Toronto rapper makes public plea about his health issues

By Ginella Massa

He’s known for his music, but now a Toronto-area rapper is trending because of his deteriorating health.

The 23-year-old MMVA nominated artist known as John River is opening up on social media about a terrifying medical experience, and making a public plea for help.

In a series of Twitter posts, the rapper, whose real name is Matthew Derrick-Huie, says he went to the emergency room multiple times in December for chest pains, and was repeatedly sent home by doctors who chalked it up to stress. On one occasion, after his symptoms escalated to shortness of breath and impaired vision, he recalls returning to hospital: “This time, though, they send me to a psychiatric ward,” he tweets.

A crisis worker assesses him and a doctor tells him he’s suffering from an anxiety disorder, a diagnosis River rejects.

After weeks of his symptoms worsening, River says one doctor finally agreed to a test involving a needle in his spine, suggesting he could have a cerebrospinal fluid leak – a condition where fluid escapes from the brain and spinal cord.

River recounts returning to the ER shortly after that test, this time because he’s developed an intense sensitivity to light.

“The moment we leave my apartment I start screaming – the lights on the wall are huge – they look like suns. I have no idea what’s going on. By the time we get to the hospital, the pressure in my head feels like it’s going to explode, and I pass out,” he tweets.

But the rapper claims despite two doctors suspecting a CSF leak, they haven’t been able to get approval to give him any treatment.

“I’ve fallen through the cracks of our health care system,” he writes. “My family and friends have done everything they can, but they can’t do any more.”

River’s family did not want to speak to media on Friday, but his assistant tells CityNews he is at home and still dealing with many of the symptoms he recounted. He has made a call out to the public on Twitter asking for help in finding a medical professional who can take on his case and help him get the treatment he needs.

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