Pat Sajak and his daughter Maggie were on a walk one morning in 2019 when the Wheel of Fortune legend said he felt a sharp pain in his stomach. Within minutes of getting home, he couldn’t walk. The pain was “excruciating,” and he was rushed to the hospital curled in the fetal position.
Doctors determined it was an intestinal blockage that needed immediate surgery. But Sajak wasn’t sure if he would survive the ordeal, he told Good Morning America at the time.
The pain, he said, was unbearable, but so was the reality that his wife and daughter were facing, he said. Sajak’s blood pressure had plummeted, and he had to wait until it was high enough for surgery. Until surgeons could get inside and assess the problem, there was little anyone could do.
“No one knew, he said. “It was tough on Lesly, 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.”
As doctors waited to operate, they tried different ways to manage the pain. Most didn’t work, he said, but they finally found one that made him see “pastels and pretty faces.” He could hear his wife and daughter talking, but they seemed “a mile away” despite being next to him.
He said he assumed he had died. And he was experiencing his final moments of consciousness.
“I was hearing their voices, and I thought, ‘boy their lives are going to change now,’ and I felt badly for them,” he said. I didn’t feel badly about dying, I felt badly that they were gonna have to deal with the aftermath.”
But, he joked, he was thankfully just high from the pain medication.
Vanna White Takes Over Hosting Wheel of Fortune
As Pat Sajak, the stalwart host of Wheel of Fortune was being prepared for emergency surgery, the show was in panic mode. With or without Sajak, the show must go on. So, Vanna White, his trusty co-host took over in his stead while he was away.
“In nearly 40 years, I’ve never missed a taping, so it was very strange,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “It felt really bizarre to know that that stuff was going on without me. And going on well without me. That really was troubling,” he added, joking.
Sajak applauded his longtime partner for her performance. He said that despite her nerves, she “was a team player.”
“What a trooper,” said now 73-year-old Pat Sajak. “And I’m not being condescending in any way ’cause it would’ve been well within her rights to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is not what you’re paying me for, and this is not what I do and I’d rather not.’ But she’s a team player,” he said. “And she was very nervous and not comfortable… She did a great job.”