Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Daryl Hall wants people to take illness seriously, says 'it can make you wanna die'
Hall feels the medical community is under-diagnosing the disease, that the treatment is not as simple as it seems and that chronic Lyme disease needs to be acknowledged as a serious health issue
Daryl Hall, singer, songwriter and producer, known as the lead vocalist of Hall & Oates has not shied away from bringing awareness to Lyme disease, an illness he too has suffered from. The illness presents with an array of symptoms that can render the victim completely helpless as a diagnosis is hard to come across. Hall was diagnosed in 2006 and in 2011, he told he Healthline that he had been bitten so many times over the years that "I think it finally reached a critical mass and I crashed and burned about five years ago."
Hall chronicled his experience with Lyme telling the publication that his first few symptoms included him having a fever that he thought was his body reacting to allergies. The singer revealed that the list of things that he was allergic to kept increasing and they were "strange." "I suddenly got this really outrageous allergy to celery, where my eyes and face swelled up like a pumpkin and I’d been eating celery my whole life, so I thought that was strange. Another time my left arm and hand started shaking and I started getting tremors. Then this weird thing started happening with alcohol. I’m not a heavy drinker, but I suddenly had a major sensitivity to alcohol, where I’d have one drink and I would go to the moon," said Hall.
After experiencing a high fever neck stiffness, and tremors, Hall revealed he had no idea what it was and got tested for Ehrlichia - another tick-borne disease. "About a week after that, I learned that I had six or seven tick-borne diseases," said Hall. The singer said that his first reaction was a relief, but he had no idea what was about to come. Hall visited a doctor to help him with his Lyme diagnosis and understand the severity of it, which the singer said was depressing. "During the time I was going to him, I’d see some of his patients in the waiting room and what I saw was just nightmarish. These were people who were crying, screaming, their hair was falling out, all sorts of stuff. What I was seeing in those people were the worst-case scenarios of this disease and it was scary."
After the singer was first diagnosed he had to cancel a tour revealing to Healthline that when the disease first hit, he had to take medications immediately. Talking to Seacoast in 2008 he said: “I have good days and bad days. I was fine for four months then I might have tremors, headaches, fatigue. It’s like a roving street gang of germs. There’s no cure, but you can control it."
Hall tried to make it through, but it was too much at that time: "I tried really hard to work through it in the very beginning and I made it to a show out in Phoenix, but I collapsed. That’s when I knew I had to stop." The actor revealed in 2011 to the publication that at that time he did continue to have flare-ups but they were not "debilitating". "These flare-ups aren’t something that I can’t live with onstage. I can handle it," said Hall speaking of when he came back months later. Mirror reported that Hall said that the illness "can make you wanna die if you're not dead."
While the symptoms and the disease are said to be helped by antibiotics, in 2008, an article by Seacoast reported that Hall feels like the disease is being underdiagnosed by professionals in the medical community. Hall is an advocate for Chronic Lyme disease to be recognized as a health battle: “There are two very, very strong-feeling camps. One camp is really sure that if you’re bitten by a tick you get tests, medicine. But with the chronic disease, that won’t put a dent in it. It manifests in so many ways. It can lead to heart disease, depression. It can be so serious that people have died. It’s a battle," said Hall. “I find that when I talk about this, I’m going to get some doctor who says that I’m full of crap, that it’s not really as prevalent as we say. But they’re wrong and I’m right. I’m one of the people on the front lines, one of the people who suffer. It’s very controversial."
May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and it brings an opportunity for Lyme patients, activists and educators to share tips and open up about Lyme and tick-borne diseases. In this column, we highlight the struggles of celebrities and talk about preventive and cure measures.