Kaley Cuoco’s life and career, as well as that of her fan-favorite series The Big Bang Theory, were on the verge of major changes after a horrific horse riding accident.
Cuoco (Penny), in a recent oral history book titled The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series, along with co-actor Johnny Galecki (Leonard Hofstadter) and showmaker Chuck Lorre talked about the incident, which took place in September 2010.
According to an excerpt obtained from PEOPLE, Cuoco was a longtime horse racer who took a startling fall while riding a horse in Los Angeles.
Then the horse tried to jump on her. However, Cuoco was still taken to the hospital for her treatment as it landed on her left leg instead.
In the book, Lorre referred to the moment as “the darkest, most frightening time” in the series’ 12-year run.
“Kaley could have lost her leg. It was a series of miracles that allowed us to get through that and for her to come out the other end of that healthy,” he stated.
One of the miracles was that Lorre knew Dr. Stephen Lombardo, who worked at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic for Sports Medicine in Cedars-Sinai and asked Lombardo for help.
Per Lorre, his actor was quickly out “in surgery with the best surgeons available to stop an infection because her leg was wide open.”
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The Big Bang Theory Continued
Cuoco recounted that she had to sign an acknowledgement that she could lose her leg post-op.
“Before I went into surgery, they made me sign something that said, ‘We don’t know until we get in there and see this leg, and it could come out that you don’t have it anymore.’ That wasn’t the case, obviously, but I had to sign something that said, ‘OK, you can,’” Cuoco stated.
“Everything ended up fine, and I was up and working a week later, but the doctors acted like I was never going to walk again. It’s still too much for me to go into, and it sounded way worse than it was. And, of course, it was spiraling, and everyone was freaking out, which I get. It scared people.”
“But I think it scared people in a good way, myself included,” Galecki said. “The first day I saw you in that state, I just shed tears in my garage.”
The excerpt stated that while doctors were worried that Cuoco wouldn’t be capable of walking for months, she was sent home from the hospital after two weeks with a walking boot and eventually was merely written out of the series for two episodes.
“It was an absolutely miraculous intervention that I ran into Dr. Steve,” Lorre stated. “Every time I see him, I say, ‘Thank you! You saved Kaley! On a lesser level, you saved The Big Bang Theory!’”
Fortunately, Cuoco completed her run on the series as planned, with The Big Bang Theory giving a final season on May 16, 2019, following 279 episodes ranging 12 seasons.
The Big Bang Theory also starred Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper), Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz), Kunal Nayyar (Raj Koothrappali), Melissa Rauch (Bernadette Rostenkowski), and Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler).
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