George Michael faced memory loss and muscle atrophy after pneumonia battle

Recovering: George Michael has spoken in depth about his pneumonia battle
Recovering: George Michael has spoken in depth about his pneumonia battle©Brian Rasic/Rex Features

George Michael has been speaking about how seriously ill he was during his pneumonia battle at the end of 2011, revealing that he came very close to death on several occasions.

The Faith singer, who rushed to an Austrian hospital for treatment, admitted it was “touch and go” for three weeks as medics battled to keep him alive.

And even after overcoming the worst of the illness, George had to learn how to walk again as his muscles wasted away during his recovery. He also revealed he has suffered from anxiety issues since the illness took hold.

Talking to Chris Evans on Radio 2, George compared his near-death experience to “dodging a bullet”.

The star had been feeling ill for some weeks and had cancelled a number of shows, including one at the Royal Albert Hall, but had shrugged it off to continue with his tour.

However it wasn’t long before the full force of the condition took hold, as he explained.

"I cancelled that show but didn't get myself checked out. I took it for granted that I'd just fought off flu.

"I went and played for another three weeks in Europe. And then one afternoon I was having lunch and suddenly felt really odd and said to everyone that I need to go and lay down for half an hour on my own.

"And that's the last thing I remember for five weeks. It was three weeks of them trying to save my life and two weeks awake.”

George continued: "I literally had to learn to walk again and weird stuff, because when they keep you sedated for that long your muscles literally atrophy at an incredible rate. And I just woke up like this feeble old man."

The singer revealed that his management and PR team had deliberately downplayed just how bad his condition was.

"If they'd known how bad things were, it would have been a 'death watch' kind of thing," he said.

"So it wasn't until I came out that we told people, that they had any clue. But for three weeks it was touch and go."
The star is now largely back to his old self, although he did admit that he has suffered anxiety because it takes “a while to feel that life is safe again” following an experience like the one he endured.

George’s new single White Light, which draws on his near-death experience, is available to download from August 12.


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