Montel Williams opened up about the life-threatening medical emergency he suffered earlier this year.
The legendary talk show host wrapped his long-running series a decade ago, after it ran from 1991 until 2008. But the active 62-year-old hasn’t slowed down since, despite the fact that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. However, his tendency to push himself too hard landed him in the hospital several months ago.
At the time, Montel and his team didn’t reveal the details of his hospitalization. His spokesperson released a statement in late May via Twitter explaining that Montel, an “exercise enthusiast,” had overdone it during a workout and was admitted to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution.” Montel’s rep assured fans that Montel would “tell his story himself” soon.
Recently, Montel revealed what really happened to him back in May and admitted that despite downplaying the seriousness at the time, he’d actually been fighting for his life.
Montel is a former TV personality best known for his role as the host of the long-running Montel Williams Show.
Montel is also an active multiple sclerosis advocate since being diagnosed with the condition in 1999.
He even founded the nonprofit Montel Williams MS Foundation following his diagnosis, although it no longer operates.
Prior to his showbiz career, Montel also notably served in both the US Marine Corps and the US Navy.
Suffice it to say, Montel has always been active and kept fit, regardless of his MS diagnosis.
People reported back in May that Montel was rushed to the hospital via ambulance after suffering a “medical emergency” during a workout while in New York City.
At the time, Montel’s rep didn’t reveal what had happened to him.
In an early October interview with People, Montel opened up for the first time what really happened.
Despite the rep’s statement downplaying the incident, Montel had actually nearly died after suffering a cerebellar hemorrhagic stroke.
He explained that he’d actually spent 21 days in the ICU following the rare type of stroke, which can kill or severely neurologically damage 50% of patients, according to People.
“I’m very lucky,” Montel admitted. “When it happened, I didn’t realize the veracity of what this was. When you start thinking about… those statistics? That’s harsh reality… I’m so blessed to be alive and I’m not taking it for granted.”
The former host had been working out alone in the gym of his New York hotel early in the morning on May 30. He was in the midst of one of his typical intense workouts when he heard a loud popping noise.
At first, he thought the sound had come from behind him. But when he realized no one was there, it hit him.
“I knew there was nobody there and so I looked to my left,” he recalled. “And as my eyes came back around, the whole room started to kaleidoscope and I got hit with the wave of tired. I threw the weight down and said to myself, ‘You just had a stroke.'”
Luckily, Montel had recently seen an episode of The Dr. Oz Show that detailed the symptoms of a stroke and what to do in the event of one: “I said, ‘I’m not dying in this gym alone.’ I wanted to lay down to rest but I kept saying, ‘You can’t lay down’ because I remembered that’s what people die from.”
He managed to make it into the elevator and up to his room on the 14th floor, where he alerted his wife to what had happened and instructed her to call for an ambulance.
Rescue workers and doctors saved Montel’s life, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. He went on to spend several weeks in the hospital.
“I could barely talk. I couldn’t sit up. I couldn’t stand,” he revealed. “I was almost paralyzed, it was terrifying. But I remember telling myself, ‘You’re not dying. You’re not quitting. You’re going to fight this. You’re going to get this back.'”
Thankfully, Montel has recovered considerably in the four months since the incident with the help of daily physical therapy sessions, which have helped him regained his mobility. He also learned an important lesson from his near-death experience, and he’s sharing it with others.
“I was pushing way harder than I should be pushing,” he told People, “chasing this weird body ideal that I had when I was a kid.… This gave me a wake up call in a lot of ways. I’m use to be one of those overly intense people period. I was flying three flights a week, cross-country, back here, over there, up there, down there, over there. I was always on the phone, managing five businesses — it’s time to just slow it down a little bit, you know?
“Just learn from me. My biggest mantra for years was, ‘Mountain, get out of my way.’ Well, how about just stand on the top of the mountain and take a look around?”