Country music veteran Alan Jackson has recently opened up to the media about his life with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Tuesday, the 62-year-old told NBC “Today” that there is “no cure” for the degenerative neurological syndrome, which he has struggled with for nearly a decade. The diagnosis timeline, as he recounts it, has finally shed light on the beloved artist’s absence from the limelight of late.
The “Chattahoochee” singer assured viewers that the disease, caused by a genetic mutation he inherited from his father, “is not going to kill him.” However, it has affected their ability to perform, or even appear on live broadcasts.
“It becomes more and more obvious. And I know I’m stumbling on stage And now I have some trouble balancing myself, even in front of the microphone, so I feel very uncomfortable, “he explained.
Like other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a group of disorders that cause nerve damage, inhibiting the brain and spinal cord from communicate with the rest of the body. according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The motor nerves connected to the arms, hands, legs, and feet are often affected in CMT patients, causing muscle weakness, atrophy, and eventually, for some, paralysis in certain extremities. Foot deformities, such as hammer toes, are also common as the muscles are locked in a state of contraction.
Meanwhile, fine motor skills are lost and patients can become desensitized to physical stimuli as axons in their sensory nerves lose the ability to transmit information to the brain, including important sensory signals such as extreme heat or cold. or even human contact.
The diagnosis occurs after a complete physical examination and the family history is reviewed by physicians, looking for signs of muscle weakness and loss, poor reflexes, sensory loss, and foot deformities. Genetic testing is a final step for some, as blood samples can detect many types of CMT, according to the NIH.
Despite the physical obstacles, Jackson has insisted that he won’t finish until he’s done. “I never wanted to do the big retirement tour, like people do, then take a year off and then come back,” he told attendees of the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017, revealing that he hopes to be able to come back. to the stage over and over again.
And he did so last summer, putting aside his own health problems during the height of the pandemic. In July 2020, the “Livin ‘On Love” singer took to the platform of a drive-in movie theater in Alabama for back-to-back socially estranged concerts, drawing a crowd of about 12,000 in total.
Of the event, he told CBS Sunday Morning last year, “I thought this would be a fun way to let people get out of the house and enjoy live music.”