- 20 Sep 23
The news comes ahead of the release of the American singer-songwriter's upcoming album, Javelin.
Taking to social media this afternoon, Sufjan Stevens has revealed that, after waking up last month unable to walk, he's been diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome.
The acclaimed singer-songwriter – who's received both Grammy and Oscar nominations – revealed that the reason he hasn't been able to "participate in press and promotion" in the run-up to his new album, Javelin (out October 6, via Asthmatic Kitty), is because he has been in hospital.
"Last month I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk," he wrote on Instagram. "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.
"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," 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!"
He went on to state that he will keep his fans posted as he progresses. He also issued "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," he concluded – before signing off the message with: "yours truly from a wheelchair XOXOXO Sufjan Stevens"
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According to the NHS, Guillain-Barré syndrome is "a very rare and serious condition that affects the nerves" – causing issues such as "numbness, weakness and pain."
Javelin, Sufjan's upcoming LP, has been described as his first album "in full singer-songwriter mode since 2015's Carrie & Lowell".
The vast majority of the LP was created by Sufjan at home – with contributions from a close circle of friends, including adrienne maree brown, Hannah Cohen, Pauline Delassus, Megan Lui and Nedelle Torrisi, who provide harmonies. The National's Bryce Dessner also plays acoustic and electric guitar on penultimate track 'Shit Talk'.
Javelin's closing track, meanwhile, is a cover of Neil Young's 'There's A World', from 1972's Harvest.
Listen to the latest single from Javelin, 'Will Anybody Ever Love Me?', below: