Kristi Gibson: Bret Michaels' Real Rock of Love
A shaken Michaels credits Gibson, 39, a Canadian model/actress, with helping save his life on April 21, when he was suddenly seized by pain he compared to a gunshot to the back of the head.
"It made my mind go almost blank," he told People. "My neck tensed up. I couldn't move my head at all."
At home in Scottsdale, he called to Gibson for help, telling her he believed something was seriously wrong with him. Gibson, who says she is used to calming diabetic Michaels when his blood sugar dips, held his hand in the ambulance as he was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital.
"I said, 'I'm not leaving his side,'" Gibson told People. "I held his hand and told him, 'It's going to be okay.' Just from his eyes, you could tell how much pain he was in. I wanted to take away that pain so bad."
Michaels soon learned he had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, causing bleeding at the base of his brain. As PopEater reported earlier this week, Michaels asked his doctors if he was on the verge of death.
"I said in these exact words, 'Am I dying? If I'm dying, I want to see my kids, but if I have a chance, I don't want them to see me in this condition,'" the rocker said.
Though he said his wild life didn't flash before his eyes, Michaels now reveals he was "sad thinking of my daughters growing up without me." And Gibson was on his mind, too.
"It's the weirdest thing: You feel so much love and realize in a moment, in an instant -- you focus on what becomes really important. My children, Kristi, my sisters, my dad and my mom -- I wanted to call all of them."
"There's so much more that I want to do and experience," Michaels continued. "[Getting married], for sure, is something that I have never done. Kristi's such a great person. We'll see if that happens. But yes, that may be one of the big things on my list. My first goal is to get back [to] 100 percent. I want to continue to rock the world, and I want to continue to love my family and be a good father."
After 16 years of on-and-off dating, a walk down the aisle would be long overdue for Michaels and Gibson. Though the details of the pair's meeting are a little murky, some reports say Michaels struck up a romance with the striking Canadian model/actress while on tour in Canada in 1994, when she may or may not have been an exotic dancer.
Gossip on Kristi also says she may have once been linked to bleach blond rocker Billy Idol.
Gibson and Michaels took their relationship professional -- sort of -- in 1998, with Michaels tapping Gibson to play his girlfriend in 'A Letter From Death Row,' a low-budget crime thriller in which he co-starred and served as co-producer with pal Charlie Sheen. In a plot twist that may not have boded well for their relationship, Michaels' serial killer, Michael Raine, murders Gibson in the film. Kristi went on to land a walk-on role in another of Michaels and Sheen's movies-- she's credited as "Street Girl 2" in 'No Code of Conduct.'
Though Michaels hung on to the hard-rocking, womanizing reputation he earned with Poison, he and Gibson dated for 11 years, welcoming two daughters, Raine Elizabeth Sychak in 2000 and Jorja Bleu Sychak in 2005. The girls, who took Michaels' real last name, saw their parents split up in 2005. Coincidentally, Michaels' sex tape with former flame Pamela Anderson was released that same year.
In the years that followed, fans of VH1's 'Rock of Love' watched Michaels' televised romantic exploits, including make out sessions and screaming matches with the women who competed for his heart 'Bachelor'-style. But while Michaels hit the hot tub on TV, he was still sharing a Scottsdale, Ariz., home with Gibson and their two daughters.
In an interview with Blender magazine last year, Michaels denied he and Gibson were still romantically involved while he starred in three seasons of 'Rock of Love.'
"Everyone says that (the show's a scam), because of my relationship with Kristi. I would never do the show if we were still together, and she wouldn't be okay with that," Michaels said. "She lives here in Scottsdale with the kids. I have two other places, in Vancouver and Los Angeles, and the rest of the time I spend on the road."
"Kristi and I don't sleep in the same bed. We're best friends," he added. "My parents went through an extremely tough divorce and I vowed I wasn't gonna put our kids through that."
However, in an April interview with PEOPLE -- weeks before his medical emergency -- Bret admitted that he hadn't signed on for a fourth 'Rock of Love' season because he and Kristi were at a crossroads. "[She's] part of the reason I wasn't ready for a fourth 'Rock of Love.' I want to see where our emotions are and where our relationship stands ... I would never count out me and her settling down," he said.
Now, that seems even more likely, as Kristi tells PEOPLE that Bret's ordeal has brought them closer than ever.
"He was just worried about me and the girls -- that's all he cared about," Gibson said. "I was like, don't worry about us, we'll be fine."
With Michaels undergoing physical therapy and expected to make a full recovery, he calls his relationship with Gibson "a positive work in progress."An engagement-watch is now officially underway -- and somebody should probably stake out the Little White Wedding Chapel. If Michaels and Gibson do decide to wed, they have the support of his guitarist and friend, Pete Evick.
"In most of our world, Bret's the hero, but in this situation, Kristi was the hero -- she saved his life," Evick told People.
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