This is a silent disease finally seeing the light of awareness! To view the 25th Anniversary: Advocacy edition of The Lyme Times, go to LymeDisease.org.
This is a silent disease finally seeing the light of awareness! To view the 25th Anniversary: Advocacy edition of The Lyme Times, go to LymeDisease.org.
SO honored to be in such amazing company!!!
Also set for induction this year are music moguls Clive Davis, whose remarkable record label career has been instrumental in the careers of superstars ranging from Joel to Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys, and Ron Delsener, the concert promoter who has handled music’s biggest shows for decades and brought rock and roll concerts to Jones Beach. Broadway legend Patti LuPone and record-setting singer-songwriter Debbie Gibson will also enter the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, along with rapper Kurtis Blow, producer Steve Thompson, who has won Grammys for his work with Whitney Houston and Paul Simon, and songwriter Gerry Goffin.
For hotshot renegade doctor William P. Rush, the right music can make the whole day better — especially if there’s Debbie Gibson in the mix! In a sneak preview from USA’s upcoming medical drama, Rush, actor Tom Ellis can’t help but bop to the beat of Gibson’s “Only In My Dreams” while tooling around town in his Mercedes — however foolish it makes him look.
© (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)
Tune in to ABC on Saturday, May 31, from 9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., for the premiere of the summer series “Sing Your Face Off.” Debbie is the primary judge alongside Darrell Hammond on this talent variety competition featuring celebrities who are transformed and trained to perform as a legendary musical icon. John Barrowman is the host.
Photo by Gaby Sepulveda
I feel compelled to address a health related issue I have been dealing with. Last year, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. It is an elusive disease that disguises itself as many other things and creates a lot of pain and discomfort along the way.
At the start of 2013, I spent time both on the West and East Coast followed by travel overseas. I am not exactly sure when or where I picked it up, but, in the early spring, I began to show unusual symptoms. A lot of Lyme symptoms mimic symptoms of anxiety and stress. Friends kept saying, “Well, it’s only natural that you are a bit anxious!” I was about to start taping a network TV Show.
The first symptoms came in the form of food sensitivities. I found I could not touch sugar, starch, caffeine, certain oils, etc., without having a severe reaction that felt like jolts of electricity running through my body. I felt like a live wire. Talk about “Electric Youth!”
I started getting nerve pain and muscle fatigue in a way I never before had. My back would light up with fiery pain as cameras rolled. Every chance I got I would close my dressing room door and meditate or do some form of guided relations. I was extremely fatigued. I thought “Do I have mono or something?!?” I got tested for everything under the sun, though it did not occur to me, or my West Coast doctors, to test for Lyme. It is typically an East Coast thing.
After taping the first episode of the ABC show “Sing Your Face Off,” my back went out. I knew I had Gay Pride concerts to do in the NY area about 10 days later. I just kept resting and meditating and eating a ton of protein and fat to try to keep weight on… egg yolks, red meat, you name it! But the weight kept failing off and I had a gaunt and “spinewy” look and felt extremely fragile as well as emotional and depressed. I could barely walk. I started feeling numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, which is very disconcerting for a pianist and dancer to say the least. Night sweats, chills, fever, nerve tremors, nightmares, and migraine headaches were at a fever pitch without a minute of relief.
Lifted by the love of my hometown crowd, Long Island Pride rocked! Though, after the show, a fan jokingly commented, “Get this girl a burger.” I took that fan’s advice and forced down a burger. It got me through the next show.
During the next several months, I would continue to cycle in and out of this flu like state and my doctors, unable to see me in person due to my touring schedule, would deduce by phone I had H Pylori or maybe an upper respiratory infection. I was put on Z paks, Amoxicillin and Dixilant. These combos of meds made me feel considerably better. But I would only stay on a typical 10-day course. With Lyme, it takes cocktails of numerous meds for long stints to truly cure it as well as all its co-infections. The symptoms would be staved off for a few weeks then return. I kept performing and filming through the discomfort. I refused to be a “patient” or a “victim.” Though I still had not gotten to the bottom of what was going on, I kept saying to myself, “this is temporary,” as I felt like I was disappearing. I lacked vital energy… a shell of myself.
Somewhere along the way, my body could no longer tolerate the amount of fat I was eating. If there is any doubt that starch and sugar and grains is what keeps weight on, I had confirmation. At times, my boyfriend would insist I eat some pasta and butter, even though I did not feel great doing it.”You need to gain weight,” he would say. My spine was frail and unprotected. He was right. So, when I had a few days to deal with the discomfort, I would purposely eat things that would “stick to my ribs” so to speak.
But, the fat consumption began to affect my gall bladder. Or, maybe there was a GB coinfection, due to the Lyme. I found myself, moments from going on stage with bands and symphonies around the country, in nearly debilitating stabbing pain. It was hard to breathe, let alone sing. In a last ditch effort, before going to a hospital to potentially get it removed, I did a very intense cleanse. WOW. It was life altering. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say… it worked! I felt such tremendous relief.
But, the symptoms returned. I was not absorbing water properly and could not drink enough of it to stay hydrated. Because of this, my appearance was pretty harsh. I was self conscious about the deep lines on my forehead. I got a call right at that moment to do a cameo in the 3rd “Mega Shark” installment. I hated the thought of appearing on camera looking so gaunt and depleted. I went to a dermatologist to see about a peel or any treatment that may help cover the lines and signs of whatever was going on, and she suggested Botox. Just as casually as you say, “pass the salt.” I usually do tons of research and due diligence before undergoing any treatment, but, in a knee jerk reaction, I said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” I completely forgot there is a word TOX in BOTOX. It is a POISON.
With Lyme still undiagnosed, both the trauma of the needles and the toxin itself wreaked absolute havoc on my physical and mental state. I will NEVER put this or any other toxin into my body for vanity reasons EVER again. I hope anyone out there considering this approach takes this as a precaution. Some never have any reaction, but on the other end of the spectrum is my experience.
Five days after the treatment, I was texting my boyfriend and he noticed I was mixing up my words. I had trouble with directions and driving. I was terrified. This was like pouring gasoline on an already lit fire. The tremors intensified and now I had tingling and pain in my head, along with migraines. I had no idea my immune system was so compromised to begin with, and now this. I learned a very big lesson… the hard way.
Eventually, I sought more medical care. So many of my doctors throughout my lifetime were of the more natural realm or ENT docs for my voice. My boyfriend, Dr. Rutledge, is always there to advise, as I received outside medical care. It was time to broaden my reach beyond just voice doctors and energy work practitioners, who helped me through much of the year. A wonderful practitioner named Dr. James Stoxen did a lot of work with me on improving my circulation in an attempt to help the body heal itself. It helped me get through some intense appearances, performances in sub zero temperatures, and the holiday parade in Chicago. I am so thankful to have had care and support, while looking for the underlying cause.
I thought at one point the issues were hormonal and an OBGYN performed, what would later be found to be an unnecessary procedure, which would cause the worst Lyme flare to date. I had just started to rebuild a bit through proper eating and rest, and this trauma set me back light years. My niece Diana brought me water and soup in NYC after this horrendous event, as I could not get out of bed. I decided to pull the plug on all work and would stop at nothing to figure this thing out, once and for all.
My back doctor, Dr. Gabriel Hunt, referred me to Dr. John Eneyati (Century Wellness). He ran some tests, which led him to refer me to GI doc, Dr. Rahbar (LA Integrative GI). He first discovered SIBO and immune deficiencies and tested me for Lyme. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I tested positive for Lyme. Western Blot and all the rest that followed… positive, positive, positive.
To clear my head, I went for a bike ride with Rutledge. I broke down in tears – “I don’t have the strength for this… a simple bike ride.” This from a girl who is used to dancing on stage for hours and running stadium steps!
In looking back and wracking my brain, yes, I did indeed have a few bug bites in the spring. Who doesn’t? Especially if you play in outdoor parks with nieces and nephews. It’s par for the course! It even made me think, “Maybe this has been going on for years.” It apparently is chronic and lays dormant in people for decades. Hmmmmm…
I was referred to Lyme Literate Doctor, Specialist Dr. Joseph Sciabarassi. I remember sitting in his office, despondent. “I am in here somewhere,” I said through tears. By this point, my cognitive thinking had been affected… my sense of direction, sleep, moods, stamina, muscles and joints. And, I had this sunken in look and dark circles under my eyes. All the times you saw me on Vine, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube laughing and singing, I used concealer to cover that up and pulled from my reserves to bring you my best.
The doc and his staff gave me Vitamin IV drips, daily. I lived in that office. Dr. Joe performed acupuncture on me, himself, to help alleviate the back pain. I told a select group of people what I was going through. They showed tremendous support.
I went on an intense regime of antibiotics and other medications to wipe out the Lyme. Ironically, it was wiping ME out as well!!!! It was as if I had a personality transplant. There was a plateau moment were the meds were helping. The regime definitely got me a over a major hurdle. I sat at the piano for hours… something I had been unable to do for quite some time. Certain cognitive symptoms were getting better. The nerve tremors, which were like somebody running an electric current through my nerves shaking me awake from the inside out, were a thing of the past.
It was time to head to South America to perform. I was still dealing with terrible back pain and instabilities and the weight continued to roll off. I was painfully aware of my appearance. I am an advocate of being lean and healthy and toned. Not skeletal.
Amidst the posts online celebrating the wonderful concerts in Santiago, I would come across comments about my weight and appearance. Some were just plain mean and ignorant. I want to urge you all… NEVER JUDGE… ANYONE! You never know what someone is going through. These comments hurt the people writing them… not me.
I am still in this process and undergoing treatment. But, beyond just “glimmers of hope,” I actually feel like “ME” again. These last round of shows have been therapeutic and uplifting. We all face challenges and I am learning much from the ones I am facing. No disease in the body can keep the spirit from soaring, the love from pouring, and, nothing can stop the music!
Keep rockin’ through whatever adversity is presenting it self. We all face challenges. Let it flow on through. It has no power over you!
With love and thanx for your concern and loyalty,
Please email all questions and comments to DebbieGibsonHealth@gmail.com.
See for yourself Debbie’s “coming out” performance in Chile:
“Shake Your Love” – Hit Parade 2014
“Lost In Your Eyes” – Hit Parade 2014
“80s Medley” – Hit Parade 2014
“Electric Youth” – Hit Parade 2014
“Only In My Dreams” – Hit Parade 2014
I am still on a high from one of the most long awaited and BEST touring experiences EVER!
When I was invited, approximately 6 months ago, to come perform 2 concerts in Santiago, Chile, I was ecstatic. It had been a long overdue live experience I wanted to share with my South American audience. I have long received fan letters from this part of the world and now, with social media, have become acutely aware of just how far reaching impact music in general, and much to my delight – my music, has had throughout the years.
After what would be the most challenging year of my life (more on that in a forthcoming blog) I packed my bags with custom designed costumes by Gabriel Krueger and shoes by Marie Osmond’s daughter Rachael to head South. We left in the middle of the night and travelled about 24 hours, door to door, but arrived with such excitement the exhaustion didn’t stand a chance. Paulina from Bizarro Productions, the show promoters, greeted us. Shortly after arriving, I began my press days. I felt so open and vulnerable to the heartfelt, sincere energies that came my way from the radio hosts and fans alike.
A stand out interview was with interviewer Esteban Aparicio and photographer Alfredo of Caras Magazine.
Another stand out interview was with Daniel Fuenzalida from RadioActiva.
I particularly loved chatting with Teresa Hale from Romantica 104.1 FM about the issues surrounding the modern day woman, as I found, much like music, it is a connective thread that transcends geography!
A few interviews got cancelled and texts of concern poured in regarding the earthquakes and tsunami warnings. We were OK in Santiago, but our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected. Lives first, pop music later.
My team (#TeamDeb) arrived shortly thereafter with Devon, Buddy, Eddie, Ray, Joey, Paul, Heather, and Elizabeth in tow. I was so thrilled to see my friends in this beautiful country! Working with people I love and who have genuine love for me is what it is all about. Sharing this experience with them was a bonding of a unique kind.
Show day number one was approaching and we had a vocal rehearsal in a hotel ballroom and a band rehearsal with local musicians Fer, Natalia, and Leo, and soundman Rob, in a garage studio… MUY CALIENTE. Ahhhhh the glamour! The week brought some health challenges, but there is nothing like music to heal, lift and help one RISE!
A particularly memorable night in Santiago was had at Aquí Está Coco. I usually hibernate before shows and don’t do anything social, but I wanted to partake in the amazing food Chile has to offer… and I wasn’t disappointed!
FINALLY, after what seemed like an eternity (26 years and some months!) the “Hit Parade Side Show” at Blondie was upon us! In the US we do not know of this concept but, I decided early on this show would be a one of a kind intimate experience for TRUE #DEBHEADS! I knew after seeing the two videos made for me by the Fan Facebook/Twitter Group, now lovingly known as the South American Seven AKA #SouthAmerican7 (oooooh…documentary anyone?!? I just got chills!), I wanted to do something extra special for them. And, by communing intimately with them, it also represented ALL fans, which may not ever have the opportunity to be up close and personal with their favorite artist. I know when Elton and Billy invited me on stage, even though I already had records out, the fan in me was beside myself!
I opened the show with some upbeat songs like “Proud Mary” and “Anything Is Possible,” which would not be performed at Movistar Arena. I wanted this show to be EXCLUSIVE! After a little while, I showed the video tribute and brought the #SouthAmerican7, Ariel, Brian, Carlos, Fernando, Gabriel, Gaby, and Mariano, on stage gathered around the piano on stools. I began chatting with them and taking in their extraordinary love for me, and the music, and was overwhelmed. I truly felt like they, and the entire crowd was in my living room. In the emotion of the moment I kept mixing up Ariel and Fernando…what can I say? I was a Blondie at Blondie! LOL
But, I enjoyed the spontaneity of it all and surprised myself by taking some requests like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and a piece of a new song called “Calle,” an impromptu request by my boyfriend Rutledge, inspired by the roads of Ecuador and the idea we all have our own road to follow in life that is uniquely ours. It was a terrifying and exhilarating moment to debut that song!
The most emotional moment came when I performed “For Better or Worse” for Fernando who lost the love of his life Laura exactly 12 years ago on the day of the concert. Seeing the emotion come over him was something I will never forget. This song was also requested by Ariel and a few others and moved me because it was never a big hit back home. I always said even though a handful of people bought the “Think With Your Heart” album, the impact it made on folks is priceless. I credit Brian Koppleman with exec producing this album at a time where no one wanted to see me do this kind of music. It is a priceless gift he flew to the UK when I was there doing “Grease” to say, “Let me here your new songs…just you and the piano. THIS is your unique gift and I want to help you make this album….” Was it worth it Laura? Fernando? YES!
I went on to ask the band to improv a different more acoustic version of “Out of the Blue” as well as “Should’ve Been the One” and “We Could Be Together“! THAT took me back having all of you on stage with me like I used to do on the EY Tour! WHAT FUN!
Photo credit: Caique Cunha
After the show I met the South American Seven (#SouthAmerican7)! I presented them with small gifts and then one by one they proceeded to present me each with the most thoughtful personal gifts ever. My career used to be a blur. So much passed me by. I am determined from this point on to take every moment in and savor it and not always be rushing off somewhere.
Boy did I sleep hard!!! I awoke and went off to sound check at Movistar Arena for Hit Parade! I am at once at home in small clubs as I am in large arenas. It just feels like a BIGGER living room!
The band and sound were ROCKIN’ and I had only 3 minutes to go over “1989,” the piece of the new song I would be debuting that night. Whew!
I went back to the hotel and napped and meditated – something I do daily. I know how much energy I expend at night so I keep bringing the energy inward and resting down and picturing the individuals who are attending the show and how much they saved up for that ticket and how long they have waited for this show. I take that and the fans VERY seriously and make the vow always to SHOW UP with ALL I AM! You can never predict if things will go wrong, if the voice will fault (though I have come to learn that when it does it is a unique and beautiful imperfectly perfect thing) but I CAN be sure whatever I have to offer that moment… I will give it ALL to the people.
My Mama Diane found this exquisite dress for me to wear for “Hit Parade!”
Nothing is more petrifying to me than delivering a ballad before dancing and burning off some of the adrenal stored up. BUT, I thought it would be unique and strong and surprising to come out with NO fanfare or bells and whistles and open on a new song that feels like a reflective look back, but is essentially about the fact that if one is truly present in their own life, every moment is NOW and there is no part… or “rewind”… it is STILL our time… 1989.
“1989” is symbolic of the fact who we are and what others mean to us, or what music means to us, etc., is TIMELESS! I had tweaked some lyrics to truncate the storyline and some were delivered as I wanted…others not…but I went out on a limb and then launched into the upbeat familiar songs like “Shake Your Love” and a new version of “Foolish Beat“! I loved doing the rip away costume reveal and had that mini dress specially made with colors that, to me, reflected the joy and vitality of South America!
I did a costume change while my team brought the house down with “Don’t Stop Believing.” From Ray Garcia’s first soaring notes the crowd was on its feet! I loved changing in my dressing room, hearing that the party was still going! I returned to do a slower and deeper version of “Losin’ Myself” that I collaborated with Sturken and Rogers on over half my lifetime ago. Only now did I feel I could TRULY embody the meaning of that song. I have lived some life and am not a little girl playing “dress up.” It was exhilarating to breath new life experience into this lost treasure. And I felt BAD ASS in Gabriel’s custom designed cat suit! SO fun to rock a power kitty suit!
Photo credit: Sergio Cortese
Other highlight for me was performing “Rise.” I love doing something slightly unknown and uplifting, and I was thrilled to be able to perform this with Rutledge in the audience, as he produced and directed the documentary “3 Billion and Counting” and this song was the title track. It is about the indefatigable human spirit. Other highlight was the 80’s Medley. I love letting the audience in on MY influences from one of the best musical eras ever. I even dragged my bare feet THAT much longer while doing the moonwalk in honor of the ONE AND ONLY MJ!!! He lives on whenever we honor him!
Photo credit: Sergio Cortese
I was also SO moved hearing the audience’s overpowering chorus of “Lost in Your Eyes” in English. THAT blew my mind! It never gets old. I did a verse translated by my new pal Juan Carlos Silva from the band Dr. Vena … everything sounds romantic in Spanish!
Photo credit: Sergio Cortese
After the show I got to put my hands in cement to be honored on the Paseo de las Estrellas at Movistar!
I also watched some of Rick’s brilliant show.
I then went to do a meet and greet and, again, lapped up every ounce of the audience members’ love and enthusiasm.
How healing and wonderful. What a gift!
I extended my stay beyond the shows to enjoy a trip to a vineyard brunch with the promoters Alfredo and Jaime, Rick and his lovely wife Lene, Deon Estus (I have long idolized his musicianship!) and the gang.
I then did a brief stay in the heart of the city to meander around and eat at cafes and get the vibe of the people. I LOVE the flavors and influence of Europe as well as Latin America. I am truly at home here.
As I get ready to head back, it is with love in my heart and a lot of humility. As mentioned in the start of this blog, I have been faced with unspoken challenges as of late and it is TRULY on the wings of the PEOPLE OF SOUTH AMERICA that I have been CARRIED over hard to mount hurdles to what will forever remain as a victorious and humbling and moving experience of epic proportions. I cannot wait to return and tour extensively through all of South America…and beyond!
MUCHAS GRACIAS Y BESOS!