Celebrity News October 19, 2022
Matthew Perry Reveals He Was in a Coma and Nearly Died a Few Years Ago
Matthew Perry is opening up about his life in his new memoir “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.” The book follows his battle with addiction and reveals he nearly died a few years ago.
Perry, 53, spoke with People for a new cover story, explaining why it was the right time to tell his story.
"I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again. I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people."
The book begins with the story of how Matthew was hospitalized at 49, fighting for his life after his colon burst due to opioid overuse.
The star was in a coma for two weeks and hospitalized for five months. Perry then had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
At the time, the public was told that he suffered from a gastrointestinal perforation.
Perry said when he was taken to the hospital, "The doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live. I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that's called a Hail Mary. No one survives that."
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The health emergency was a wake-up call for Perry, who is now focused on his sobriety.
The star has had 14 surgeries on his stomach so far, and told People, "That's a lot of reminders to stay sober. All I have to do is look down."
Matthew also shared a conversation he had with his therapist that helped shift his perspective.
"My therapist said, 'The next time you think about taking OxyContin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,'" Perry said. "And a little window opened and I crawled through it and I no longer want OxyContin anymore."
He added, "There were five people put on an ECMO machine that night and the other four died and I survived. So the big question is why? Why was I the one? There has to be some kind of reason."
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Perry said of readers, "I think they'll be surprised at how bad it got at certain times and how close to dying I came. I say in the book that if I did die, it would shock people, but it wouldn't surprise anybody. And that's a very scary thing to be living with. So my hope is that people will relate to it, and know that this disease attacks everybody. It doesn't matter if you're successful or not successful, the disease doesn't care."
Looking back at his addiction over the years, Perry said when he was cast as Chandler Bing in “Friends” at 24 his alcohol addiction was just becoming an issue.
He explained, "I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble. But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, 'That should tell me something.'"
Matthew’s addiction got so bad, however, that at one point he was taking 55 Vicodin pills a day and weighed just 128 lbs.
"I didn't know how to stop," he said. "If the police came over to my house and said, 'If you drink tonight, we're going to take you to jail,' I'd start packing. I couldn't stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older."
Over the years his “Friends” castmates "were understanding, and they were patient."
Perry shared, "It's like penguins. Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up. They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That's kind of what the cast did for me."
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Matthew has been to rehab 15 times, and shared, "I'm pretty healthy now," joking, “I've got to not go to the gym much more, because I don't want to only be able to play superheroes. But no, I'm a pretty healthy guy right now."
He didn’t share how long he’s been sober, but he did say, "It's important, but if you lose your sobriety, it doesn't mean you lose all that time and education. Your sober date changes, but that's all that changes. You know everything you knew before, as long as you were able to fight your way back without dying, you learn a lot."
Matthew shared of his journey, "What I'm most surprised with is my resilience. The way that I can bounce back from all of this torture and awfulness. Wanting to tell the story, even though it's a little scary to tell all your secrets in a book, I didn't leave anything out. Everything's in there."
He said his book, on sale November 1, is “filled with hope… because here I am.”
Last year, the cast of “Friends” reunited for an HBO Max special and “Extra’s” Rachel Lindsay spoke with Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer at the time.
David shared a sweet story about how impressed he was with Perry when he was first cast as Chandler, explaining, “The person I couldn’t imagine was Chandler... and until I met Matthew and we did the table read and I was like, ‘Well, no one else could play that guy... because that’s great.’” Watch!