Rich Polk/Getty Dean Winters
The 57-year-old actor contracted a bacterial infection in June 2009 that put him in cardiac arrest for more than two minutes, he recounted to Page Six in a new interview. Though paramedics were able to resuscitate him during the ambulance ride to the hospital, Winters needed multiple operations and developed gangrene a month later, which required the amputation of two of his toes and half of a thumb.
Ever since, the Oz star said, he’s struggled with the pain.
“I haven’t taken a step since 2009 without being in pain,” he said. “I’ve got neuropathy on, you know, on a whole different level where I can’t feel my hands and my feet. But if I stepped on a pebble, it’s like I go through the roof.”
Winters said that he’s had to accept that the pain is part of his life now.
“It’s a very weird dichotomy. It’s like, it’s very hard to figure out. Nothing you can do about it,” he said. “I’ve been sucking it up because, you know, the alternative is not a place where I want to be.”
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Winters previously explained to US Weekly that the bacterial infection was related “to an illness I had as a kid and it caught up to me.” The day before going into cardiac arrest, he had a high fever that he ignored until he woke up the next morning “the color gray.” Winters was on the way to his doctor’s office when he collapsed.
“I was dead in the back of an ambulance, and the great doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital [in Manhattan] brought me back to life,” he said.
Winters was offered his now-iconic role as “Mayhem” in Allstate insurance commercials while he was undergoing a tenth surgery and told them no at first, but “Allstate was relentless,” he told Page Six.
“It’s crazy, if you look in the Webster dictionary, the Old English definition of the word ‘mayhem’ is ‘one with amputations,’ ” Winters said.