Natalie Gumede has opened up about last week's Strictly Come Dancing 2013 drama.
The Corrie star fainted twice during rehearsals, leaving her to step out from the live show.
“Last week was an accumulation of a few weeks of tiredness, after going through having an epidural, a steroid injection and taking pain killers. I had been feeling tired all week and on Friday my legs were giving up on me," she recalls. “When I arrived on Saturday morning I didn’t feel too bad, I felt a bit stiff and a little tired but no more than anyone else.
"I fainted during band rehearsals and when I tried to dance again at the dress run, to see if I had the strength to get through the dance, I fainted again – it had become clear that I was exhausted. I always want to give it my all but this time I had clearly pushed myself too far! The fainting was nothing sinister; I just needed a good sleep and some rest.
“I’ve never fainted before so it was a new, scary experience; it was a hugely unfortunate and disappointing climax to the most dramatic few weeks I think I’ve ever gone through. But after seeing a couple of doctors the verdict was exhaustion and the advice was very common-sensed based; rest and eat well."
Natalie continued: “I was devastated not to perform as the jive was a fabulous number, but health matters above everything else - it was a wakeup call. I will take things a little easier.
“Artem was a tower of strength throughout the day - he was very caring and supportive. It was very scary for him too - he’s looking after me so experiencing that first hand must have been horrible - especially to see me go down like that. I’m very grateful to him, he was understanding and was really worried about me. It was frustrating not to perform the jive as he is a genius choreographer but there will be other dances. I’m happy I’m back and healthy. "
Bosses gave Natalie a bye through the results to this week's show, something she's "so grateful" for.
The actress explained: “I never took it for granted that I would be allowed through to Blackpool. I had no expectations, but I was told that the rules of the show state you get one bye and I was so grateful that that was exercised.
“I’m not concerned that I will faint again. I think last Saturday was a freak accident that was a result of several weeks of tiredness. I’m feeling really refreshed and I won’t allow that to happen again.
“All the support we have been receiving is mind blowing. Despite all the drama with my back and fainting I’m having the time of my life and my responsibility is to get out there and give it my all because the fans are so incredibly supportive. I’m from Lancashire and we used to go to Blackpool as kids, it’s close to home and it’s going to be really emotional to perform there. It’s a stunning venue, it’s the home of ballroom and I am honoured to be dancing there.”
Her pro partner Artem added: “Having a bye is fair. Knowing the dance was good, she should be in Blackpool.
"I’m not being biased because she’s my partner, as a viewer I think people would agree that dancing wise she should be in Blackpool.”
This week Strictly Come Dancing is on Saturday 16th November at 6.30pm and will be live from Blackpool, with the results show on Sunday 17th November at 7.15pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.
Browse pictures of the Strictly stars in training below...