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Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, who underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine in November, is on the mend.
The 73-year-old game show veteran — who has hosted Wheel of Fortune since 1981 — gave his first interview since the ordeal on Friday’s Good Morning America, talking about his health scare in detail.
“My blood pressure had fallen dramatically. They had to wait till it lifted a bit so they could do the surgery,” Sajak said. “My wife and our daughter was with me, and they were, you know, they didn’t know. I mean, you go in and they don’t know if I’m coming out.”
“You couldn’t do anything. I was in [a] fetal position, lying on the bed,” he recalled. “They try to give you various drugs for the pain. And none of it — none — was working. And then they gave me something, I couldn’t even tell you the name of it, but suddenly, I wasn’t thinking about the pain. I just had these beautiful pastels and lovely faces coming out of it.”
Sajak revealed that he felt like he was dying. “In the background, I could hear my wife and daughter talking. It sounded like they were a mile off, but they were right next to me,” he said. “They were talking to each other. And I remember thinking, not in a morbid way, ‘I think this must be death. This must be what death is like.'”
“Hearing their voices, I thought, ‘Boy, their lives are gonna change now.’ And I felt badly for them. I didn’t feel badly about dying. I felt badly that they were gonna have to deal with the aftermath,” he continued. “As it turned out, I was just high.”
The game show host added that the surgery was “completely successful” and he didn’t have to make any major life changes.
Sajak then reflected on what it was like to be out of work for a month. He noted that he hadn’t missed a taping in 40 years and joked, “It felt really bizarre to know that stuff was goin’ on without me. And going on well without me.”
While Sajak was in hospital, his longtime co-host Vanna White took on hosting duties for Wheel of Fortune. Sajak has since resumed his hosting role.
He called White a “trooper” for stepping in and taking over his hosting duties during his absence. “It would’ve been well within her rights to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is not what you’re paying me for. This is not what I do. And I’d rather not,'” said Sajak. “But she’s a team player. And she was very nervous and not comfortable.”
Before White took over for him, he warned her not to go on social media to avoid potential backlash.
“There’s not much I could tell her. She knows the way the show works. I just tried to be encouraging and help out on that level,” he added. “But she had fun with it.”
He then reflected on his future with the show. “I’m doddering,” he said. “I think I still do it at a high level. But you know, I can’t do it another 40 years, I know that, because I’d be 110, and that would be a record.”
Watch the full interview below.
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