Venus Williams sat down with Dr. Oz to examine the 33-year-old’s battle with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva. Often times those with Sjogren’s syndrome experience a dry mouth and/or eyes, and it could also affect other body parts including the lungs and kidneys. The tennis champion explained to Dr. Oz the disease took quite a while to diagnosis, which caused Venus Williams to become sicker.
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's syndrome. The reason it stayed such a mystery is because the symptoms are so ambiguous that no one can really diagnose it. At one point, I just ended up getting sicker. And that's what happens to a lot of people. The average diagnosis time is about seven years. And that's what happened with me. It took seven years.
Williams went on to state that she had mistaken Sjogren’s syndrome for laziness because no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t actively prepare for tennis matches.
It started in 2004, I would always say, ‘I couldn't get in shape.’ And I would always say, ‘Okay, this time, I'm really going to get in shape.’ And no matter what I did, I never could, I never had any wind. So I was out there, just faking it, and then, every now and then, after a big loss, I would say, ‘Gosh, something's wrong.' And I'd go get another workup. Then I'd just wait another six months. So that was my life. I would just keep going, getting workups, and there were no answers. As an athlete, you don't make excuses. Either you do it or you don't. So in my head, I just thought, ‘Oh, maybe I'm just kind of lazy, you know.' That's what I would think.
Venus Williams created “Fitness Journey”, a web initiative designed to help women become healthier. Watch Venus today on “The Dr. Oz Show,” check local listings for air times.
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