Alan Jackson Has Been Living With a Degenerative Nerve Condition
Jackson was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease 10 years ago. The inherited disorder — also known as CMT, “ironically enough,” the singer says, nodding to the country music-focused television channel and brand — causes nerve damage largely in the arms and legs, the Mayo Clinic explains, and can cause muscle contractions, a loss of sensation and difficulty walking. The Mayo Clinic notes that symptoms typically begin during adolescence or early adulthood, but can — as with Jackson, who was diagnosed in his early 50s — develop mid-life, too.
“There’s no cure for it, but it’s been affecting me for years. And it’s getting more and more obvious,” says Jackson. “And I know I’m stumbling around onstage. And now I’m having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable.”
CMT is not deadly, and it does not decrease the life expectancy of those who have it; in fact, Jackson shares that his grandmother, father and one of his sisters all inherited and lived with the disorder, too. However, there is no cure for the disease, and as interviewer Jenna Bush-Hager points out to her Today co-hosts at the end of her segment with Jackson, he doesn’t need assistance to walk yet, “but he will.”
Jackson tells Bush-Hager it’s a “relief” to share the news of his condition after so many years, because he’s been getting “self-conscious” about how he looks onstage. The news doesn’t mean he’s stepping out of the spotlight just yet, though.
“I never wanted to do the big retirement tour, like people do, then take a year off and then come back. I think that’s kinda cheesy,” Jackson says. “And I’m not saying I won’t be able to tour. I’ll try to do as much as I can.”
Jackson released his newest album, Where Have You Gone, in May. His only remaining tour date for 2021 is an Oct. 8 stop at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
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