By Rochelle Hughes
X Factor star Chico Slimani has revealed he pleaded with God to not let him die after he suffered a near-fatal stroke on the side of a motorway.
The 48-year-old thought the strange feeling he had was a spiritual awakening – and when he came round on the slip road of a motorway he even drove 500 yards to a pub and had a fish sandwich – unaware that he had suffered a stroke.
In an exclusive interview, Chico revealed it wasn’t until two days later when he went to the doctor he discovered there was a blood clot the size of a 50 pence piece on his brain
Chico said: “I was on the phone to my wife and I told her I was having one of those spiritual experiences. I hung up and pulled over and after two minutes I was out of it.
“It was an out of body experience. I didn’t realise it was a stroke. I felt as though I was in another reality with pure boundless love. I can’t describe it but it was beautiful.
“I thought about my daughter and a video played in my mind of her getting married and I wasn’t there and then I thought of my son and him having children and me not being a part of that.
“I tried to formulate a sentence and matter-of-factly I said: ‘I don’t want to die. I’ve not accomplished what I want to do. I really need you to know I’ve done my best.’
“I came round and I forced myself to drive to a pub. I was starving and I had a fish sandwich and then I drove three hours to get home.
“Two days later I had blood tests, MRI and brain scans and initially the doctor said everything looked perfect.
“But then he checked my brain scan and said ‘woah’.
“He left the room and then came back and told me that I had had a full-blown stroke and I had a blood clot on the brain.
“He said he went out of the room for a second opinion because he thought he’d got the wrong scan.”
Chico returned to work a month after his stroke and still gets tests every few months to prevent the same thing from happening again.
He said doctors have told him he is a ‘walking talking miracle’ because he didn’t become paralysed after the stroke.
Chico revealed he returned back to work so soon so he didn’t sink into a ‘deep depression’ and said as he recovered he received an outpouring of love from X Factor judges Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne as well as thousands of messages from fans.
He said: “I know how lucky I am, I am the 0.00001 per cent because I wasn’t partially paralysed.
“I was a walking talking miracle – the doctors credited this to my fitness.
I’ve had quiet moments of not wanting to do anything, and I have a cloudy brain sometimes where I know what I want to say but the words don’t come out.
“But I’ve had so much love from people on social media, it’s been amazing.
“People really saw it as a miracle. I told them it’s not Chico’s time yet!”
Chico has also been part of many stroke awareness events and has called out other celebrities who have not been open about their struggles with strokes.
He said: “You wouldn’t believe how many people have had a stroke but don’t want to talk about it
“If you are in the limelight and you have been through that you should bring awareness to save lives.
“Not talking about it because of someone’s reputation or ego is unforgivable. It really bugged me
Chico is now using his near-death experience in a positive way, to launch a fitness and health awareness weekend to highlight and educate people on how important keeping fit is both physically and mentally.
The weekend, held at Pontins Brean Sands Holiday Park in Somerset between September 20 and 22, will include special guests such as X Factor’s Andy Abrahams, Jive Bunny and Glastonbury favourites Masseoke.
To book tickets, go to: www.48hourparty.com/fitness