Glenn Beck on Monday revealed the true extent of his health issues, saying he can no longer keep what has happened a secret from his friends, his staff or audience, whom he considers to be his family.
If you have sensed a change in Beck -- maybe you even thought he was losing interest in his program -- Beck said it is because he was told he may only have several functional years left, and his health conditions were causing such excruciating pain that it was difficult to do live programming.
"Tonight's show is not for the casual fan or, really, anyone in the press," Beck said. "This is a one-on-one between friends. No one in the media ever does a show like this, because it is crazy. ... But I believe that by not talking with you openly, it destroys everything of real meaning and value -- namely, our trust."
"I have never lied to you, but I have omitted a few really important facts because -- they scared me," Beck admitted, beginning to swallow back tears. "I didn't have any answers, and the answers I was being given at the time meant ... the end of our time together."
Beck said that five years ago, around the time of his Restoring Honor event in Washington, D.C., God began to tell him that he was standing in the wrong place. At around the same time, his health issues began, starting with vocal cord paralysis, eyesight problems and what doctors at first believed was a painful form of neuropathy.
"While I was at Fox, the pain would get so bad that my camera crew, our executive producer Tiffany and I, had worked out hand signals so they would know when to take the camera off of me," Beck revealed. "We didn't know at the time what was causing me to feel as though, out of nowhere, my hands and feet, or arms and legs would feel like someone had just crushed them, set them on fire or pushed broken glass into them."
Beck said that while he was in intense pain, something unusual was happening that he actually thought was an advantage in his business: he only ever needed two to four hours of sleep a night.
"Doctors tell me that up until recently, I hadn't had a real REM sleep in maybe as long as a decade," Beck said. "I didn't have a dream that I remember, except one in a decade. And quite honestly, this isn't a symptom you look to fix if you have a ton to do. But the first sign of trouble I noticed was what I call a 'time collapse.' If we had met before, I couldn't tell you if it was a month ago, a year ago or when we were in high school. I then began to lose names to faces and over time, entire conversations would go away."
Beck said doctors told him it was normal for someone processing as much information as he was, and the phenomenon has been discussed by figures like Winston Churchill.
"While essential facts remained, life became fuzzy," Beck continued. "This was happening at the same time the pain was becoming a very real issue. They told me there was no connection between the two. Then came macular dystrophy and vocal paralysis -- all disconnected, or so they thought."
Beck said a string of doctors, medications and diets only left him with more questions, and none really improved his condition. His health issues were among the reasons he decided to move to Dallas -- a warmer climate than New York City.
"Then ... my body began going into a seizure-like state," Beck said, adding that the episodes most frequently occurred on planes or after a large performance or speech.
"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," Beck 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."
Beck said that shortly before the convulsions began, he checked into a hospital in New York City for extensive testing, and asked some of the best doctors in the world to look at him.
In one of the most frightening moments of his life, he was tested for traumatic brain injury and found that he was functioning in the bottom tenth percentile.
"I was told at the time that I had anywhere between five and ten years before I would no longer be able to function," Beck said, pausing to collect himself. "I was told to go home, take at least a year off, and enjoy the days with my children."
"My pivot point came one night shortly after returning home," Beck continued. "We were all in the kitchen as a family and I had an attack. ... I saw the faces of my children, and the idea that I would someday not remember them, nor would I remember my soon-to-be-born grandchild, hit me like a bag of bricks. And we looked at each other and I asked, 'What am I doing? Maybe we should all move up to the mountains and spend all the time I have left together.'"
Beck said his doctors told him that if he didn't stop working, his condition would get worse. But he was "haunted" by the fact that doctors told him to stop, and God did not.
Beck said his "ability to function grew to be so bad" that they were forced to do more taped pieces for television, and on radio, Beck's co-hosts Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere -- two of a handful of people who knew about Beck's condition -- would sometimes have to cover for Beck in the middle of a sentence.
"People, even my senior staff began to ask: 'Does Glenn even care about what we are building?' They didn't know," Beck said. "The answer was, 'Yes, deeply.' But it was growing harder for me every day to focus. I didn't know at the time, but my left brain was losing a great deal of functionality."
Beck said that for personal and professional reasons, he did not want to share what was happening to him until now. But he said it grew "almost impossible to hide" his condition as time went on.
Gray had to fill in at the last minute during a concert series with the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras, and once, his friends and his wife had to carry him from an airplane to a hotel room.
But Beck said his wife, Tania, had it the hardest. Beck began to cry as he recalled how, on the many days he could not feel his hands or they were in extraordinary pain, she would tie his shoes or button his shirts.
Tania did it all "with kindness, love and joy," Beck said, wiping away tears. "It has taught us about our marriage, and it has made our marriage very, very strong."
"Meanwhile, while this was going on, I had a company to run. Over the last two years, I began to search for my replacements," Beck said. "Pat and Stu for my radio show, Buck Sexton or Dana for TV. Almost everyone in my company has been looked at for what piece of me they could fill. But the hardest part to fill was someone that could think completely out of the box creatively, and knew how to tell a story."
Beck found that person in Ben McPherson, a masterful painter and filmmaker who heads the American Dream Labs.
"Just as we were finishing Man in the Moon ... I told him everything about what was going on, and asked him if he would do me a favor," Beck said. "I asked him if he would learn all of these stories and complete each tale, if the time would ever come that I could no longer remember them."
Beck said his condition continued to get worse, and he began to believe that maybe he did need to walk away from everything to spend more time with his family.
"I asked God: 'Am I done? Can I put my sword down now?' The answer was always 'No,'" Beck recalled.
That was when Beck found the Carrick Brain Centers, a place that he has seen "work miracles" on people.
"After a few short visits, they found that I had several things going on, from an autoimmune disorder to adrenal fatigue. They also found the connection to everything that was going on, and for the first time gave us hope that we could reboot my system -- not just stop it, but reverse things," Beck said. "Me never having to sleep was finally understandable. The last sign of adrenal failure is a hyperextension of your adrenal glands. In other words, I didn't need sleep. I could have been lifting cars during my time at Fox!"
"But now that I had blown out my system, all I could do is sleep," Beck continued. "My immune system was looking at these natural hormones as an infection and so my body was trying to kill its most basic functions. I also appeared at the time to be in the early stages of Addison's disease."
Beck said his doctors told him he should not have been standing, and only his faith in God had kept him moving. If he had remained in New York City, they said he probably wouldn't be alive today.
"Over the last ten 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 remarked. "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. Some of the physical scars will be with me for the rest of my life ... but my brain is back online in a big way."
Beck said the story is so remarkable that, if he and his wife hadn't lived it, they wouldn't believe it.
During his last day of therapy this summer, Beck took the traumatic brain injury test once more and the results showed him to be in the 90th percentile. He has since received a clean bill of health.
"Rush Limbaugh says he does the show with half his brain tied behind his back," Beck joked. "With me, it's actually been true. But now, it's back online."
"Why am I telling you all of this? Because you and I are family, and for us to survive, we need to trust each other," Beck said. "When I first spoke of my alcoholic pivot point on the air in the 90s, I was actually trying to end my career. But It had the opposite effect. I got to know my audience for the first time, and I realized we are all hiding something, whether it is physical, mental or spiritual pain. We need to know that we are all in this together."
Beck said his health condition gave him yet another pivot point, and everything he does now has "new meaning," and will change to focus on "love and truth and reconciliation."
"For those who question why I have been saying, 'We need to love one another,' they didn't know that when you are faced with a real shortened timeline of your life, you begin to measure everything and its worth," Beck said.
"Maybe you didn't even notice, but I have been gone," Beck concluded. "But I'm happy to say, I'm back. But with all of this time left, what do I spend it on? I have pivoted. I know what life is about and it isn't about money, fame or division. It isn't about politics or a 5 p.m. TV show that continues to highlight problems. This summer we went into production on a pilot that will completely change what I do on TV. But that really is only one piece. In the macro, it's about me changing me and you changing you."
Beck said no one is telling stories to help America hold onto its children, and "we need to tell the stories of love and courage where the good guys win."
"I downloaded the best stories I have ever written, stories I feel I was born to tell," Beck said. "Now they all fit together, and Ben and I are ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work, as we continue to build TheBlaze and this network. We will become the change that we seek. With your help, we will start a revolution of hope. I choose hope."
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