Health Update

Seamus Kennedy

On October 3rd, 2021, (a date which will live in infamy, for me anyway,) I was stricken with Brachial Neuritis of unknown cause and origin which resulted in a Bilateral Partial Paralysis of the diaphragm. It can be caused by the flu, a cold, pneumonia, a traumatic injury, etc., none of which I’d had. The upshot being that it made breathing and singing very difficult; breathing while lying down is particularly hard, so I learned to sleep sitting upright, a skill that comes in handy while I’m driving.

I had a sleep test and then I was fitted for a Bipap machine which allows me to breathe lying down, and now I can sleep “normally” in a mask, headpiece and hose, so I look like Hannibal Lecter scuba-diving while sounding like Darth Vader.

After consulting with numerous specialists at John Hopkins, including a neuromuscular pulmonologist, a thoracic surgeon, a regular ol’ pulmonologist, a couple of neurologists and my gastroenterologist, (the only ones missing were a seismologist and an archaeologist), who
ordered a series of MRIs – Spinal Cord & Brain (they found one, yay!), Lumbar spine MRI, CT scans, X-rays, Blood draws, and Covid tests. They finally arrived at the conclusion that there is no known cure but that it can heal itself in a couple of years, possibly less.

Now, to add injury to insult as it were, I’ve had a painful torn left Rotator Cuff for a couple of years, which made holding and playing the guitar extremely difficult. Because of the Diaphragm Paralysis I was unable to lie flat to get anesthesia, which meant I couldn’t have surgery to repair the Rotator Cuff. Are you with me so far? Good

The good news is: at the suggestion of a friend, I’m trying some simple breathing exercises to try and kickstart my diaphragm into doing what it used to do, so that I can sing songs and tell jokes to drunks once more. Shouting loudly, singing as loudly as I can, trying to hold notes as long as I can, sudden, deep sniffing, and simple breathing as deeply as I can.

And…it seems to be having a positive effect; I notice my breathing improving in small increments, not enough to do a whole set of songs yet, but who knows?

As for the rotator cuff, I recently had a 30-minute in-office procedure where platelets were extracted from my blood and injected into the affected muscles. Hopefully, the platelets will begin to work their regenerative magic. 4 days with my arm in a sling, pain relievers, limited movement and after 4 weeks I should be able start rehab physical therapy to rebuild the muscle.

I want to thank everyone who has inquired about my health and well-being. I apologize for not letting you all know sooner and taking such a long time away from what I love doing – performing for you.

I want to thank the doctors and “ologists” who tried so hard to get a handle on the Diaphragm Paralysis. You’re all champions in my book!

And finally, I can’t wait for the day when I can hit the road again to entertain you all at festivals, clubs, pubs, one-nighters and other assorted gigs. Of course I’ll want to resume my tours to Ireland and Scotland as well as the riverboat cruises. There’s a lot of catching-up to do and I hope to see you out there as soon as I am able.

All my warmest regards to every one of you,

~ Seamus Kennedy ~