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Everclear's Art Alexakis reveals multiple sclerosis diagnosis

Art Alexakis performs during the Summerland Tour 2015

Art Alexakis performs during the Summerland Tour 2015 in Atlanta.   Credit: AP / Invision / Robb D. Cohen

Singer-songwriter Art Alexakis of the alt-rock band Everclear has revealed he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"Three years ago I was in an automobile accident, and though I totaled my car, I am thankful that no one involved was seriously hurt," Alexakis, 56, wrote Tuesday on the band's official website. "About two weeks later, I started feeling a tingle and numbness in my arm" and went in for tests. His neurologist informed him he had a form of MS known as relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), characterized by periods of intense symptoms and periods of normalcy, "and that I have had it for anywhere between 10 to 20 years. I went and sat in my car and called my wife, and cried for about half an hour. I'm sure people in the parking lot thought I was losing it, and I guess I kind of was."

The rocker, whose 1990s hits with Everclear include "Santa Monica," "Everything to Everyone" and "Father of Mine," went on to say, "The more I found out about MS, the more a lot of things started making sense. It explains why I have had balance and gait problems for the last ten years, it helps explain why I have had a higher sensitivity to heat and cold, and why I don't have the energy, vigor, and razor sharp memory that I had ten years ago. I thought it was just me getting older."

Placed on a thrice-weekly regimen of medical injections to help alleviate symptoms, Alexakis said he went public because of rumors "that I am drinking again or back on drugs because they have seen me look unsteady on stage or around town …. I wanted you to know the truth, simple as that." Saying he is working on his first solo album and an accompanying tour, he assured that "if you see me stumbling...sweaty, looking both tired and anxious at the same time, maybe a little more confused than usual, or forgetting lyrics yet looking happy (which is weird for me), please know that I have not fallen off the wagon. I am just learning how to be the new me.” 

MS, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that is treatable but incurable, expresses symptoms that can include loss of balance, muscle spasms and tremors, and excessive fatigue. Approximately 400,000 Americans suffer from the disorder, the precise cause of which is unknown. But with medication and treatment, say doctors, many patients can lead largely normal lives.

Among those diagnosed with MS are former "Sopranos" star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who was raised in Jericho, and, with RRMS specifically, Courtney Galiano, the Dix Hills native who was a season-four finalist on "So You Think You Can Dance" and went on to perform in that show's live tour and acting roles. Others include actors Selma Blair, Teri Garr and David Lander, TV personalities Neil Cavuto, Jack Osbourne and Montel Williams, and NASCAR champion Trevor Bayne.

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