Jeannie Mai is opening up about the health scare that forced her to drop out of Dancing With the Stars Season 29. As Monday night's all-new episode aired with one less dancing duo than initially planned, Mai, in a video recorded from her hospital room, got candid about the severity of her diagnosis, which could have resulted in her throat closing up if she had "waited one more day" to seek medical help.
Noting that she was "absolutely devastated that my journey on Dancing with the Stars has to end this way," Mai revealed that her condition was serious, and the diagnosis required emergency surgery. The TV host explained that she had "a throat abscess," which caused her tonsils and throat to get "so infected that it started permeating to the rest of the areas behind my neck and my ears." In the clip, one of her doctors revealed that things could have turned out much differently, explaining that if Mai "had waited one more day, your throat would have closed up."
According to the Mayo Clinic, epiglottitis, which Mai was diagnosed with, "is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis — a small cartilage 'lid' that covers your windpipe — swells, blocking the flow of air into your lungs." In an Instagram post, Mai explained that the condition had "started as a sore throat," but within the span of just days, had "become a dangerous infection that already closed at least 60% of my airway and resulted in a throat abscess." Thankfully for Mai, "everything went great," and she is now on the road to recovery, though she is mourning the end of her DWTS journey.
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In a statement to PEOPLE confirming her early departure from the competition, Mai said that she was "heartbroken" to be leaving early, though she is grateful for the seven weeks she got to spend dancing alongside partner Brandon Armstrong. Mai said the "last several weeks have been an amazing learning experience" that have forced her to push herself "to new limits physically and mentally, and I am so proud of how far we’ve come." Of Armstrong, she added, "I can't thank my partner Brandon enough for being so supportive and believing in me."
Armstrong also had plenty of love to share. In a video message that aired during Monday's episode, he said that he "couldn't have asked for a better partner this season. She made this journey so special."
New episodes of Dancing With the Stars air Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Stay tuned to PopCulture.com for the latest updates.