Mary Lou Retton Says She's a 'Medical Mystery' amid Health Condition: 'I Still Have a Hard Time Breathing'

"They still don't know what's wrong with me," says Retton, who was hospitalized with a rare form of pneumonia last fall

<p>Robin Marchant/Getty Images </p> Mary Lou Retton

Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton is sharing an update on health following her near-death experience last fall.

After a rare form of pneumonia sent the retired Olympic gymnast, 56, to the ICU in October 2023, she knows she still has a long way to go in terms of her recovery.

While speaking to Entertainment Tonight in an interview published May 22, Retton, who still wears oxygen daily amid the health issue with her lungs, said, "It's been hard, I have to say."

"Give me a hip to rehab, give me a shoulder. The lungs are a different beast," she told the outlet, saying she had a "bit of a relapse" with her health, but is now "back" on track.

<p>AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau</p> Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles

AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles

Related: Mary Lou Retton Has Suffered ‘Pretty Scary Setback’ and Remains in ICU, Says Daughter

"They still don't know what's wrong with me. They're calling it a rare form of pneumonia," Retton said of a possible diagnosis, telling host Deidre Behar that she still has "a hard time breathing, and getting breath to speak."

"Do you consider yourself somewhat of a medical mystery?" Behar asked, as Retton said, "Yes, and the doctors do too."

The former Olympian, who will have to wear oxygen tubes in her nose for another year or year and a half, explained, "My lungs are pretty scarred up and they're gonna stay that way forever."

<p>Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty</p> Mary Lou Retton and her daughter McKenna Kelley in 2019

Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

Mary Lou Retton and her daughter McKenna Kelley in 2019

Related: Mary Lou Retton Shares Health Update: 'Continuing to Slowly Recover and Staying Very Positive'

Retton also shared how she doesn't remember her four daughters, Shayla, 29, McKenna, 27, Skyla, 24, and Emma, 21, coming to the hospital to say their goodbyes.

"It was that close," Retton told the outlet while revealing her youngest daughter had been called to the hospital from university. "I can't imagine them seeing me on my death bed."

"They inspire me, and they do every day," Retton continued of her daughters. "They're extraordinary young women and my biggest accomplishment. Take my five medals. I'll take my daughters over that anytime."

"I'm not a really depressed person, but this experience really changed me [mentally], and I've been struggling with that," Retton shared elsewhere in the interview.

<p>Eric McCandless via Getty</p> Mary Lou Retton

Eric McCandless via Getty

Mary Lou Retton

Despite her health challenges, the sportswoman insisted she has "so much to look forward to" with her one daughter's wedding in the fall. She's also set to welcome her first grandchild in July.

"I don't want Mimi. I don't want Grammy or Grandma," she said, insisting she wants her grandkids to call her "Lou Lou."

"All my friends either call me Tiny or Lou," she told the outlet.

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After Retton's daughter McKenna set up a Spotfund fundraising page to help with the family's medical costs in October 2023, it's since raised almost $500,000 with over 8,000 donors. When McKenna set up the fundraiser, she mentioned her mom was not insured. She has since been insured through USA Gymnastics, per ET.

Retton — who won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, as well as two silver and two bronze medals — remained in the spotlight after her gymnastics career came to a close.

She made cameos in movies and TV shows including Glee, Baywatch, and Knot's Landing, as well as competing on season 27 of Dancing with the Stars.

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