In the end of 2013 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was a shock, but I went on a disease modifying therapy (DMT) and was able to be quiet about it for a decade. Many musicians I worked with knew, including my Ollabelle and Lost Leaders comrades and people at Levon Helm Studios. They respected my privacy about the disease. I didn’t make a big deal about it when I joined The Lumineers either, but then the pandemic brought on a lot of new symptoms, especially in my left leg. By the Brightside tour, my walk around the stage several times a night could feel like miles. Sometimes I’d say a little prayer before going out on the thrust stage. Thank goodness for the fans, because having them screaming for the music gave me motivation. I felt so fortunate to contribute to songs that meant so much to so many people, with the best bandmates in the world.

Each of us suffers from something. Now you know some of what I face and I hope it encourages you to dig deep, do what you love and throw everything you can at your own obstacles. For me vs MS that involves meditation, infusions, meds, PT, acupuncture, talk therapy and a band that fiercely has my back. I receive thoughtful medical care. I exercise and rest. I treasure friends and family, my small circle of fellow Buddhists in Brooklyn and my giant musical family. When offstage, I usually walk with a cane and a leg brace.
I have good friends in the disability world (including Theresa Sareo, who gave me my first gig in New York City) who encourage me to talk about MS realities because voicing difficulties can so often help others. So this is my shout-out to everyone in the ADA seats who maybe can’t stand up and dance but who get out to shows. For some of us, that feels like a miracle every time.