Lindsey Bever (c) 2014, The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — On Monday night, conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck admitted to keeping a secret. He has been sick for years. He has had pain and numbness, vocal paralysis, sleep disorders and, occasionally, seizures so intense he curled into a fetal position. He said he’s cured now — and he wanted to talk about it.
“I have never lied to you, but I have omitted a few really important facts because — they scared me,” he said during a broadcast on his network TheBlazeTV. “I didn’t have any answers, and the answers I was being given at the time meant … the end of our time together.”
Beck then opened up about the unexplained symptoms that he said have been plaguing him for years. Only those closest to him, including a few colleagues, knew what was happening to Beck — and how to cover it up.
Beck said the mysterious illnesses started to creep up on him some five years ago during his “Restoring Honor” event in Washington, D.C. He suffered vocal cord paralysis, eyesight issues, seizures and severe pain in his limbs. During his broadcast, Beck showed footage of him having an apparent seizure while he was coming out of surgery.
“Most afternoons my hands would start to shake, or my hands and feet began to curl and eventually — if I didn’t stop and rest, I began to curl into a fetal position,” he said. “This has baffled some of the best doctors in the world. It has frightened me and my family, and I didn’t know what was happening.”
Before he left Fox News, the conservative commentator said he had worked out hand signals to let his executive producer know when he was in too much pain to continue — feeling like someone had taken his hands and feet, or arms and legs, and “set them on fire or pushed broken glass into them,” he said. Then his producer would cut away.
His current co-hosts at TheBlaze, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere, have had to cover for him mid-sentence as well.
Now, after months of treatment and lifestyle changes, he said, “my brain is back online in a big way.”
Beck did not offer a name for whatever was wrong with him. There was a sleep disorder, he said. The problem wasn’t that Beck couldn’t get enough shuteye, but that he didn’t need more than a few hours — a phenomenon he considered a strength in his line of work. But then, “life became fuzzy,” he said.
“This was happening at the same time the pain was becoming a very real issue,” he said. “They told me there was no connection between the two. Then came macular dystrophy and vocal paralysis — all disconnected, so they thought.”
Beck said that’s when he started noticing “the first sign of trouble.” He said he started to forget names and faces. He said he would remember having conversations but couldn’t remember when. Then he said he lost them altogether. He calls it his “time collapse.”
For years, Beck said, doctors couldn’t seem to help him. Each one had a different diagnosis and a different treatment. One told him to take a year off and spend time with his family. But the most frightening discovery, he said, came in New York about 18 months ago when doctors tested him for traumatic brain injury — and the results were not good.
“I did so poorly on this test the doctors shared the results with my wife and didn’t focus on them with me. I never wanted to see the results,” he said. “I knew I was functioning at about the bottom 10 percent. I knew when I couldn’t figure out simple math problems or remember a series of words I was in real trouble.”
Beck finally decided to move from New York to Texas, hoping warm weather would help his condition. In Irving, he found a rehabilitation clinic called the Carrick Brain Centers, which specializes in experimental therapies. It’s where he was diagnosed with several health issues, including an autoimmune disorder, which he didn’t name, and adrenal fatigue.
Beck said, for the first time, the answers started coming. He said doctors told him his immune system was seeing his adrenaline as an infection and attacking it. He said they told him that the final sign of adrenal failure is hyperextension of his adrenal glands, which is why he didn’t need sleep during his time at Fox News. “But now that I had blown out my system, all I could do is sleep,” he added.
“Over the last 10 months, I did all kinds of tests and therapies, which included everything from electric stimulation to weird gyroscope tests like the astronauts use where they’re flipping you around,” Beck said in his interview. “After months of treatment and completely changing the way I eat, sleep, work and live, along with ongoing hormone treatment and intensive physical therapy, I have reversed the process.