When a longtime Fox News host began experiencing various ailments, she brushed them aside as minor concerns and went about her business without thinking about it further. In time, those seemingly minor ailments turned into a “shocking health crisis” that could have left her paralyzed. Now, she is warning fans to “please take my advice” before it’s too late.
Heather Childers, co-host of “Fox & Friends First,” returned to work on Tuesday after a medical emergency in July. Childers said she was excited to be back at work, but she wanted to share some health advice with her viewers.
“If you get up very, very early you may have seen me weekday mornings on ‘Fox & Friends First’ since the show launched on Fox News Channel in 2012. I’ve been away from my job as 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. host on the show since July 13, but I’m very happy to be returning Tuesday – after a shocking medical emergency and surgery to avoid being paralyzed for the rest of my life,” Childers wrote on Fox News.
“I want to share my story with all of you reading this, along with my TV audience, because I want you to learn from a big mistake I made,” she added. “I ignored warnings signs my body was sending me saying something was wrong. I won’t do that again – and hope none of you will do that either.”
Over the past few years, Childers had experienced several health concerns, although she never thought that they could be related. A year before her health crisis, Childers experienced a numb feeling in her legs along with shooting pains and cramping. She “blamed it on low potassium, lack of sleep, or stress,” and her low iron and vitamin D deficiency diagnoses.
“I never wanted to take sick days from work because I was always worried it would impact my job, especially since a lot of what I was experiencing was happening while management, schedule and talent changes were happening at Fox News,” wrote Childers. “But I had no choice when my medical problem turned into a crisis in early July while I was hosting ‘Fox & Friends First.’ Shooting pains started ricocheting through the right side of my head.”
“The next day, thinking I was better, I went back to work and it happened again – only worse,” she stated. “Again, I went immediately home, hoping the terrible pain would go away. It didn’t – for four long days. I went in to the hospital for an MRI of my brain. Thankfully, I saw an outstanding neurologist – Dr. Ludmilla Bronfin. During my initial exam, she also tested my reflexes and discovered they were overactive – a condition called hyperreflexia, which can be caused by a variety of conditions. As a result, she ordered an MRI not only of my brain, but also of my neck.”
“Then Dr. Bronfin gave me frightening news and told me I had a medical condition I’d never even heard of. ‘There’s a 100 percent chance you won’t be walking when you are older,’ the doctor said. ‘You could hit a pothole the wrong way and be paralyzed right now,'” wrote Childers.
After consulting with four neurosurgeons, it was established that Childers had a health condition called cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy, meaning her spinal cord was being compressed against her neck, and hyperreflexia, which caused her involuntary nervous system to overreact to stimuli.
The compression in her neck came from a car accident when she was just 16-years-old. In the accident, she suffered neck and head trauma, but she never realized the neck trauma was continuing to get worse. Childers needed surgery as soon as possible, or she risked becoming paralyzed later in life.
“The surgery itself involved three areas of my spine in my neck,” wrote Childers. “The affected discs and bone spurs were removed from an incision in the front of my neck. Dr. McCormick then fused together the open spaces between the vertebrae by implanting a bone graft from a bone bank and then secured everything together with a titanium metal plate and screws.”
“Take it from me: ignoring a health problem won’t make it go away,” she warned. “Don’t make excuses when you are dealing with real physical symptoms, or wait for a medical emergency before you see a doctor.”
Please share Heather Childers’ story. We could all benefit from her warning. Self-care is so important, yet so many of us routinely put ourselves last. You never know — that could ultimately end up being a life-changing mistake, as Childers learned firsthand.