After numerous health scares, the rocker says he's grateful for each new day

By Steve Helling
April 13, 2015 04:35 PM
Kristian Dowling/Fox/PictureGroup

It has been five years since rocker Bret Michaels had several health scares.

In April 2010, he had an emergency appendectomy. A few days later, he was struck by a subarachnoid hemorrhage – bleeding in his brain stem that could have proved fatal.

In short order, that was followed by a small stroke – and then surgery to repair a small hole in his heart.

“It was a trifecta, plus one,” Michaels, 52, tells PEOPLE. “But now, I feel blessed to be on the right side of the dirt. Every day that I wake up has to be a good day!”

Despite having emergency kidney surgery last year, Michaels says he won’t slow down. “I don’t have a death wish; I have a life wish,” he says. “I want to fill my life with as much awesome stuff as I can.”

“You can’t have self-pity,” he continues. “At some point, you have to say, ‘These are the cards I’ve been dealt, and I’m going to play them.’ I may have some things tougher than the average person, but there are a lot of people who are going through worse things than me. I can’t live in fear.”

The Celebrity Apprentice winner tells PEOPLE that he tries to keep himself busy with interesting projects.

For example, Michaels has partnered with Hard Rock Cafes nationwide to create “Sing for Your Supper,” an event on April 15 where guests in select locations can get a free Local Legendary Burger. There’s just one catch: in order to qualify for the free food, guests have to get onstage and sing.

Michaels says he’ll take the stage at Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles.

“I just want the free burger,” Michaels jokes.

So if you’re a rocker like Michaels, what do you sing at an event like this? “Probably ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn,’ he says. “But you’d probably be surprised at my taste in music. I like just about everything.”

“I know everyone thinks of me as a rocker, and I love classic rock,” he says. “But I like country, pop, old Motown music. I think Bruno Mars really has a great sound.

“Sometimes I lean country – maybe some Jason Aldean. Or sometimes I’ll listen to old Elvis or Imagine Dragons. I just like different music to suit my mood.”

So what happens if he has another health scare? “If something bad happens, I’ll take it as it comes,” he says. “That’s life. You do what you have to do to keep moving forward in life.”

But he won’t do it alone. “I have been blessed to have a great family, good friends and a lot of fans who really care,” he says. “When something bad happens, they send me their well-wishes, karma and prayers. And you know what? That helps. That helps a lot. And I’m so appreciative of them all.”

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