Willie Nelson turned 90 in April 2023 and the country superstar is still enjoying life on stage. However, that doesn’t mean the singer hasn’t had a few health struggles along the way. So, how is Willie’s health in 2023?
Is Willie Nelson Sick?
Willie was diagnosed with emphysema, which is a type of COPD, in 2019. Emphysema is a chronic condition that affects the air sacs in a person’s lungs by damaging the walls between the sacs and can make breathing difficult, according to Medline. Before he revealed the official diagnosis from doctors, Willie canceled several concerts during his tour due to “breathing problems.”
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After his diagnosis with the lung condition, Willie said that he changed his lifestyle to help alleviate the issues that come along with the disease.
“I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past, so breathing is a little more difficult these days, and I have to be careful,” Willie said in an interview with KSAT News.
The “Always on My Mind” singer also contracted COVID-19 in 2020 which also wreaked havoc on his health. Just a few days after Willie’s 89th birthday, he woke up on his tour bus struggling to breathe and he tested positive.
“I had a nebulizer on the bus. I started everything I could at that point, including Paxlovid. He had the monoclonal antibodies. He had steroids,’ Willie’s wife Annie D’Angelo explained in a 2022 interview with The New York Times. The former makeup artist said that they drove through the night to make it back home to their ranch in Spicewood, TX, and she was able to get a mobile medical unit out to check on Willie.
“We turned the house into a hospital,” Annie continued. “There were a couple of times when I wasn’t sure he was going to make it.”
Just two weeks later, Willie was back on the road, although he admitted that COVID wasn’t “nothing to laugh at.”
What Other Health Scares has Willie Nelson Experienced?
The “On the Road Again” singer was the victim of a collapsed lung in 1981 after he overexerted himself on a jog and then ran into the ocean during a stay in Hawaii. The force of the waves and the extreme change in temperature led to his lung collapsing.
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He recalled the experience in his docuseries Willie Nelson & Family, which premiered on Paramount+ on December 21, 2023. Willie said that he remembered laying on the beach while trying to gain enough strength to make it back to his hotel to call a paramedic. When an ambulance arrived, they had to reinflate Willie’s lung by running a tube through his back and ribs and into his lung. The procedure had to be repeated twice the next day.