Once at the hospital, doctors had trouble diagnosing McCaughey. "There was a doctor who insisted I had a seizure or I think he thought I was on drugs or drunk, which I wasn't at all," he says. To make matters worse, McCaughey didn't tell any of his bandmates where he was headed. Luckily, his phone was unlocked so someone at the hospital called the last number McCaughey had dialed. It belonged to Pitmon, but McCaughey had her listed by a joke name in his phone so when the hospital called, Pitmon thought McCaughey was pulling a prank. Only with some convincing did Pitmon realize the urgency of the call and soon she and Buck rushed to the hospital to be by his side. Though McCaughey tried to convince his friends to go on with the show, with guitarist Kurt Bloch switching from guitar to bass, the remaining dates of the Escovedo tour were scrapped.
McCaughey's wife, Mary Winzig, was back home in Portland attending a Trailblazers game with Buck's wife, Chloe Johnson, when she got the news and was soon on a plane to San Francisco.
When he initially regained consciousness the next day, he had two major concerns – his songwriting notebook and his San Francisco Giants cap. "I wanted to make sure they picked those off the sidewalk," he laughs. "And they did."
From there, his concerns became more serious. He was moved to another hospital and spent 10 days in intensive care at the stroke center there for a total of three weeks. "They pumped all this blood into my brain to keep the area that was dying in my brain as small as possible, and that made my blood pressure go through the roof," he recalls. "It was really intense. They had to monitor me closely to make sure they didn't kill me, and minimize the damage."
Fortunately, McCaughey had renewed his insurance through the Affordable Care Act in Oregon, though that wouldn't cover all the costs. He had an advocate in the hospital in Buck, who, according to McCaughey told hospital officials, "'Don't worry. He's got insurance and we'll take care of it.' He just kind of made sure they took good care of me," he says. Buck continued his support out of the hospital working with Winzig to make sure the cost of McCaughey's care was covered. "I don't really even know exactly what the [financial] damages are because Mary and Peter have just taken it out of my hands so I don't worry about it," he says.
"One of the first things I said to Mary about four or five days after the stroke was, 'I don't want any benefit concerts and I don't want a GoFundMe,' and she was like, 'Sorry, too late.'"
The two "Help the Hoople" benefit concerts (the name inspired by McCaughey's favorite band Mott the Hoople and the 2014 Minus 5 boxed set Scott the Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror) were held in Portland in January along with an online auction, raffle tickets and cash donations that pulled in more than $116,000. Artists who performed at the two shows included Escovedo, Filthy Friends, James Mercer of The Shins, M. Ward, the Drive By Truckers' Patterson Hood, the Decemberists and former R.E.M. members Buck, Mike Mills and Berry. The still-active GoFundMe account for McCaughey has surpassed its initial goal of $75,000 to raise more than $125,000 to date.?