“It could have been a lot worse. When I saw the X-ray, I really nearly smashed my spine to pieces, so I literally wouldn’t (have) been able to walk,” he told "Extra" in his first interview since he fell off an electric bike last August.
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Cowell said the crash was “sudden” and that he "knew I’d broken my back the minute I landed.”
“You’re not supposed to get up, but I made myself kind of get carried into my bedroom, which is right there at the end of the house, and I’m lying there and I’m kind of passing out. I mean, it was just was surreal,” he said.
Cowell, 61, was recovering ahead of schedule last year, and singled out partner Lauren Silverman and their son Eric, 7, for helping him heal.
“She was amazing. Both her and Eric, they were like my support. I couldn’t have gotten through it without them, so we got closer,” he said.
The former “American Idol” star also said he felt a little sheepish about what happened when he returned home.
“The hardest thing was, and I said this to Lauren when I came out of the hospital, I was so embarrassed about coming home, looking about 100 because I couldn’t walk, and I have these metal rods in my back and all these screws,” he said.
“And I said to Lauren I just don’t know how to explain it to him (Eric). And she obviously said something to him because he came in and I was lying in bed and he went, ‘Daddy, you’re like Iron Man,’ and I thought that was the sweetest thing and it meant a lot.”
Cowell said the helplessness he experienced during the ordeal marked new ground for him.
“I’ve never been in this situation in my life where you literally can’t move,” he said. “The pain was off the charts and everything else. But you’ve got to stay positive. And then I was just determined. I made a promise to myself I’d be fitter than I was before I had the accident. And sure enough, that’s what happened.”
Cowell also said he's physically better than he was before his accident.
"I've got to be honest with you, it wasn't that bad actually breaking your back," he told fellow "America's Got Talent" judge Sofia Vergara in a People interview. "I mean it wasn't great for 3-4 weeks but after that you get through it. I had to do so much exercise now. I actually feel better than I did before the accident."
Cowell couldn’t work on “America’s Got Talent” while he recovered, but he felt everyone managed to carry on without missing a beat.
“They were almost too good. I was watching the show thinking, ‘Can you not be great?’”