Buddy Valastro is opening up about his intense recovery process after suffering a serious injury to his right hand in September, and what it could mean for his future.
The Cake Boss star was hospitalized after an accident at his home’s bowling alley. His rep told ET at the time that there was a malfunction with the bowling pinsetter, and after Valastro tried to release the bowling pin from the cage mechanism, his right hand became lodged and compressed inside the unit. He was unable to remove his hand, and a 1-1/2′ metal rod slowly and repeatedly impaled his hand three times between his ring finger and middle finger.
In an interview with ET’s Kevin Frazier, the 43-year-old baker said he’s taking his recovery one day at a time and trying to remain positive.
“Well, I’m feeling good, you know, I feel like I’m in good spirits trying to look at the glass half full versus half empty,” he shares. “I’m, you know, just trying to recover and get all my strength back and see exactly what the full extent of everything is gonna wind up being, you know, because it’s still a little unforeseen. But the positives, I still have my hand right. I could’ve lost fingers and could’ve went through my wrist and been a lot worse. So, I’m taking it day by day and cake by cake.”
“Right now, realistically, you know, the scars have healed up,” he continues. “It’s very, very stiff. I don’t really have as much motion, as much strength, dexterity … So, it’s really just a matter of continuing to do rehab. I’d say I’m probably at, like, 10 or 15 percent of the strength that I used to have. … It’s just really gonna be a matter of time to see exactly what comes back with the nerve too. … And a lot of, like, nerve damage, so my fingers are kinda numb in the middle, you know? They’ll always feel numb and stiff … and we’ll see what happens.”
Valastro shared that he’s on his third surgery and will potentially undergo two or three more surgeries depending on how his physical therapy goes over the next two to three months. The swelling in his hand could also take a year to go down. He acknowledged that he may never be able to make cakes again in the future.
“Honestly, I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to do,” he shares. “I can assure you and everybody — again, whether I have to do a left-handed, a thirty percent — I’m going to try to do it with all of my heart. I just don’t know, you know, I might be like a boxer who’s got the heart but ain’t got the tools anymore and hope to God that that’s not the case and only time will tell.”
“It’s a reality of what it is,” he continues. “Look, I’m not the kind of guy — even though I don’t make every single thing with my own two hands, I still put a lot of my own touch on things, right? — and the fact is, if I can, if I can’t, I don’t want to be the coach, right? And just saying, ‘Guys, do this, do this, do this,’ I could do that. [But] I want to be the guy when it’s fourth and goal to say, ‘Give me the ball and run in for the touchdown.’ I’m not ready to be on the sidelines yet, so I don’t know what the transition is going to be or what capacity things are, you know, going to end in.”
However, Valastro is returning to Food Network and TLC this holiday season. He’s competing against expert craft masters on Food Network’s Buddy vs. Christmas, premiering on Sunday, Nov. 22, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, which is the last thing he filmed before his injury.
“I remember finishing filming that show, coming home to my wife and saying, ‘Lisa, these were like some of the best cakes I ever did in my life,'” he shares. “I said, ‘The show went so well.’ … I mean, we did a gingerbread house that for me, goes on the top five achievements of anything that I’ve done with me and my team. So, you know, that could be the level of what we did here. And, you know, some things happen for a reason. Like, this was the first time I ever competed and I had my son compete with me, so he was on two of the builds. And, you know, a week after we wrap, this happens to my hand and I remember laying in the hospital by myself saying, ‘Man, is that gonna be the last cakes that I ever made?’ Like, to that level, right? And, you know, I’m just so glad that I did it, and I’m so glad that it came out the way that it did from the cake standpoint and the fact that my son was with me, and my family, I think that we did some some amazing cakes.”
TLC is also airing a two-hour special on Valastro’s journey to healing his hand on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
“Coincidentally, we were filming something when this happened, and it just turned into this because it was about my life and this happened to be what was happening in my life right now, so there is going to be some definitely great moments,” he shares of the upcoming special. “I think it is a little different side of me than you have ever seen, a little bit more my family and home life, and I think that it is going to show it all. It is really going to show what happened, how it happened, and what the road to recovery looks like, and how my family was there and there was a lot we had to get over to get to where I am at today.”
His accident was especially traumatizing for two of his sons — 16-year-old Buddy Jr. and 13-year-old Marco — who had to use a reciprocating saw to cut through the metal rod and relieve their father from the bowling machine.
“Well, it was crazy. I mean, honestly, I don’t know why, but when I got up there and it was calm, I was calm in a sense where I was just trying to direct them to help me and they just wanted to get me out,” he recalls of the accident. “They were urgent but still calm. I feel like when I went into hospital, I feel like it hit them really hard because I think they wanted to see that I would be OK, right? I think they really worried and my biggest goal after I got out of the hospital was to get home to them and let them know that, you know what? I don’t know what it is going to be, but I am still here and that is all that matters.”
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Valastro says he has gone back to the bowling alley in his home since the accident.
“I actually went for the first time with the camera crew last week, and it was pretty intense,” he shares. “It was emotional, I would say.”
As for when Valsatro will be able to compete on camera again, he again said that was up in the air.
“It’s hard to say right now, I will do everything in my power,” he says. “I am not throwing in the towel yet and we are trying to film now but not competing yet, just really trying to get my training and my level up, but you could take it from me, I am going to do everything in my power — whether I got to do it left-handed, whether I got to do it with 30 to 40 percent of what I got — I will give everything I got no matter what.”
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