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October 18, 2008 / alunatunes

October 18- A real life horror story….

“There is a little bit of magic in everything and then some loss to even things out.” Lou Reed

In the summer of 2004, Joel Timmons, guitarist,singer and songwriter for Charleston SC’s Sol Driven Train took a break from touring with his band to travel the world. With a sibling and friend, Joel visited the Pacific Rim, splitting with the group intermittantly to explore and travel solo. In India, Joel was assigned volunteer work helping a family near Kashmir bring in their harvest. After a few days in the village, Joel found himself easily fatigued. He began to run a fever.

“I thought it was a cold,” he remembers, “Then I started to lose sensation in my feet and hands, and I knew something was terribly wrong.”

Joel had contracted Gilliane-Barre Syndrome, a disease which caused his immune system to attack the mylin sheath which protects nerve endings. By the time Joel was admitted to a New Dehli hospital, he was nearly completely paralyzed.

“The doctors explained I could become so weak, I wouldn’t be able to lift my diaphragm. They intubated me and gave me a tracheotomy. I was in the intensive care unit for three weeks and spent another four weeks in a private room. ” Joel admits being frightened about being so sick so far from home. 

Joel has made a full recovery and points out that, although his body was shutting down, his mind was still fully functional. “It was terrifying to be mental lucid, but lose control of my body.” When he arrived back in the states, Joel, an avid surfer and swimmer, was in a wheelchair. He had to learn to speak and eat and walk again.

“Music was a huge part of my recovery, ” he told a reporter recently. “While I was gone, the guys in the band rearranged the line up and continued to play. ” By spring of 2005, Joel had recovered enough to rejoin Sol Drive Train. His experience and indeed the experiences of the rest of the band, became the record LIGHTHOUSE, released this year.

“I wrote several songs just about the illness and my recovery. Several tunes are about facing mortality and recovering and coming back from the edge of death. Recording  helped me remember how grateful I am. It’s given me a new appreciation for being able to make music. To have total deprivation and then to get it all back is such a joy.”

The last song on LIGHTHOUSE is Sullivan’s Island, Joel’s remembrance of making it back to his beloved island home. The closing line of the song speaks volumes.

“Every breath you take is an act of faith. Every breath you take is a gift of grace.”

Welcome back Joel.


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