“I Couldn’t Believe It”: Oprah Opens Up About Recent Health Scare And Gratitude Gained From It

October 11, 2018  |  

Oprah Winfrey

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 25: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage at Q85: A Musical Celebration for Quincy Jones at the Microsoft Theatre on September 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

We’ve all been there: Working, exercising, simply lounging around, and we notice something is off. We feel a bump, a bruise, swelling or just overall, something out of place. So what is one to do? Google, that’s what. Google as though your life depends on it (because, for a moment, you think it does). Even Oprah Winfrey knows that.

The 64-year-old media mogul shared a story in the November issue of O about a recent health scare she had, the absolute fit it caused her to have, and how her diagnosis helped her to be more grateful for all that the body does.

It all started with a swollen neck.

“It was an ordinary Friday morning. Standing at the stove, stirring scrambled eggs in a skillet, I turned to get a pinch of salt and noticed a bit of soreness in my neck. The area under the left side of my chin felt tender. In the mirror, I could see it was swollen,” she wrote. “By the time I finished making breakfast, the swelling had increased. It looked like a goiter that had come out of nowhere.”

So Winfrey hit the Internet for answers, Googling the causes of a swollen lymph gland, and all of the results were unsettling. She went ahead and called an internist, who made a last-minute appointment with her. The doctor came to the conclusion that it wasn’t as bad as Winfrey thought.

“When I finally opened my mouth to say ‘ahhh,’ I was prepared for the doctor to say, ‘I’m so sorry, Ms. Winfrey, you have.’ Insert terrible disease,” she said. “What she actually said was, ‘I think your salivary glands are blocked. Go home, drink plenty of water, and try sucking on some lemons to stimulate your salivary ducts.”

But Winfrey was sure something was truly awry.

“I couldn’t believe it. I’d worked myself up to a blood pressure reading of 150/80 thinking about how I was going to rearrange my life to deal with whatever this was. Drinking water and sucking on lemons couldn’t be the answer,” she said. “So I called another doctor. Sent photos of my bloated neck and said ‘ahhh’ over FaceTime. He confirmed: salivary gland blockage, inflammation. Drink lots of water. Suck on a lemon or a sour lemon candy. So that’s what I did. I downed a half gallon of lemon-flavored water and sucked and puckered lemon slices through the night. By the next day, the swelling had gone down measurably. In two days, it had all but disappeared.”

With the situation being nowhere near as bad as she assumed, Winfrey found herself putting things into perspective. It could have been worse, but it wasn’t, and that’s something to be grateful for. She realized that we only tend to care about our bodies when they are in bad shape, but we rarely just appreciate them for the simple good they do.

“Our bodies are amazing. And too often we are not grateful for their perfect functioning, balancing bacteria and enzymes, managing blood flow, thrumming the sinus rhythm beat, beat, beat of our hearts day in, day out. As they say, you don’t appreciate your health until you no longer have it,” she said.

“Before this scare, I’d taken my salivary glands for granted. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’d never thought of them at all. But now I did start thinking—about all the wonders, head to toe. Our sight, our hearing, our sense of smell. The ability to feel our feet. Move our arms. Urinate. Swallow. Walk. Think. Smile. Wherever you are in your life’s journey—whatever the status of your career, your relationships, your finances, whether you’re successful or struggling, happy or not—I know for sure that you need look no further than your own body to offer a prayer of thanksgiving.”

Ain’t that the truth?

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