Jimmy Fallon Reveals His Finger Almost Had to Be Amputated After Freak Fall: "I Was in the ICU for 10 Days"

Tonight Show host reveals how a funny fall in the kitchen turned into a severe hand injury that required emergency surgery

By Zach Johnson Jul 14, 2015 12:15 PMTags

Jimmy Fallon is on the mend.

The Tonight Show host addressed his recent injury in Monday's show.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be back and seeing you guys here. What a crazy break we had, a two-week break. So basically what happened is I tripped and fell on a braided rug that my wife loved, and I can't wait to burn it to the ground. I tripped and fell and I caught my fall. So I'm getting up and my finger's sideways. So I go, 'Oh, my God! Did I just break my finger? This is the lamest thing in the whole world.' It completely looks fake, like in a cheap horror movie where you see a broken finger. It looks like that! That's what it looks like. So I wrap my hand in a towel and I get in a cab and go to the emergency room. I go, 'I broke my finger! I think I broke my finger!' And they go, 'Oh, you didn't break your finger.'"

So, what did he do exactly?

"It's a thing called ring avulsion. A-V-U-L-S-I-O-N. If you Google it, it's graphic images. Don't Google it. But ring avulsion, it's a real thing...My ring got caught on a countertop when I was going down and stuck there and pulled my finger out," he explained. "Trust me, I'm like, 'Wait, what?' I didn't even look at the thing. So I go, 'Can you fix it?' And they go, 'Oh, no. No. We've got to send you somewhere else.'"

"Really, this is like microsurgery. This is like a thing. I was at Beth Israel. I had to go over to Bellevue Hospital. This amazing doctor, Dr. David Chiu, comes in. He has a bowtie and cowboy boots. 'That's my doctor! That's my guy!' I knew it when he walked in. I go, 'That's the guy who's going to save my finger.'"

Jokes aside, Fallon, 40, revealed the "odds aren't great with these things...Usually they just cut your finger off. So, I was going to lose my finger. And I was like, 'Wow.' So this guy did surgery for like six hours—microsurgery—so it's like under a microscope. He had to take a vein out of my foot. It's a crazy story! I didn't know this was happening because I was knocked out at this point. So he took a vein out of my foot and put it in there. Veins only work one way...so you have to remember which way and reverse it, and if you're putting it together and you do one missed stitch or something like that, the vein closes up and it's useless. You screwed up and it's not going to happen. And he did it. He saved my finger."

Fallon held up his hand to prove it.

"Now you can see it's pink on the end. It was white like this color," he said, pointing to his cast. "I won't get feeling back for eight weeks, he said. I was in the ICU for 10 days. And I've gotta say, the doctors and the nurses over at Bellevue Hospital, thank you so much for taking care of me. Oh, my gosh. I love you guys. It's a tough job. It's a tough, tough job. You guys are rock stars and just awesome, awesome people." He then thanked additional doctors, nurses and health professionals who aided his recovery.

During his 10-day ICU stint, the NBC late-night host recalled, "I started losing it halfway through because you just sit there. You're in a room. And I just started reading books about the meaning of life. I did!"

His book of choice: Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.

"I absolutely loved it! I highlighted things in it. I know the meaning if everyone wants to know," the Emmy winner joked. "We'll have a drink later. I'll tell you all about it. It's not as difficult as you'd think."

So, what did else did he do in the ICU?

"I watched The DUFF. Did you see that? It's fantastic. It's like the new Mean Girls. I loved it. I watched it three times...I watched Real Housewives of New York. But really I was watching TV and I was reading this meaning of life thing and I think, 'This is the meaning of my life. I belong in TV and I should be talking to people who are watching who are either in an ICU—or wherever you are, at home—if anyone's suffering at all, this is my job. I'm here to make you laugh. I want to make you have a good time. Get out of that hospital! Get out! I'm telling you, you're going to be fine. Listen to your nurses! They will get you out!"

"That's my job. That's why I'm here. That's what I want to do," Fallon said.

He added, "I want to spread the love."

"I just want to say thank you to everyone and all the Twitter comments. It was so thoughtful and nice of everybody. It's good to have comedian friends because I got so many stupid e-mails that really made me laugh and got me through some just crazy days," he said. "And of course, my wife. I have to thank her, too."

The one person Fallon didn't hear from was Steve Higgins.

The reason, sadly, is that Higgins learned he has Lyme Disease.

"The Roots, I don't even want to ask," Fallon said. "Is everybody OK over there?"

"I broke a nail," Questlove joked.

As serious as his injuries were, Fallon kept his sense of humor. "I should say, the fall was funny. I'm a comedian so I have to fall funny," he explained. "On a scale from 1 to 10, it was almost Jerry Lewis-y."

"I feel bad for anyone who trips, but if it was me watching me, I would laugh."

As a result of his fall and its surgery, Fallon joked, "I'm inventing a new ring. I can't give it away. But if you guys are in the ring business, I already have ideas. I have sketches drawn out. I had 10 days in the ICU."

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