Popular comedienne Sarah Silverman got the health scare of her life last week when she was diagnosed with epiglottitis, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The 45-year-old entertainer posted on Facebook Wednesday to discuss her condition, saying she is “insanely lucky to be alive,” and adding that she had no idea she had epiglottitis – she thought it was a routine check-up for a sore throat.
Epiglottitis occurs when a small piece of cartilage blocks a person’s windpipe, effectively blocking the flow of air and shutting down the respiratory system.
It is a rare but life-threatening condition, made even more dangerous by the fact that it can happen over a period of days without a patient knowing it, building up as time goes.
Common symptoms of epiglottitis include difficulty and pain when swallowing, a severe sore throat, difficulty breathing, drooling, high fever, irritability, a muffled voice and high-pitched or abnormal breathing patterns. In many cases, patients might merely dismiss it as a simple sore throat or allergic reaction.
Causes of the condition may include physical injury, such as being hit in the throat or drinking extremely hot beverages, swallowing dangerous objects or consistent drug use. Other possible causes are bacterial and viral infections in the nose and throat, such as meningitis, pneumonia, Streptococcus or ear infections.
Silverman said in her post that she had to spend five days confined at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center’s intensive care unit.
“They couldn’t put me fully to sleep for the recovery process because my blood pressure’s too low,” Silverman said in the Facebook post. “I was drugged just enough to not feel the pain and have no idea what was happening or where I was. They had to have my hands restrained to keep me from pulling out my breathing tube. My friend Stephanie said I kept writing ‘was I in an accident?’”
Silverman, best known for her Saturday Night Live appearances, thanked the doctors, nurses, technicians and orderlies at the hospital for regularly saving lives, saying she owed them all her own life. She also thanked her partner, Michael Sheen, and her friends who had stayed with her during her time in the hospital.
Aside from Saturday Night Live, for which Silverman was a writer as well as performer, she also hosted her own show, The Sarah Silverman Program, from 2007 to 2010 on Comedy Central. Her comedy, which focuses on gender issues, racism and religion, has earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards. She has also appeared in multiple films – the latest of which, I Smile Back in 2015, has earned her a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.