The 56-year-old actress took to Instagram on Tuesday to share an update on her health, detailing the setbacks she's endured since undergoing her first neck fusion in 2001. In 2010, she had it repaired a second time when she broke her back.
"So here’s my story. In 2016 I had my third spinal fusion surgery. It was in my neck at C6-7. I found out late last year that the fusion had failed, that the hardware was boring a hole in my C7 vertebra and I would need another surgery," her post begins.
Gilbert goes on to say that after a consultation this past April, she learned from a doctor that surgery was "necessary for an artificial disc instead of a fusion."
However, she said she ran into a "catch." She was told she had six months to get the surgery, but then the coronavirus pandemic created another obstacle.
"So I waited as long as possible. I've now reached the point where the pain is nearly constant and the fingers on my right hand are beginning to tingle," she explained.
Gilbert said she has a surgery scheduled on Thursday, which required her to travel from New York to Southern California.
She updated her fans along the journey. The “Little House on the Prairie” star wrote from the John F. Kennedy International Airport tarmac that she was equipped with a "mask, glasses, gloves, shield" and was "Clorox wiping every surface."
In a separate post, she shared that her plane had to divert to Tulsa, Okla., due to a "faulty fuel gauge."
"A little hullaballoo and a fuel stick later...I kid you not, measured with a stick-like thing, we are back on our way to SoCal," she wrote on Instagram, praising American Airlines for its service.
Gilbert said she won't know until after she awakes from surgery whether or not she'll receive a disc or will undergo another spinal fusion. Despite the unknown, she's keeping positive.
"But that is a worry for another day. My only job now is to stay free of this horrible virus so I can have my surgery. I’ll share as much of this journey as I can in case any of you out there are facing anything similar," she said.
"I’m channeling my inner Halfpint for this one. The one who believes anything is possible. The one with courage and moxie to spare!! Everyone stay safe, stay healthy, stay strong. And if you have an extra prayer or two, please send them my way," she concluded.
Back in 2018, the 1970s and '80s television star opened up about her health, and even discussed aging and whether or not she'd undergo the knife later in life. She told First For Women she has long been plagued with the idea of growing older in the spotlight but was looking forward to aging naturally.
"I had my breast implants removed and I’m no longer doing fillers or Botox because I’m a 53-year-old woman and I’m trying to embrace this process of aging," she told the outlet at the time.
She added: “I’m grateful to my body for holding up through some major health issues and serious injuries. Right now I’m physically pain-free and relatively healthy and strong."