davidson

My son had almost the same injury and he rehabed for 18 months only to eventually amputateing his right hand above the elbow.  It causes so struggles but he looks at other ways to do a certain task.  He wants to be indipenpance..  most of the time we completely forgert his losswe is now a father of three and married to a wondewfol woman to mary   God Bless you Mr Gilly. you Inspire  our family,  The Davidson  Enest  PA.

JohnB610
JohnB610

My wife and I saw Mickey Gilley on Oct 18 in Branson. What a great show.  Good luck on your recovery and God Bless You Mickey Gilley.  

Trina Stiff
Trina Stiff

I just met Mr. Gilley today while dining for lunch in Pasadena, TX.  What a pleasant gentle soul he is!!  We chatted for a few moments and I enjoyed sharing pleasantries with him.  TIRR must've done a wonderful job...'cause he looks remarkable.  I've lived in the Pasadena/Deer Park area all my life and today was the first time I've ever met him.  He seems happy and looks well...thanks TIRR!!

Patticakes2
Patticakes2

I just saw Mickey Gilley the 4th of October in Branson and I had seen him in September of 2010 and I can see a world of improvement in a years time.  So very thankful that my favorite country and western singer is doing so well.  I continue to pray he gets back 100%!  Just thankful we still have him!!  Wishing you God speed, Mickey!

Estulo
Estulo

unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of seeing any of Mickey Gilley's performances, but I really want to plan on going to Branson ASAP to do just that. I am so proud of his determination to succeed not only with his recovery, but with his entertaining!! I listen to his music and videos all the time on You-Tube....I just adore him!!! God Bless You Mickey!!!

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Great article and good for Mr. Gilley and TIRR!

I wonder what it costs to spend eight months in TIRR and who paid the bills?

Can the average person expect eight months coverage at TIRR from their health insurance?

Lclifton2610
Lclifton2610

I saw Mickey Gillely in October and again at end of Nov.  I could see a big improvement in just that length of time.  A lot of the anguish in his face from pain had left and he looked 5-10 years younger and smiling more !  Great performance !!

Txdoc
Txdoc

Gary,

I agree that the article by Ms. Shey was a great human interest piece. However, I would like to clarify a point. Any one with health insurance (including Medicare) would be able to recieve treatment at TIRR. In Mr. Gilley's case, he is over 65 and eligable for Medicare -- just like any American that continrubtes into that system. Those in society that make large sums of money actually pay more into the Medicare system, but their benefits are the same as anyone else. Therefore, we should be glad there are wealthy members of our society that contribute more than they will ever use as their "excess" payments help everyone in the system. This is why Medicare is a wonderful program -- especially for catastrophic coverage. I can't help myself, but we should all be concerned with our current Congress that would like to trim funds from Medicare's budget. I am sure that Mr. Gilley has some reasonable amount of money, but doubt he has a bank account like Madonna, Oprah, Beyounce, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and many other multi-millionaires. All Americans have paid into the system and, whether rich or poor, Medicare is there to give us security in old age. As to Ms. Shey's Comment that she "thought it interesting" that Mr. Gilley had to get a prescription from his doctor for PT. It is not all that interesting. In order to have treatment paid by Medicare that is a requirement. It does not matter whether Mr. Gilley has money or not. He paid into the system and Medicare should pay for his medical treatment -- just as it would you or Ms. Shey if you qualified for Medicare.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

Yes, I thought it was interesting when he told me he wanted to make sure and get a prescription for his PT so MediCare would pay for it. He has probably made more money in his life than I'll ever see,

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