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Bret Michaels might be ready to rock in weeks

The Associated Press, Friday, April 30, 2010, 6:44am (PDT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Bret Michaels could stage yet another comeback sooner than expected.

Doctors say it is possible that Michaels, the outspoken 47-year-old former Poison frontman currently competing on "The Celebrity Apprentice," could be healthy enough to appear on the NBC reality series' live finale on May 23. Michaels, one of seven stars remaining in the competition, has been in intensive care since suffering a brain hemorrhage last week.

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"If all the studies he had done show no evidence of an aneurysm being found, it would really just depend on his energy level," said Dr. Ronald Benitez, director of cerebrovascular surgery at Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J. "If all the tests were negative, and I was watching the show at the end of May, I personally wouldn't be surprised if he was on it."

Michaels, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6 and underwent an emergency appendectomy April 12, was rushed to an undisclosed hospital last week with a severe headache. He was later diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which causes bleeding in the fluid-filled spaces around the base of the brain. The cause of the hemorrhage is still unknown.

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"Bret remains in critical condition in ICU under 24-hour supervision by doctors and medical staff," said a statement first posted Thursday on Michael's website by his tour manager, Janna Elias. "If a patient survives the initial rupture, the first seven to 10 days after are the most critical as an additional rupture or other complications may arise."

The statement said doctors are continuing to treat Michaels for hyponatremia, a sodium deficiency commonly caused by a brain hemorrhage that can lead to seizures. It also said that a press conference has been scheduled for Tuesday with the doctors currently treating the bandana-clad rocker to further explain Michaels' condition, treatment and prognosis.

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"Whether or not the site of the bleeding can ultimately be identified doesn't necessarily affect the course of action with the subarachnoid hemorrhage," said Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at the University of California, Los Angeles. "It's typically a disease that runs a particular course with a beginning, middle and end phase."

Vespa said Michaels' type of hemorrhage can "wipe a person out for a while" but that recovery could take "just a few weeks, if everything goes absolutely perfect, or up to several months." He also said it is unlikely Michaels would experience further complications, though the most common are short-term memory loss, concentration problems and depression.

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The ongoing medical dilemma has prompted questions about the future of the third season of "The Celebrity Apprentice," which features such stars as pop singer Cyndi Lauper, reality TV diva Sharon Osbourne, celebrity chef Curtis Stone and actress Holly Robinson Peete competing alongside Michaels in business-themed tasks to win money for their charities.

Michaels already filmed most of "The Celebrity Apprentice" last fall. However, the finale requires the final two contestants to debate against each other live in front of Donald Trump. If Michaels ascends to the final showdown, it would be unprecedented in "The Apprentice" franchise history if he is not present to defend himself in the boardroom.

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"We've never been confronted with anything like this," Trump told Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday. "He is still in the show. He's doing really, really well, and all of sudden ... I can't imagine. It's going to be live for two hours, and it's going to be in four weeks. I can't imagine he's going to be on the finale, but he very well might be."

Whether he's fired or hired by Trump during the May 23 finale or in an earlier installment, Michaels' representatives are still giving his music fans something to believe in. While his appearances scheduled through May 21 have already been postponed, Michaels' other concert dates, including his summer tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd, are going ahead as scheduled.

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"At this time, we are planning to resume the tour May 26 in Ft. Smith, Ark., provided there are no further complications or setbacks," said another statement posted Thursday on Michaels' website. "We will then continue with all scheduled dates throughout the summer and fall, including the June and July tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd."

It certainly wouldn't be Michaels' first comeback tour. After glam-rock was edged out in the 1990s, the "Unskinny Bop" singer found renewed fame on reality TV. He starred as a judge on the third season of USA's singing contest "Nashville Star" in 2005, then as the bad-boy bachelor looking for lust on VH1's tawdry dating show "Rock of Love" from 2007 to 2009.

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