‘I lost half my blood’
Al Roker is back on Today after a two-month absence. He discovered that in addition to the blood clot, he had major surgery, including the removal of his colon. (Photo: Today)
Al Roker is back on the Today show after a life-threatening health battle.
The weatherman, who has been off the air for more than two months as he recovers from hospital stays dealing with blood clots and internal bleeding that required major surgery, was hailed by his colleagues Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. just arrived at NBC’s Studio 1A at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on Friday.
“Yes!” Kotb exclaimed in the clip as Roker, 68, emerged from the elevator in a full suit and hat accompanied by his wife, ABC News’ Deborah Roberts. “You’re home,” Guthrie told him.
At the top of the show, Guthrie said: “It’s a really special Friday morning. I’m sorry, but the tears are already flowing. Al Roker is back! … To say we’ve missed him doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s nothing without you here.”
Hotb said the crew was “in tears” and the crowd outside “has been hit every day we’ve been out there” without him. “They say, ‘Where’s Al?’
Roker called everyone after the show his “second family” and said “it’s good to be back — and wearing pants” after a month-long hospitalization followed by recovery at home. He said his heart was “just exploding” as his colleagues pulled out all the stops, including welcoming him with his hype music, the A-Team theme song.
Roker’s sense of humor, a constant since he joined the show in 1996, was on even if he admitted he was running on adrenaline. Later in the show, when Carson Daly joked about Kotb using Roker’s dressing room as extra closet space while he was gone, Roker responded, “Actually, they already cleaned them out. [But] I’m wearing her Spanx now. These are fantastic!”
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Rocker’s health journey was discussed in detail in later segments. He initially suffered from stomach pains, but they escalated and, among other issues, he had blood clots in his lungs, which doctors suspected he had of having COVID in September. However, this was complicated by mysterious internal bleeding, which necessitated surgery and revealed two bleeding ulcers. He also had a colonectomy, where part or all of his colon is removed and his gallbladder removed.
Roker said, “I lost half my blood” midway through the illness and recovered in a surgical ICU.
Roker’s gastroenterologist, Felice H. Schnoll-Sussman, described herself as “extremely concerned. He had a life-threatening experience. There’s no doubt about it.” Roker credited him, his internal medicine specialist Jay Raman and the rest of his medical team for “saving his life.”
As for his health going forward, Schnoll-Sussman said at this point he needs TLC — time, good food, rest and being with loved ones.
Roker’s family, including his wife and three children, were by his side as he recovered. Roberts, from rival ABC News, joined them on the show to talk about helping Rocker get back on his feet.
When Kotb pointed out that people probably didn’t realize how serious Roker’s situation was and that he needed to be “rescued,” Roberts said, “It’s not lost on us that this is a big, important thing for Al to be here. He’s a living, breathing miracle. He really is. I’m not exaggerating, I don’t think. Al was a very, very, very sick man and I think most people didn’t know that .”
Roberts revealed that Roker’s condition was “a medical mystery for several weeks”, going through tests, goals before “big, big surgery”.
“It was the most turbulent and frightening trip we’ve ever been on,” she admitted.
Roberts said her first sign that things were going to be okay was when an “exhausted and exhausted” Roker, who barely had a voice, whispered to her from his hospital bed, “I’m going to have a cock the sea for Christmas”, she. he recalled with a laugh.
“That was the moment for me… I’m sitting here hoping he makes it to Christmas and he wants to make a turkey,” she laughed. “I just knew at that point — that will, that drive.”
Roker credited his wife and family for helping him get through it. “I had no idea how bad I was,” he admitted, saying Roberts protected him from it.
Al Roker’s wife, Deborah Roberts, joined him to talk about his health battle. “Al was a very, very, very sick man and I think most people didn’t know that,” she admitted. (Photo: Today)
“I’m grateful to have this woman around, all of you and you people at home,” he said. “Prayer, you can feel it.”
Roker added that his doctors told him if he wasn’t in the shape he was in as he documents his daily walks on the Start Today show, “this could have been a different outcome.”
Roker hasn’t been on the air since November. He missed his first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in two decades, as well as the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. One sweet moment was the Today show anchor and staff going to his house to serenade him with Christmas music.
Roker was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. He had his prostate removed as well as surgeries to fix hip and knee problems. In 2002, he also underwent gastric bypass surgery.