updated 11/07/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/14/2011 AT 7:15 AM ET
Bret Michaels has been through a lot in the past two years – and knows he’s one of the lucky ones.
Sitting backstage with PEOPLE at the Orlando Hard Rock Cafe, a thin but energetic Michaels, discussing his health scare and his fortunes both good and bad, says: “It has been rough. But I’m feeling pretty damn good. I’m really blessed to be here.”
In April 2010, the Poison frontman and reality star, 48, underwent an emergency appendectomy. A few days later, he was struck by a subarachnoid hemorrhage – bleeding in his brain stem that could have proved fatal.
After surgery, he was hospitalized again, this time with a small stroke. And in January, he had surgery to repair a hole in his heart. “It was one thing after another,” says Michaels. “It was like, ‘What next?’ ”