NASHVILLE — For 10 years, country superstar Alan Jackson has kept a secret.
A degenerative nerve condition, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, has been systematically compromising smaller, weaker muscles in the two-time Grammy Award winner’s arms and legs, creating balance issues that have become more noticeable in recent years, Jackson told “Today” in an exclusive Tuesday interview.
The condition, also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy, affects the peripheral nervous system and causes balance problems by compromising smaller, weaker muscles in the body’s extremities, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“It’s not going to kill me. It’s not deadly,” Jackson told “Today,” noting that the hereditary condition is related to both muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s genetic that I inherited from my daddy ... There’s no cure for it, but it’s been affecting me for years. And it’s getting more and more obvious. And I know I’m stumbling around on stage. And now I’m having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable,” Jackson, 62, told the program from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, where he was a 2017 inductee.
No cure for CMT exists, but the condition can be managed with supportive therapy, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Despite the challenge performing presents when plagued by a chronic, degenerative condition, Jackson told “Today” that he has no intention of shunning the spotlight just yet.
“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. And I’m not saying I won’t be able to tour. I’ll try to do as much as I can,” he said, championing the unconditional support he receives daily from his wife of 41 years, Denise Jackson, and their three children.
“When I’m down, he lifts me up. When he’s down, I try to lift him up. The happy side of that is we’ve had a fairy-tale life,” Denise Jackson told “Today” about marrying her high school sweetheart.
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