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Dick Wagner Resumes Career After Being Misdiagnosed With Dementia

Dick Wagner
Dick Wagner / Facebook

Dick Wagner, the songwriter and guitarist whose prolific pen was behind many of Alice Cooper‘s greatest hits, is back in action after discovering that he’d been misdiagnosed with dementia.

Vintage Vinyl News reports that Wagner suffered from dementia-like symptoms for five years, ultimately finding himself unable to play guitar — or even walk properly. As he put it, “I didn’t know what was happening to me, and I thought my career was over.”

Wagner turned to the Barrow Neurological Institute for help, and it was there that doctors discovered he was actually afflicted with a rare disease called normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), in which a buildup of spinal fluid puts pressure on the nerves that control the legs, bladder and cognitive function, causing symptoms that mimic Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Because it affects so few people, and manifests itself so closely to more widespread diseases, it’s often hard for doctors to identify.

“The condition is very difficult to diagnose,” admitted the neurosurgeon who treated Wagner’s condition. “An estimated five percent of all dementia patients actually have NPH, which is correctable.”

The good news for Wagner is that a relatively simple-sounding procedure, in which a permanent shunt is implanted in the brain to divert the fluid buildup, produced immediate results. “I was like a new man overnight,” Wagner beamed. “For five years I didn’t have the strength or coordination to pick up the guitar. That all changed immediately after surgery. I got my life back.”

Wagner is celebrating his new lease on life with a recently released memoir, ‘Not Only Women Bleed: Vignettes From the Heart of a Rock Musician,’ which he’s currently promoting on the road. He’ll be making a few stops in California in late October, starting with an Oct. 22 appearance in Mill Valley, continuing Oct. 24 in San Jose and concluding Oct. 26 in Carmel. All events are free and will include a book signing as well as a short live set.

Next: Top 10 Alice Cooper Songs

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