Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens shared his Guillain-Barré syndrome diagnosis and announced he is relearning how to walk after a hospitalization.
Stevens, whose original song “Mystery of Love” was nominated for an Academy Award for 2017’s “Call Me by Your Name,” took to Tumblr to announce his medical treatment. His next album “Javelin” is slated to be released October 6.
“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,” Stevens wrote. “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.”
Stevens continued, “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.”
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks nerves; after the initial numbness, paralysis is common. Stevens was transferred to a rehabilitation center to undergo physical therapy and “learn to walk again.”
“It’s a slow process, but they say I will ‘recover,’” Stevens wrote, “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.”
In addition to “Mystery of Love,” Stevens performed the final song “Visions of Gideon” featured in Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name.” Stevens told Deadline in 2017 that Guadagnino approached him to also narrate the film, saying, “I wanted to envelop the movie in the voice of Sufjan Stevens.”
However, Stevens told Guadagnino that he thought the voiceover was a “mistake” as well as the “interruption of me singing the song.”
“I think he was just thinking out loud. I don’t know if he was really committed to the idea,” Stevens said of Guadagnino. “So I said, ‘I’ll write you some songs, but that’s all I think you need from me.’ When I saw the first edit, he said, ‘You were right, this doesn’t need a monologue or an interruption.’”
Stevens added, “I’ve always been resistant to work in film. I think it’s because I’m always a little suspicious of the role of music in cinema. But Luca is an exception, because he’s one of those rare directors who uses music and sound so fiercely and with such mastery that you cannot imagine the films without the music.”