Rita Wilson Recalls Her 'Extremely Painful' Battle With Coronavirus (Exclusive)

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Rita Wilson is opening up about her painful experience with the coronavirus earlier this year.

While speaking exclusively with ET's Nischelle Turner via Zoom on Thursday, the 63-year-old actress recalled what it was like to be one of the first celebrities who was diagnosed with COVID-19. Wilson and her husband, Tom Hanks, tested positive in March, before much was known about the virus.

"We were in Australia and didn't have access to a lot of American news, so we weren't aware of the impact that it had in terms of, gee, maybe this thing is serious," Wilson recalled. "This was before we knew we had to wear masks or anything like that. Nobody was even talking about that, so it wasn't really until 10 days into it we thought, 'Oh, OK.' I think it was that combination of NBA [shutdown] and also us getting it, and us getting it together and not having it be the easiest illness. Like some people had worse symptoms, some people had lesser symptoms, but for us, it wasn't a walk in the park."

"First you thought, 'Oh, I've got a fever,' but the chills then added onto that, those were really tough, and [my] body aching enormously, way more than the flu," she added. "Then when we were hospitalized, our temperature was being monitored, our organs were being monitored, our blood was being monitored. We were a little bit concerned that we didn't realize it was going to be as serious as it was."

"The entire time I had a headache that was so extremely painful. I also had vertigo and lost my sense of taste and smell," she continued. "At that point, in March, [the latter] wasn't really a symptom that people were aware of or that doctors were aware of. It wasn't until about a week later, I had said to my doctor, 'I can't taste anything and I can't smell anything, is this normal?' A week later he said, 'We're starting to hear reports of that.' So it was kind of like a compounded experience where it started out one way and things kept building and being put on top of it."

Six months later, Wilson's health is back to normal and she has teamed up with the American Nurses Association's "Race to 200 Million" campaign to encourage people across the country to get their vaccines during flu season. You can learn more about the flu and where to get a flu shot at theraceto200m.com.

"Thankfully I'm doing really well and really healthy. I remember when I was growing up and my parents always used to say, 'If you have your health, you have everything," she shared. "When you're young and you hear that, you're like, 'Yeah, yeah, whatever.' But now that you have your health and you've gone through a couple of things, you're like, 'Yes. that actually does mean something.' You can pretty much handle anything if you have your health."

"When I was in the hospital, the nurses were amazing. The nurses are the ones that are on the frontlines and they are the ones that you go to when you get sick. They are there making it a point to be there so that we can be healthy, and one of those ways we can do that is by getting a flu shot," Wilson continued. "Flu season is upon us and COVID's not going anywhere ... so for us it's really important to make sure that the nurses aren't overwhelmed to take care of the people that may have COVID and that need more care. So what we're kind of suggesting, and what the CDC recommends, is getting your flu shot in September or at least by the end of October. That's ideal. It offers about six month's protection."

Wilson has also been busy with the release of her new song, "What I Would Say," which was written about "dealing with a loved one who is afflicted by addiction."

"There are so many families that I know, and I believe that there isn't a family that has not been touched with addiction or alcoholism," she explained. "I think that people who have been on the other side of that understand how painful that is, not only for the addict, but also for the family members and the friends and people who love them."

"I wanted to write a song that sort of exercised those feelings and thoughts, the negative thoughts that you get when you worry so profoundly about someone that you love," she added. "So that's really what the song is about. It happens to be National Recovery Month and I know that a lot of people during quarantine have struggled with their sobriety, can't go to their meetings, can't go to their support groups in the way that they typically would be able to. And so I wanted to let people know also that there's a way to get help."

If you or a loved one is struggling, the National Drug Helpline is open to any individual dealing with addiction issues. Resources are available for those struggling with any addictive substance, including alcohol, and professionals are available to help 24/7/365 at 1-844-289-0879.


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