George Michael: I am extremely lucky to be here

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Fighting back tears and looking pale and painfully drawn, singer George Michael appeared outside his London home to reveal he is “extremely lucky to be here” after contracting a severe bout of pneumonia last month.

The former Wham! star said that it had been “touch and go” while he was in the intensive care unit of a Vienna hospital battling an extremely dangerous form of the disease, but that his representatives had “played it down” at the time to avoid alarming his fans.

“They spent three weeks keeping me alive, basically,” said 48-year-old Michael.

“I don’t want to take you through all of it, because some of it I want to protect my family from and I’m sure I’ll get it all written down, but it was by far the worst month of my life.”

Michael was speaking for the first time after returning to the UK, having contracted the illness while on his European tour.

The tour began in Prague in August and saw him play 45 shows in 35 cities before it was cancelled due to his illness.

He was clearly short of breath yesterday and at times struggled to speak during his 10-minute appearance. “I’m very weak, but I feel amazing,” the pop star said.The singer behind hits such as Careless Whisper, Faith and Father Figure said the experience would make him more appreciative of his life.

“I have an amazing, amazing life, and if I wasn’t spiritual enough before the last four or five weeks then I certainly am now,” he said.

At times overcome with emotion, Michael expressed gratitude for being alive and thanked the medical staff in Vienna for taking exceptionally good care of him.

“I really, really, really, really, from the bottom of my heart, thank everybody who sent messages and everybody in that IC (intensive care) unit that made sure I’m still here today,” the singer said.

Michael did not provide many medical details about his illness, but it is understood he had streptococcus pneumonia, a bacterial form of the disease that can lead to fatal complications.

Little information was released during his hospital stay, although Michael’s doctors did say publicly he is not suffering from any underlying medical problems.

Michael spoke about having “woken up” 10 days ago, and also revealed that he had undergone a tracheotomy while in the hospital to help him breathe more easily.

“I spent the last 10 days since I woke up literally thanking people for saving my life, which is something I have never had to do before and never want to do again,” he said.

The singer had been rushed to AKH Hospital in Vienna late last month after cancelling a performance in the Austrian capital.

He was released from the hospital on Thursday and was deemed fit enough to fly home.

Yesterday he vowed to resume his career and perform for everyone who had a ticket for his cancelled shows.

The star also vowed to put on a performance for the Austrian medical team who kept him alive.

“I am incredibly, incredibly fortunate to be here and incredibly fortunate to have picked up this bug where I did, because apparently the hospital in Austria that they rushed me to was absolutely the best place in the world I could have been to deal with pneumonia,” Michael said.

“So I have to believe that somebody thinks I’ve still got some work to do here,”

He was due to play the UK dates of his Symphonica tour right up until the week before Christmas.

Michael added: “I promise them, absolutely without question, the plan is to play to every single person who had a ticket.

“Also actually I would like to play one other show for the doctors in Austria that saved my life.”