Doing fine. Staying busy. Just finished a movie in Baton Rouge. Got to go to the LSU game.
I went to my first game in Death Valley when I was about three.
Oh man, there’s nothing like that stadium there. One for the bucket list.
You continued to shoot Hercules after the strokes and were even able to keep your illness a secret. How did you pull that off?
You’ll have to ask Universal Studios. The strokes happened when I was in Los Angeles and we shot Hercules down in New Zealand. The studio wanted to keep the strokes quiet. They let people know about the aneurysm but how they pulled the secret off — I don’t know. This happened fifteen years ago but in today’s easy access world I don’t think you’d be able to hide. I’m glad they did because that gave me a chance to recover. Wasn’t sure how long it would take but I was determined to get myself better and was grateful to have my job waiting. I went down to working one hour a day for awhile and slowly worked my way back up to fourteen hour days. But that gave me a hope and a drive and purpose in my life when I really needed it.
What was the lowest point?
Oh gosh, I was low for awhile. The first year was just hell. Dizzy spells, migraines, vertigo, the buzzing in the back of my head… I lost ten percent of my vision. Panic and anxiety attacks set in. Any little bump I got, I was afraid another stroke was coming, that I was going to die. I went from feeling like the strongest guy in the world physically, emotionally and mentally — and all of that got stripped away. I wasn’t until the second year when I started to show improvement that gave me hope.
You found a lot of help in alternative medicine.
The doctors kept telling me that eight months was the timetable. After eight months, that’s what you would have to live with the rest of your life. Well, I wasn’t doing too good after eight months. There was no way I was going to live like that, the headaches and dizziness, so I started looking at Eastern medicine. Meditation, acupuncture – which I loved — it helped right away. Yoga, Pilates, all kinds of things I probably never would have done if not for the illness. I think the mixture of the two medicines was huge in my improvement.
Faith played an important role in your recovery too.
I’ve always been a believer but I think initially I went through that stage where I blamed God, the milkman, I blamed everybody, you know? It’s human nature, we always point fingers and blame others for our problems and broken dreams instead of taking a good look at ourselves and our attitudes. I was going through a mourning process, like someone close to me had died and the reality was it was myself. I had to face up to the fact that I was never going to be the person I was before. That’s hard. Humans, we don’t like change. So I had to find a place to say, stop whining, get off your butt and find a way to make yourself better.
You know, it did. The ego had to go. That was my prayer – Okay, this is the hand I’ve been dealt. Show me what to do. Part of the book title makes fun of the fact that Hercules didn’t have true strength. I had a bunch of stunt guys making me look good. On the other hand, I had to find a lot of inner strength in myself to fight this thing. And that’s why this book got written. My wife kept pushing me to get the word out there. If it can happen to me it can happen to anybody. I wasn’t the picture of a stroke victim by any means. Doctors look for obesity, smoking, drinking, dietary issues, high blood pressure. I had none of those things. We’re all gonna hit a road someday we don’t want to be on. How do you react when you are there? How do you make yourself better instead of negative?
How do you get to a point where you’re thankful for a disaster?
I had to. A craniologist was working on me — interesting stuff because he was barely touching my hair but I could feel my brain moving – I don’t know if it was psychosomatic or what but it was kinda creepy and helpful at the same time. He told me, “You have to embrace this, you have to see it as a gift.” Initially I couldn’t process that. But it made me more of a real man. More patient, more forgiving, more grateful. We all get caught up in our little world and think everything revolves around us. It doesn’t. He gave me this thing called the grateful prayer, which you don’t even have to be religious to do. You just start noticing the things you appreciate. I’m grateful for the hot water at my place, grateful I have a pillow and a bed. We take things for granted.
You had the stroke just after your neck was adjusted by a chiropractor – even though you strongly felt it was the wrong thing to do. I’ve had some bad experiences with chiropractors myself. Do you think that caused the stroke or was it just the straw that broke the camel’s back?
A bit of both, really. I’ve looked into it a lot since then, into chiropractic manipulation of the neck and it’s not a good way to go. I was the keynote speaker at the American Heart Association meeting and I met a lot of people who had strokes after neck manipulation. It’s extremely rare but it’s there. Because I had the aneurysm so close to the main artery that feeds into the brain – on the left sub-clavicle – when he cracked my neck left to right, it forced three clots up there. I think chiropractors owe it to their clients to let them know that with the neck, this can happen. I certainly think there’s a place for chiropractors – just not the neck. And chiropractics is not a quick fix. You still need to build up the muscles around the injury and go to qualified therapists for a long-term recovery.
Mine too! I was working eighteen hour days door-to-door on Hercules. Did five years of that before I suffered the strokes. Getting up at four-thirty in the morning and home at ten-thirty at night every day. So yeah, twelve is a full day in anybody’s book and I was able to work that into my contract.
What have you been working on lately?
I just finished a film called “God Isn’t Dead” that’s coming out next fall and if you wanna get in the Holiday mood, I’ve got a movie out now called “The Christmas Spirit”, with Della Reese. It’s on GMC or you can catch it on Netflix. And one on Hallmark called “The Santa Suit”… Man, I’ve got like six or seven in the can, waiting to come out. Tell people they can go to kevinsorbo.net and follow me. And they can get stuff about the book here.
You mentioned that you would listen to The Eagles to get into “Hercules mode”? Which song?
(laughs) Boy, that’s my favorite group there. Just so many hits. Anything from “Desperado” to “Take it Easy”. Hard for me to pick one.
For Hercules Mode? I guess I would have imagined Judas Priest or Guns N Roses maybe. Not really “Peaceful, Easy Feeling”. I do love the Eagles though.
Hmm. Actually I think I was talking about listening to music in the camper. We listened to Seal a lot too. It’s strange how music works for people. It affects everybody a different way. I hear music now from those seven years I shot Hercules and it just brings me right back to those days. Funny how music has the power to do that to us. But The Eagles are my favorite group and I’ve been able to play golf with Don Felder and Glenn Frey through the years. I’m a big Meat Loaf guy too so it’s cool to meet all these guys because I guess I’m a so-called celebrity.
I’ve played a lot of golf with Alice! Played his tournament down in Phoenix several times. We’re friends with his wife as well. He’s a good Christian guy, obviously a hardcore golf addict like me. He does an annual event called Christmas Pudding to raise money for local charities in Phoenix area.
Very cool, sir. Glad to hear you’re doing better, we appreciate your time.
Thanks, man, it was my pleasure.