All those who have been following me for a while will know I'm currently in Canada treating a decade long battle i've had with various complex health problems.
I sat down with my doctor last week and he explained that because I had gone so long without the right treatment my body was in a worse way than I initially anticipated.
The obvious markers of pathology were antibodies to the myelin in my brain, thyroid, adrenals, and bones and a condition called Mast Cell Activation Disorder which would explain my symptom picture quite well. To put it simply my immune cells have been attacking my own body. Because my immune systems been compromised by years of basically being at war by itself it has also held on to some long standing viral infections and not been able to detox things like mould/heavy metals/and toxins properly.
Because of the extent of the damage the road to recovery isn’t going to be as quick as I’d hoped and I’ll be here for the next 6 months having daily IV’s and various treatments then have to make trips back over the course of the next year or two when initially I was planning to come home for April. It’s a lot of time away from people I love and taking time out of doing shows and turning down amazing opportunities at a time when my music has been taking off, but the positive is I have time to myself to write, focus on myself, and most importantly reclaim my health! I feel like I've turned a little corner this weekend in terms of energy so early signs are already really promising.
I’m scheduled to be in the clinic every weekday for IV’s, some minor surgery, and therapy to help address PTSD and get my body out of a sympathetic dominant state to get my body in the optimum state for healing, then later down the line I will start with more aggressive treatments, and it could be that I feel worse before I feel better, but because I know what to expect it will make the difficult days easier, knowing brighter ones will follow. It’s really difficult to have to do this again but hopefully I can give back by releasing music that is free to listen to on YouTube and Spotify. The only thing thats worrying me and limiting at the moment is the projected cost as I’m having to do everything including the cost of daily IVs and surgery privately, plus the cost of living in a different country while having to uber to and from the clinic every day whilst not being able to do shows or busk. Initially it was expected I would be in Canada a total of 3 months but this length had to be doubled based on my test results, and could be extended even further still. I’m also due to make repeated trips back to Canada once this initial 6 months is completed. To give people a perspective of cost, the cost of new medication for the month, IVs and various supplements along with the appointment alone totalled £3,400, IVs will cost hundreds a day, which I’m scheduled to do nearly every week day during my stay here and retesting to monitor progress will be thousands. There are also unexpected surgeries I didn’t factor in that I need to pay for. This is sadly in my opinion a fundamentally flawed issue with privatised health care for the chronically sick, but that is a whole different topic that I want to tackle head on when I have the strength and energy to do so.
Even with streaming income and the money left over from the last fundraiser It’s something that is looking like it will be difficult for me to afford. I figured out that if even 10% of my following donated even a small amount each then I’d have more than enough to carry me through this whole thing without having to worry about how much income is coming in each month which would be a huge stress off my shoulders during my time trying to get my health back.
I promise in return I’ll be releasing and creating music, creating new videos whenever Im able, and when I’m back and feeling strong, putting on shows and free street performances that will hopefully give back to all of you who have supported me on this journey so far. I’ll be keeping people updated throughout this journey, and hopefully if I reclaim my health, be able to pave a path for others to do the same which would make all these years of suffering worth it. Even if you decide not to donate, thank you so much for following my journey and supporting me with everything I do with music. It means a lot and gives me so much strength to continue this journey and stay excited about the future. The response to the last two songs has brought me more joy than I can even express, so thank you for that. Love you all sincerely. Ren
For those of you who have followed my story for a while you will know i've had ongoing battles with a chronic health problem since I was 19 years old. I can't even really scratch the surface on what it was like to loose most my early 20s to debilitating mysterious health problems that left me trapped in my bed with debilitating pain and neurological issues. I felt like I missed out on so much of what where meant to be the years of my life where I was growing up and discovering what it meant to be an adult. While friends were starting families, starting careers, socialising, I spent most of it inside the four walls of my bedroom, too tired and weak on most days to leave my bed. In crippling amounts of pain. This wasn't days or weeks, it was years. By my mid twenties I resigned to the fact I wouldn't live to see the age of 30.
I spent years trying to get answers, bouncing from doctor to doctor, only for them to scratch their heads and leave me with the diagnosis of M.E. During this time I tried countless medical treatments, and when they failed, resorted to alternative health practitioners, spiritual healing practices, thousands of supplements, but just kept getting sicker and sicker. With each treatment that failed, my hope for a normal life would die a little more.
In 2015 after suffering a huge crash, weighing only 8 stone and going through months of stress induced psychosis, I ended up raising enough money to see a specialist in Brussels, who ran extensive testing and finally diagnosed me with Lyme disease. The problem was it had been misdiagnosed for so long that it had caused irreversible damage to my immune system, and even after treating the Lyme I was left mostly disabled, with no way out. The only thing that really kept me going at this time was my love for music
If you are interested, back in those days the daily mail did an article on me which you can read about here
In my last ditch effort to feel like my existence mattered I started video blogging from my bed. I felt like if I was going to die, at least shining a light on a terribly misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition would have counted for something.
What I didn't know at the time was that giving back in that way would save my life. Purely by chance a stem cell doctor found my videos online and offered me a free stem cell transplant, if I could make my way to LA. He told me this would help rebuild my immune system and make me strong enough to live a relatively normal life. After reading the email in shock, I booked a flight to Los Angeles that same week. I come from a poor family so the cost of this kind of treatment (in the hundreds of thousands) was never in the realms of something I thought would be possible.
A family going through the same treatment put me up in their house, and I went through a gruelling 6 weeks of various intravenous medical treatment to build my body up to be strong enough to go through with the operation. At this point i was already so weak and underweight from spending years trapped in bed. Finally, sure enough, I was strong enough, and the procedure went through without a glitch. I returned home weak, but hopeful. Sure enough, bit by bit, my body started responding to treatment and after very rocky year, I started feeling strong enough to leave my house, start going to the gym, socialise, and eventually return to a career in music. It honestly was more than I could have ever asked for.
I honestly can't explain what its like to be given a second chance at life when you resign to dying in your twenties. With my new found energy I started pouring myself entirely into music, and through the grace of whatever higher power may be out there too, did damn good at it as well. Videos of me performing with my friend Sam started going viral all over the internet, in my first year as an active member of society I'd signed songs to major record labels, started a band, and sold out every single concert I ever put on.
The issue was I still wasn't well. I'd still find myself easily exhausted, at night i'd still feel the familiar aches and pains in my bones, and still had a lot of neurological issues that left me intermittently confused and depressed. The stem cell transplant also did come with some unfortunate side effects. Because my immune system was so over-reactive at this time I developed allergies to about 95% of the foods that I can eat, a condition called Mast Cell Activation Disorder. For the past 6 years or so of my life my diet has consisted of just a few vegetables and meat, which I have to prepare myself, without being able to eat out at restaurants. Despite this I could be an active member of society. I could live.
For years i've tolerated living in a sick body, because despite my pain I was still able to push through and make music which was more than I could have dreamed. However, I know, deep down, if I try I can uncover a whole new layer of healing. I know this because i've seen others do it. I know it because I went from barley able to stand up to take a shower to being able to perform to rooms full of thousands of people. I know if I try hard enough I can get to an ever stronger and better place.
For the past few years I didn't want to try because after nearly a decade of being sick I couldn't face the heartbreak of trying various medical treatments without it working, or in some instances in my past, making me worse... But life is too short, and I, and everybody going through anything remotely similar , deserves to be here without suffering.
At the end of last year I ended up doing a huge amount of research on doctors and found a leading expert in the specific manifestations of my complex picture of health. Doctor Bruce Hoffman over in Calgary, Canada. I began testing remotely here in the UK and poured thousands of pounds into getting a clearer picture of whats going on. You can read reviews of this doctor here
I am currently in Calgary treating under this doctor, who so far has managed to uncover things no other doctor was able to, and for that I am eternally grateful
As I said right at the beginning I find it really difficult to ask for help, but if ever my music has brought some kind of value into your life, whether it was just watching videos of me busking with friends, enjoying the music I put on Spotify, or relating to songs where Im singing about my struggles with my mental and physical health - and you felt that music has added value to your life, it would mean so much to me if you could even help out a little, because with a combined effort I can make this a reality
Even if you don't help, your support of my music means the world to me, and if you've read this far, thank you because even reading helps educate and shine light on a criminally misunderstood area of suffering.
I love you all, and I hope for a healthier and happier 2022 for all of us.