Celine Dion Opens Up About Near-Death Experience with Valium While Battling Stiff-Person Syndrome

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In a candid interview with NBC News, iconic singer Celine Dion sheds light on the terrifying ordeal she faced battling Stiff-Person Syndrome (SPS), a rare neurological condition. The interview, which aired on Tuesday night, delves into Dion’s decade-long struggle with the debilitating illness, her near-fatal dependence on medication, and her unwavering determination to return to the stage.

Celine Dion Opens Up
Celine Dion Opens Up

A Decade of Mystery and Muscle Spasms

Diagnosed with SPS in 2022, Dion reveals that the condition’s impact began manifesting as early as 2008. This rare disorder causes muscle stiffness, excruciating spasms, and limited mobility. Only affecting roughly one in a million people worldwide, SPS presented an immense challenge for Dion and her medical team.

Pain Management Leading to Peril

Throughout a decade of inconclusive tests, Dion describes relying heavily on increasing doses of Valium, a medication prescribed to manage muscle spasms. This dependence ultimately led to a dangerous scenario. “I did not know, honestly, that it could kill me,” Dion confessed, detailing how the medication’s effectiveness wore off rapidly, forcing her to take higher and higher doses. At her peak, Dion revealed taking a staggering 90 milligrams of Valium daily.

The 2008 Taking Chances World Tour: A Glimpse of the Struggle

Dion also shared how the effects of SPS began to manifest subtly during her 2008 “Taking Chances World Tour.” Recalling a concert in Germany, Dion described approaching her team with crippling fear and uncertainty due to the severity of her muscle spasms. “I said to my assistants and my people, ‘I don’t know if I can do the show. I don’t know what’s happening,'” she relayed, highlighting the escalating anxiety that worsened the spasms. To compensate for her vocal changes, Dion and her team opted to adjust the song keys and relied on more nasal projection.

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A Pandemic Silver Lining: Time for Healing

Dion’s residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas spanned over 16 years and included a staggering 1,100 performances. However, she hasn’t graced the stage since March 2020. While the global COVID-19 pandemic forced a hiatus, it also presented an unexpected opportunity for Dion to focus on her health and address the dangerous medication dependence. “It was an opportunity for me to take a break,” she stated, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing health over bravery. Under medical supervision, Dion began weaning off all medications, particularly the “bad ones.”

The Search for Answers and a New Chapter

Despite stopping the medication, Dion’s journey to recovery remained complex. With symptoms persisting, she and her medical team continued to search for a definitive diagnosis. “It’s very complex. I wanted to — from head to toe — figure it out,” she said. This period also fueled Dion’s desire to find solutions and understand if her career faced an indefinite pause.

A Documentary Unveiling the Journey

Titled “I Am: Celine Dion,” a documentary directed by Irene Taylor, offers viewers a glimpse into Celine Dion’s experience with SPS. Premiering on Amazon Prime on June 25th, the film promises an intimate look into her private life through rare home videos. Taylor describes the documentary as containing a “shocking moment,” suggesting a potentially pivotal event in Dion’s battle with SPS.