I just finished the autobiography of Gregg Allman, founding member of the iconic Allman Brothers Band. It’s not a bad read; short on the music and performance discussion and long on the chronic drug, drinking and sexual exploits of Allman and his bandmates.
If you look at Gregg Allman today, after reading the book, you’d wonder why he’s not dead. He’s 65 years old, probably could pass for 75. His decades of drug and alcohol addiction landed him in rehab 11 times. He was smoking, shooting and snorting everything possible, much of it at the same time. That, coupled with bouts of STDs and Hep C and, in his early 60s, a liver transplant followed by post-0p fluid complications, makes the book a bit painful to read.
I don’t know how long he’ll live. He is supposedly cleaned up now. But one thing fascinates me (besides the fact he’s still alive): Amid all that chemical abuse, he still appeared to have had a relatively healthy cardiovascular system and was not obese (though he was “puffy” at the depths of his drinking days). His surgeon told him when they connected the blood vessel to his new liver, the liver turned a healthy deep pink in seconds. Went as smoothly and quickly has he’d ever seen. No need for additional blood as was otherwise common.
I am going out on a limb, here, but here’s my theory:
Despite all the chemical abuse, maybe Gregg Allman’s immune health is still giving him a fighting chance at a longer life.
“How crazy is that?!?!?” you ask. I say yes, it is crazy. But here’s my reasoning:
Throughout a career of substance abuse, Allman was having a blast in life. He was playing music every day, a spiritual necessity in his world. And he was making a living at it, even getting rich (then broke, then rich again). And when he wasn’t playing music in front of adoring fans, he was having fun riding motorcycles, watching new bands in bars, writing and recording songs, generally living the life many dream about.
And, he did not appear to harbor the stressors that lead to immune-related health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure. He didn’t worry about money, whether rich or poor. He didn’t have to worry about a job as he could record and play practically anytime he wanted to. And he seems to have avoided stress-related eating, ingesting tons of sugar, adding abdominal girth, which beats down immune response. Heck, the drugs probably gave him great portion and calorie control! If stress is possibly the leading gateway to weakening immune function and therefore chronic illness, Allman may be an immune health case study, however chemically dependent he was.
Bottom line: if the rest of his health was in jeopardy, perhaps he still had a fighting immune system that gave him an extra chance at living longer. And, if his immune health was innately strong, how much better shape would he be in today had he not been a walking pharmacy?
Am I off my rocker or what?