Two months after a freak accident mangled his right hand, Buddy Valastro's recovery is slow but steady.
On Oct. 21 the Cake Boss star, 43, underwent his third surgery on his hand, which was impaled by a metal barb as he was fixing the pinsetter in his home bowling alley in September.
“I was in a really bad place mentally in the beginning,” he tells PEOPLE in this week's issue, on newsstand Friday. "I kept waking up to night sweats of the nightmare of it happening, and the pain."
These days, Valastro says he is "trying to think positive," though he admits it is a struggle. "I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to ice a cake the same way or be as fast as I used to be. That's still to be discovered, and not knowing kind of sucks."
With numbness and limited motion in two of his fingers, Valastro can’t easily button his pants or cut his food.
One victory: “I can hold a fork like a little kid would,” he says. "So I've been trying to use it a little bit more, but just in different settings and different times."
"You don't realize how much you can really move your hands in different directions. You take for granted certain things," he adds. "One of the weirdest things for me has been washing my face."
The swelling in his hand could last a year, and he may need more surgeries.
For now, he is staying busy by hosting events and promoting his new Food Network show Buddy vs. Christmas, premiering Nov. 22, which was taped pre-accident. “We finished that show a week before this happened,” he says. “I remember thinking, were those the last cakes I'm ever going to make?”
He's also been documenting his recovery both at home and at his famed Carlo's Bakery for a TLC special, Buddy Valastro: Road to Recovery, on Dec. 23.
“There’s part of me that wants to train lefty,” he says of baking again. “That’s plan B. First thing I got to do is heal.”
Watch Valastro go against craft masters on Food Network's Buddy vs. Christmas, premiering on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT — and follow his journey to healing on the upcoming two-hour TLC special Buddy Valastro: Road to Recovery on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
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