Buddy Valastro's future in baking is on the line.
On Sept. 20, the Cake Boss star was bowling with his family on their in-home alley when a malfunction with the pinsetter caused a horrific accident. “I’ve reset it a hundred times,” Valastro, 43, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. This time, “I guess I looked away, and then my hand got pinned. The metal barb pushed right through the middle of my ring finger and my middle finger. I was stuck in a machine.”
Within five minutes, Valastro's eldest sons and his brother-in-law, Joe Faugno, were able to free him using pliers and a saw. He's since undergone two surgeries and is resting at home in Montville, N.J. Because he has nerve, tendon and muscle damage in his dominant right hand, he will require physical therapy (and maybe more surgery) as part of his months-long recovery.
″It's really preliminary right now, but they're saying it's definitely going to be a long road to recovery,″ he says.
His wife Lisa, and their four kids, Sofia, 17, Buddy Jr., 16, Marco, 13, and Carlo, 9, are all pitching in to make sure their dad is comfortable.
″He is an excellent patient," says Lisa.
It remains unclear if he will be able to return to creating the towering cakes at his famed Carlo’s Bakery, which made him a household name.
“I have a thing with my hands. If I get a paper cut on my hand, I'm pissed off. My hands to me are my lifeline of everything I do,” he says. “And I wonder, ‘Am I ever going to do what I used to be able to do?’ ”
Lisa has no doubt: “He will bake again, even if he has to use his left hand. Trust me.”
There is one person who could help get Valastro back in the kitchen when the time comes: his costar and rival on the Food Network show Buddy vs. Duff.
″Duff was one of the first people who reached out when he heard and he's been so supportive,″ says Valastro. ″I'm going to need him to force me to get back into it."
For more on Buddy Valastro and his scary accident, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
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