Sufjan Stevens 'Learning To Walk Again' After Being Diagnosed With Rare Auto Immune Disorder

21 September 2023 | 2:44 pm | Mary Varvaris

"I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. My hands, arms and legs were numb and tingling and I had no strength, no feeling, no mobility."

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens (Source: Supplied)

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Beloved indie singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens is “learn[ing] to walk again” after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder, Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare yet critical condition where a person’s immune system attacks their nerves. The first symptoms – tingling in the hands and feet – can quickly spread and eventuate in someone’s body, causing them to become paralysed.

Overnight, Stevens revealed that last month, “I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. My hands, arms and legs were numb and tingling and I had no strength, no feeling, no mobility.”

In a website and social media statement, Stevens wrote that his brother drove him to the ER. After a series of tests, including “MRIs, EMGs, CAT scans, X-rays, spinal taps (!), echo-cardiograms, etc.”, the neurologists diagnosed him with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Stevens explained that, luckily, there is treatment for the condition, including the administration of immuno-haemoglobin infusions “for five days and pray that the disease doesn’t spread to the lungs, heart and brain. Very scary, but it worked,” he wrote. “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 [sic] my condition. I owe them my life.

He continued, “On September 8, 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.

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“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!”

Stevens will keep fans posted throughout his progress. “Thank you for your thoughts and prayers,” he wrote. “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.

“Be well, be joyful, stay sane, stay safe. I love you.

“Yours truly from a wheelchair XOXOXO Sufjan Stevens”.

At the beginning of his statement, Stevens explained that the diagnosis and experience is why he hasn’t done much press regarding his new album, Javelin, to be released via Asthmatic Kitty on Friday, 6 October.

The album features the single, Will Anybody Ever Love Me? which has a music video directed by Stevens’ longtime collaborator, Stephen Halker. You can watch the video below and pre-order Javelin here.