Singer Sufjan Stevens unable to walk after rare nerve disease diagnosis

Sufjan Stevens  (Getty Images)
Sufjan Stevens (Getty Images)

US songwriter Sufjan Stevens has revealed he has been left unable to walk after suffering from a rare nerve condition.

Writing in an Instagram post, which he signed “yours truly from a wheelchair”, the 48-year-old musician said he had been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

He 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.

“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.”

He said he owed the doctors who treated him “my life” as they had prevented its spread to his lungs, heart and brain.

NHS guidance says most people “will eventually make a full recovery” from the illness which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages nerves.

It is not clear why it develops but the condition often happens after an infection including flu or gastroenteritis.

Grammy-nominated Stevens, who released his first album in 1999, said he was “undergoing intensive physical therapy/occupational therapy, strength building etc. to get my body back in shape and to learn to walk again”.

The New York-based musician has had an eclectic career with two albums inspired by US states, Michigan from 2003 and 2005’s Illinois, as well as collections inspired by biblical songs and another by the animals of the Chinese zodiac.

He was nominated for an Oscar in 2017 for his song Mystery of Love for the Timothee Chalamet film Call Me by Your Name.

Stevens is due to release his ninth album, Javelin, next month and explained to fans his lack of promotion and appearances in the press to support its release was due to the sudden illness.