Pat Sajak reveals how much longer he wants to host 'Wheel of Fortune'

Pat Sajak doesn't plan to host Wheel of Fortune forever.

In a taped interview that aired on Friday's episode of Good Morning America, the 73-year-old game show host revealed that he'll likely depart the series within the next few years.

"I'm not getting any younger. A couple of years," he said of how much longer he thinks he'll host the show. "You know what I'm really sensitive about? I'd rather leave a couple years too early than a couple years too late... I don't have a date in mind, but two, three [years], something like that."

Sajak's reveal came just over a month after he underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine. He began to feel "excruciating" pain following a walk with his 24-year-old daughter, Maggie. Sajak and his wife, Lesly Brown, also share a 29-year-old son, Patrick.

"My daughter Maggie and I, we took a walk in the morning as we traditionally do early. And I came home ready to get ready to go to work. And suddenly I had this horrific pain in my stomach. And obviously didn't know what it [was], but within two and a half hours, I was in surgery," he recalled. "I mean it was that quick and that intense...You couldn't do anything. I was in the fetal position, lying on the bed."

"So they try to give you various drugs for the pain. And none of it -- none -- was working. And then they gave me something, I couldn't even tell you the name of it, but suddenly, I wasn't thinking about the pain. I just had these beautiful pastels and lovely faces coming out of it," he continued. 

While in that state, Sajak heard his wife and daughter talking next to him, but, because "it sounded like they were a mile off," he thought he was near death.

"I remember thinking, not in a morbid way, 'I think this must be death. This must be what death is like,'" he said. "And all I thought of, hearing their voices, I thought, 'Boy, their lives are gonna change now.' And I felt badly for them. I didn't feel badly about dying. I felt badly that they were gonna have to deal with the aftermath."

Vanna White through the years
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Vanna White through the years
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 1: TV Personality Vanna White being photographed at 'Exclusive Photo Session' on April 1, 1984 at her home in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 1: TV Personality Vanna White being photographed at 'Exclusive Photo Session' on April 1, 1984 at her home in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 1: TV Personality Vanna White being photographed at 'Exclusive Photo Session' on April 1, 1984 at her home in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Vanna White photographed with her ex-boyfriend John Gibson in Los Angeles. 1980 (Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)
File Photo of Vanna White at her home in Los Angeles, Calif. taken 9/7/85. (Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 8: TV personality Vanna White and actor Billy Hufsey on December 8, 1986 dine at Nicky Blair's Restaurant in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Aired 10/27/1986 -- Pictured: (l-r) Game show co-host Vanna White, guest host Garry Shandling -- Photo by: Wendy Perl/NBCU Photo Bank
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Aired 09/04/1986 -- Pictured: Wheel of Fortune co host Vanna White on September 4, 1986 -- Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank
LOS ANGELES - 1986: Actress Vanna White poses for a portrait in 1986 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - SEPTEMBER 22: TV Personality Vanna White attending 'Press Conference for HOT 97 FM Radio' on September 22, 1988 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JULY 01: Vanna White (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Vanna White And Sylvester Stallone during 1988 White House Correspondent Association Dinner at Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C., United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Vanna White and Pat Sajak photographed by Walter McBride in 1990. (Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 16: Vanna White (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Vanna White during Fire & Ice Ball in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
UNITED STATES - MAY 14: Vanna White is present at the Dom Perignon vintage Rose 1993 release party at Thom's restaurant in SoHo. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Vanna White & Pat Sajak during 30th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Show at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY, United States. (Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown/WireImage)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - DECEMBER 06: Co-host Vanna White is interviewed prior to the taping of the NFL Players Week 10th Anniversary on Wheel Of Fortune on December 6, 2005 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images for PLAYERS INC)
Tv personality Vanna White attends the Los Angeles Foodbank's Season For Sharing Awards at Wilshire Grand Hotel on December 7, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
- NOVEMBER 12: Vanna White attends U.S. Launch Event for Lotus New Era on November 12, 2010 at Los Angeles, California. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
KATIE - 4/30/13 - Vanna White visits KATIE, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) VANNA WHITE
CULVER CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Vanna White attends the 50th Anniversary Of The Merv Griffin Show at Sony Pictures Studios on November 19, 2015 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Ser Baffo/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: TV Personality Vanna White attends the 14th annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball at a private Mandeville Canyon Estate on June 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: TV personality Vanna White attends the 14th annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball sponsored by Audi, Kayne Anderson, Lauren B. Beauty and Z Gallerie on June 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 10: 'Wheel of Fortune' host Vanna White attends a taping of the Wheel of Fortune's 35th Anniversary Season at Epcot Center at Walt Disney World on October 10, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: TV personality Vanna White attends The Wheel of Fortune: 35 Years as America's Game hosted by The Paley Center For Media at The Paley Center for Media on November 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
BRENTWOOD, CA - JUNE 03: Vanna White attends the 16th annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball on June 3, 2017 in Brentwood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
PASADENA, CA - APRIL 30: Vanna White attends the CBS Daytime Emmy After Party at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on April 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)

"As it turned out, I was just high," he joked, adding, "... It's an odd thing when you're in that moment. I wasn't heartbroken about it. I wasn't devastated by it, I just felt badly for those around me whose lives, I thought, were going to change rather dramatically."

Following the "completely successful" surgery, though, Sajak is feeling better than ever.

"They're kinda at a loss to know exactly why it happened, but there's no after effect. There's no underlying medical issue. I don't have to change anything about my life," he said. "I'm as good or bad as new, and that's great. I still have my wits about me. They didn't remove that, so I'll be selling vowels for a long time."

"... I'm feelin' great. I've actually felt ridiculously good for several weeks," he added. "I've been back in the studio actually, doing shows. Even spinning the wheel and, you know, nothing has popped. So I think it's OK."

While he's back at work now, Sajak did have to miss filming for a bit while recovering.

"In nearly 40 years I've never missed a taping, so it was very strange. It felt really bizarre to know that that stuff was going on without me. And going on well without me. That really was troubling," he quipped.

In his absence, Vanna White stepped in to host the show, something that Sajak commended her for.

"What a trooper. And I'm not being condescending in any way 'cause it would've been well within her rights to say, 'Wait a minute, this is not what you're paying me for and this is not what I do and I'd rather not.' But she's a team player," he said. "And she was very nervous and not comfortable... She did a great job."

While Sajak was more than pleased with White's work, he advised her not to check social media after filling in as the host.

"First thing I said to her, I said, 'Do not go on social media because there are going to be people who are jerks and they're going to say nasty things because they can, because they can communicate with you directly, they can be anonymous,'" he recalled. "I don't understand why people have to be so nasty. She's out there doing her best. She didn't ask to be put in that position."

Despite not asking for the job, White took on the role so well that Sajak joked it made him "a little nervous."

"When I went back [to] taping last week she brought in some homemade cupcakes and I did have someone else taste mine first before I ate it. Just to know. I don't think she would do anything to me," he said.

Now back at work, Sajak has recently been reflecting on the show's legacy and impact.

"I'm not a young man and I've still been doing it over half my life. As I get older... I now appreciate more than ever what this show means. I don't mean to make too much of it, it's a game show, I understand. But it's very evocative," he said. "People identify the show with raising families, with watching it with their grandmother. People come up to me almost every day and say, 'I just lost my grandmother and my fondest memory was sitting with her, watching your show,' or, 'My kids learned the alphabet from your show.'"

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