AceShowbiz - Jeannie Mai is still traumatized by the life-threatening condition that forced her to withdraw from "Dancing with the Stars". On the mend after undergoing an emergency throat surgery, the co-host of "The Real" looked back at the scary moment when her strep throat diagnosis turned into a parapharyngeal abscess.
The 41-year-old stylist offered more insights into her recent medical condition during an interview with PEOPLE. "My sore throat turned out to be strep throat that quickly turned into a parapharyngeal abscess," she spilled on her epiglottitis diagnosis. "I was breathing like Darth Vader. It was a traumatic experience."
Jeannie initially revealed that two doctors she visited had "misdiagnosed [her] and kept [her] on steroids, which allowed [her] to keep going with my taxing schedule." It was not until her last day of "DWTS" rehearsal with pro partner Brandon Armstrong that she found it difficult for her to breathe. Still, she initially thought it was due to her wearing a face mask.
When her condition worsened to the point that she could not swallow, the fiancee of Jeezy a.k.a. Young Jeezy turned to Dr. Shawn Nasseri who found "huge abscess that was growing" in her throat. She then recalled what he told her, "Pack your bags up, call 'Dancing with the Stars', let them know you're not competing tomorrow. You're going into the ER. I have to operate on you."
The TV personality claimed she felt "devastated, mortified, upset" after being told that she couldn't compete in the dancing competition show. "I was in tears and I actually fought the doctor to say, 'Can I just at least compete in this week's competition?' Because I worked so hard on my Charleston, which was our next dance together with Brandon," she shared.
"I thought maybe I can do the surgery on a Tuesday, take a week to heal, watch the routines virtually and figure it out. But he said, 'Absolutely not,' " she continued. "Because any form of respiratory work - like walking fast, getting excited, laughing - causes the blood pressure to swell in your throat, because that's one of your main pipelines for breathing, and that alone could even erupt or swell them closed more."
Despite the steps taken, Jeannie still had difficulty breathing post-operation. "I couldn't eat anything for two weeks, so I was tube feeding there in the hospital for a week, and I had a nurse come in every two hours just to make sure I was breathing," she recounted. "After I left the hospital, for a week being at home, I still had to be on an IV and I could not move, because anything you do that raises your blood pressure causes your throat to tighten up."
Luckily, Jeannie has since recovered well. She assured that she is "96 percent better" and is able to eat solid food again. "I can speak. I can't yell, but I can speak," she said. "I'm so thankful, so I'm definitely coming out into the clear now."