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Sufjan Stevens is ‘learning to walk again’ after rare autoimmune disease suddenly left him immobile

Sufjan Stevens is ‘learning to walk again’ after rare autoimmune disease suddenly left him immobile

Sufjan Stevens has revealed that he was hospitalised for two weeks and is learning to walk again after being diagnosed with the serious autoimmune disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

The American indie-folk artist explained that he hasn’t been promoting his forthcoming album Javelin because he has been undergoing “intense” physical therapy.

In a lengthy Tumblr post shared on Wednesday (20 September), Stevens, 48, shared a selfie from hospital and updated fans on his condition.

“Last month I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk,” the Oscar-nominated artist wrote. “My hands, arms and legs were numb and tingling and I had no strength, no feeling, no mobility. My brother drove me to the ER [Emergency Room] and after a series of tests – MRIs, EMGs, cat scans, X-rays, spinal taps (!), echo-cardiograms, etc. – the neurologists diagnosed me with an autoimmune disorder called Guillian-Barre Syndrome.

“Luckily there’s treatment for this,” Stevens continued, “they administer immuno-hemoglobin infusions for five days and pray that the disease doesn’t spread to the lungs, heart and brain.

“Very scary, but it worked. I spent about two weeks in Med/Surg, stuck in a bed, while my doctors did all the things to keep me alive and stabilize my condition. I owe them my life.

“On 8 September, I was transferred to acute rehab, where I am now undergoing intensive physical therapy/occupational therapy, strength building etc. to get my body back in shape and to learn to walk again.

“It’s a slow process, but they say I will ‘recover,’ it just takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. Most people who have GBS learn to walk again on their own within a year, so I am hopeful. I’m only in my second week of rehab but it is going really well and I am working really hard to get back on my feet. I’m committed to getting better, I’m in good spirits, and I’m surrounded by a really great team. I want to be well!”

He concluded the post: “I’ll keep you posted as I progress. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. And a huge shout out to all the incredible caretakers of the world working night and day to help us heal. They are living saints.”

The Mayo Clinic defines GBS as a “rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves”. There is no known cure for it, but there are treatments to mitigate its symptoms.

In Europe and North America, it affects only one to two members of the general public out of 100,000 each year.

Detroit-born Stevens is known for his melancholic, ethereal sound. His 2017 track “Mystery of Love”, written for Luca Guadagnino’s acclaimed gay romance of the same year, Call Me by Your Name, was nominated for a Grammy and an Oscar.