What Oprah Winfrey Learned From a Recent Health Scare

On an "ordinary" day, Winfrey feared she was suffering from a "terrible disease"

By Zach Johnson Oct 09, 2018 5:20 PMTags
E! Placeholder Image

Good news: Oprah Winfrey is still in good health.

It's something she's grateful for—especially after a recent "health scare," which she describes in the November issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. Writing in her "What I Know for Sure" column, Winfrey says she was making scrambled eggs for breakfast—on an "ordinary Friday morning"—when she "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. By the time I finished making breakfast, the swelling had increased. It looked like a goiter that had come out of nowhere. I immediately Googled 'swollen lymph gland causes.' None of the results was good."

Winfrey called an internist, who set an appointment for later that afternoon. "For the next four hours, I thought the worst," she writes. "Why would a neck suddenly swell? Maybe it wasn't sudden. Maybe whatever it was had been growing for days, or longer, and I only now noticed."

With her mind racing—"What had I eaten? Could it be the remnant of a cold?"—Winfrey feared the worst. "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].'" The reality was less severe than she anticipated. "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.'"

Oprah's Bountiful Gardens

Winfrey says she "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." She called another doctor, via FaceTime, for a second opinion and received the same diagnosis.

Relieved, she did as instructed. "By the next day, the swelling had gone down measurably. In two days, it had all but disappeared," she writes. Winfrey was grateful to not only have answers, but to be aware of how something like that can possibly "disrupt your whole system."

"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," she writes, noting she had never thought of her salivary glands before. "As they say, you don't appreciate your health until you no longer have it." After her recent health scare, Winfrey tries to stay conscious of "all the wonders" of the human body.

The November issue of O, The Oprah Magazine is on newsstands now.