updated 03/24/2009 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/24/2009 AT 6:10 PM ET
She’s not quite ready to hit the dance floor yet, but Nancy O’Dell is on the path to recovery!
The Access Hollywood co-host, who had to pull out of Dancing with the Stars before the season premiere earlier this month, is resting at home after knee surgery.
“I feel pretty good considering I just had surgery a few days ago!” O’Dell tells PEOPLE, revealing she had torn her meniscus in two places and had arthroscopic knee surgery March 20.
“When the surgeon saw the inside of my knee, it was worse than he expected,” she explains. “To quote him, the meniscus in my knee was ‘shredded’. It looked like a snow globe.”
During the initial days after surgery, O’Dell was tired and needed help getting around. “My husband had to carry me up and down the stairs, even to the bathroom … now, that’s love!” she says.
Rehabilitation continues for six weeks, including exercising with a therapist three days a week. “I have to keep my leg elevated as much as possible,” says O’Dell, who is getting ready to promote her new book, Full of Life, in bookstores April 14. “So I spend a lot of time in bed or on the couch.”
All that downtimes gives her plenty of time to watch DWTS. “My baby girl claps loudly at the end of each dance,” she says of daughter Ashby, who turns 2 in June. “She particularly seems to like Steve-O!”
As for who O’Dell is rooting for, her loyalties are split three ways. “Of course, I’m rooting for Tony [Dovolani] and Melissa [Rycroft] to do well,” she says of her former partner and her replacement. “Tony practically became a member of my family, coming over for dinner, playing golf with my husband and teaching my baby girl how to dance.”
O’Dell continues: “Denise [Richards] has been a friend of mine for a while so I’m pulling for her. And Gilles [Marini] is a sweetheart! He came by my home yesterday with a beautiful orchid. I think my little girl fell in love with him because he kept giving her cookies. Heck, I think my hubby even got a crush … uh, oh, Tony is gonna be jealous.”
Although she is sitting out this round, O’Dell is eager to get back to competing on DWTS next season. “I’d like to come back because I have unfinished business to do!” she says. “I also want to be on the show in honor of my mom, as it was her favorite show. She passed away from ALS this past June and I wanted to bring some awareness about ALS and the charity MDA from being on the show.”