Sufjan Stevens Learning How to Walk, Shares Guillian-Barre Diagnosis

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Indie singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens has revealed that he is learning how to walk again after being diagnosed with the rare Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder where the body’s immune system attacks a portion of the peripheral nervous system.

In a lengthy post on Tumblr, his social media platform of choice, Stevens explained that he’s been out of the promotional cycle for his upcoming album “Javelin,” releasing Oct. 6 via Asthmatic Kitty, because he’s been in the hospital undergoing “intense” physical therapy to regain control over his body.

“I’m very excited about having new music to share, but I just wanted to let you know that one of the reasons why I haven’t been able to participate in the press and promotion leading up to the release of Javelin is bc I am in the hospital,” he wrote in the post, including a picture of himself in the hospital.

“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. My brother drove me to the ER and after a series of tests—MRIs, EMGs, cat scans, X-rays, spinal taps (!), echo-cardiograms, etc.—the neurologists diagnosed me with an auto immune disorder called Guillian-Barre Syndrome. Luckily there’s treatment for this — 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.”

According to his post, Stevens was transferred to acute rehab on Sept. 8 “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.”

He continued, “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!”

“Javelin” is set to be Stevens’ first solo album of songs since 2020’s “The Ascension,” and is preceded by the singles “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” and “So You Are Tired.” In May, he released the ballet soundtrack “Reflections” with Timo Andres and Conor Hanick.

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