Will singer Sufjan Stevens walk again? Rare Guillain-Barré Syndrome Explained

Singer Sufjan Stevens Rare Guillain-Barré syndrome

It’s certainly not the best of times for Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. The artist recently shared with his fans that he has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare and debilitating autoimmune disorder. The revelation has left the music community shocked as people wonder if the 48-year-old will even be able to walk again. Let’s take a look at Sufjan Stevens’ announcement and find out more about the rare Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Sufjan Stevens reveals rare disease diagnosis

The musician took to Tumblr to share his personal medical journey and opened up about the challenges he has faced due to Guillain-Barré syndrome. In a long post, he described the initial symptoms that led him to seek medical attention. 

Last month, Sufjan Stevens found himself unable to walk after waking up one morning. His hands, arms, and legs were numb and tingling. The singer felt no strength, feeling, or mobility in his body parts, following which he was hospitalized.

After a string of tests like MRIs, EMGs, cat scans, X-rays, spinal taps, and echo-cardiograms, neurologists diagnosed him with Guillain-Barré syndrome. This autoimmune disorder directly affects the nervous system.

Stevens thanks the medical professionals for giving him immuno-hemoglobin infusions to treat the condition. He expressed that the process was scary, but it worked and that he owed his life to the doctors.

Guillain-Barré syndrome explained

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves almost by mistake. It begins with weakness and tingling in the hands and feet and then instantly paralyzes the entire body. 

The exact cause of GBS remains unknown. However, patients report having had an infection, such as COVID-19, a respiratory infection, a gastrointestinal infection, or the Zika virus, in the weeks prior to the onset of symptoms.

Once these symptoms occur, immediate medical attention is crucial, like in Sufjan Stevens’ case. Recovery can be slow and challenging but it’s still possible. The singer is undergoing physical therapy at a rehabilitation center where he will learn to walk again.

Most people with Guillain-Barré syndrome can learn to walk again on their own within a year’s time. Some recover completely while others continue to experience weakness or fatigue. It depends on how severe the initial symptoms are. 

Sufjan Stevens’ career and upcoming work

Unfortunately, Sufjan Stevens’ rare Guillain-Barré syndrome diagnosis will affect his upcoming work. However, he remains dedicated to his craft as he explained why he could not attend press conferences and promotion, even during recovery.

The artist’s song Mystery of Love from the film Call Me by Your Name earned him an Academy Award nomination in 2017. He even considered doing a voiceover for the film but ultimately decided against it. Earlier this year, he ventured into ballet soundtracks.

His next album Javelin drops on October 6. This marks his first solo album of songs since The Ascension in 2020. Amidst his health struggles, fans eagerly await this upcoming release. Two singles – Will Anybody Ever Love Me? and So You Are Tired – are already out. 


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