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On February 4, celebrated singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, 80, performed “Both Sides Now” at the 2024 Grammy Awards ceremony for the first time in her more than 50-year career. She was accompanied onstage by Brandi Carlile, who played guitar and provided backup vocals.
In addition to performing at the award show, Joni also won a Grammy in the Best Folk Album Category for her 2023 album, Joni Mitchell at Newport [Live]. The ten-time Grammy Award winner’s album is a recording of her set from the 2022 Newport Folk Festival —a surprise performance and her first time taking the stage after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015, per NPR.
Joni received a standing ovation when she walked out on stage to receive her award. “Well, thank you very much. Thank you. I don’t know what to say about this,” she said in her acceptance speech. “We had so much fun at that concert, and I think you can feel it on the record, you know. It’s a very joyous record because of the people that I played with and the spirit of the occasion was very high, and it went on the record. Even the audience sounds like music. Thank you.”
Joni’s historic Grammys performance and win comes amid the “Case of You” singer’s battle with a mysterious illness called Morgellons disease. Joni first revealed that she was dealing with the rare health condition in a 2017 biography, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. “I have this weird, incurable disease that seems like it’s from outer space,” she said in the book.
So, what exactly is Morgellons disease? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Morgellons disease?
There’s not much information available about the condition, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it an “unexplained dermatopathy” or skin disease, per the Mayo Clinic.
The disease involves the “belief that parasites or fibers are emerging from the skin,” making it feel like something is crawling, biting, or pinching the skin, and creating an intense itching feeling, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Doctors don’t agree on the origin of the disease. Some medical experts think Morgellons is a physical illness, while others believe it to be a type of psychosis that they call “delusional parasitosis,” (a.k.a. the person thinks parasites have infected their skin), per WebMD.
What are the symptoms of Morgellons disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic, people suffering from Morgellons may experience the following symptoms:
Skin rashes or sores that create an intense itching feeling
Crawling sensations on or under the skin
Some will have the belief that fibers, threads, or black stringy materials are present on or under the skin
Inability to concentrate
Muscle and joint pain
In a 2012 study, CDC researchers were unable to find “a common underlying medical condition or infectious agent” in people experiencing Morgellons symptoms, per Medical News Today.
And while some skin samples from participants in a 2015 Morgellons study uncovered some “fiber-like materials,” upon further evaluation, researchers concluded that the fibers were actually from naturally occurring hair follicles, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
What causes Morgellons?
Unfortunately, the cause isn’t clear, but the condition could potentially be related to Lyme disease. In the same 2015 study mentioned above, researchers found Lyme disease present in 24 out of the 25 Morgellons patients being studied.
“The scientific community is divided between those who believe it is a purely psychological disorder and those who believe it may be due to a pathogen,” Medical News Today reports.
What is the treatment for Morgellons disease?
Once diagnosed with Morgellons, treatment plans vary depending on what the doctor pinpoints as the cause. Blood tests and skin samples are usually taken, and a treatment plan is created once results come back.
Some doctors may suggest using antibiotics if they suspect a bacterial infection or a tick-borne illness. Treatment may also be provided if there are any opened or long-lasting skin lesions, according to Medical News Today.
Often, those in the medical field who label the condition as delusion or a mental illness will treat it with antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, and cognitive behavioral therapy, per Mayo Clinic.
Is it curable?
Since Morgellons disease is poorly understood, there is no cure for it.
How common is Morgellons?
Over 14,000 people have been affected by the disease, according to Medical News Today.
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