Tyler Jackson of Drive Time’s miraculous recovery from brain aneurysm

During a time of year when we reflect and give thanks, there is much to be grateful for even in the midst of a pandemic. Tyler Jackson, 24 year old banjoist with NC-based bluegrass band Drive Time who suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm on October 31, is back home and on the road to a complete recovery!

“We’re HOME!” said Tyler’s dad, Ronnie Jackson. “Tyler has quite a few appointments coming up, but medically he’s good. Doctors are optimistic about his recovery. He will receive rehab and therapy as an outpatient.”

The young banjo picker spent 15 days in the ICU at Chapel Hill Medical Center, two days in a step-down room, and two more in a regular room before being released to go home last Thursday, November 19.

His dad expressed his appreciation for the medical care his son received. “We will always be grateful for the Neurological Science ICU at UNC hospital in Chapel Hill. When we entered, we didn’t know what would happen, and we were so scared. We had no choice but to put it in God’s hands.”

Tyler will begin the rehabilitation process this week. He will receive physical therapy to assist him with walking and balance. There will also be occupational therapy sessions to help strengthen his muscles.

“He can do everything that he could do before. He has full mental capacity with just some balance issues,” shared his father. “He is limited with weight (lifting) so he hasn’t played his banjo yet.”

But he is picking. 

In a phone interview on Monday morning, Tyler stressed, “I played guitar Saturday and Sunday. I may start playing some mandolin.”

The Buies Creek resident was visited by some of his bluegrass friends and band mates on Sunday afternoon.

“It was nice to talk bluegrass and see my friends,” Tyler relayed.

One guest was Austyn Howell, Drive Time’s guitarist. “It was a good visit. He was in great spirits, joking and laughing. He has good dexterity in his hands and feet. In fact, he was playing some guitar Saturday. He was able to walk unassisted. He has some minor things to work through with physical therapy, but overall it was a testament to his will and God’s grace. He heard the prayers from every corner of the country and beyond.”

Another visitor was close friend, Bailey Coe. “It was great to see Tyler and his family. Seeing Tyler laugh seemed to uplift everyone’s spirits. We all know that he still has a ways to go, but it was great to see him interacting with everyone. Tyler is a strong person and will persevere. We love him and are so glad to see him heading in a positive direction.”

Drive Time band mate, Grayson Tuttle, agreed. “Tyler is one of my best friends and I am always proud to call him this! After the aneurysm, I was shaken but knew Tyler had the strength to pull through. I’m so proud of him and know there is still a road to recovery, but with his courage he will prevail. We will all be here to support and encourage him along the way. The band simply could not function without him, and I can’t wait to be back on the stage beside my right hand man!”

Tyler was moved by the response to his ordeal. “I appreciate the overwhelming support from friends, family, and the bluegrass community all over.”

The young musician is truly a miracle, beating the odds.

Ronnie explained the numbers. “Tyler is in the top 30%! We were told that (of individuals who experience aneurysms) 30% never make it to the hospital and 40% never make it out of a long term care facility.”

“I hope our testimony during the single scariest thing in my life touched someone in a special way. The Holy Spirit was surely with all of us, and we thank God for that. Lastly, Tyler’s faith has impressed me. He wanted the chaplains to come by every day. This will make all of us more faithful to the good Lord. Thanks everyone! Love you all!”

Tyler concluded, “I still have a ways to go. 2020 has not been my favorite year, but I am thankful for God’s healing grace and mercy.”

Looking ahead, Drive Time hopes to eventually resume performing with Tyler on banjo. There is much to celebrate this Thanksgiving season.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.