Germaphobe Howie Mandel Calls Hospitalization 'Really Hard'

01/15/2009 at 04:50 PM EST

Germaphobe Howie Mandel Calls Hospitalization 'Really Hard'
Howie Mandel
Jen Lowery/LFI
Howie Mandel isn't surprised fans may have thought his hospital trip on Monday to treat an irregular heartbeat was an elaborate part of his NBC hidden camera series Howie Do It, but his experience getting treatment could make a whole reality show in itself.

"It was no treat for me, being the germaphobe that I am," Mandel tells PEOPLE. "It was really hard. I wouldn't put on the gown or the customary clothing. I remained clothed and in my boots on the gurney and in the hospital!"

Mandel, 53, discovered he had an irregular heartbeat after an insurance-mandated checkup while he was on location in Toronto led to an EKG test, which led to a cardioversion, a procedure that shocked his heartbeat back to normal.

But after leaving the hospital, Mandel passed out while walking through the lobby of his hotel, and was put on a gurney and rushed back via ambulance.

Dehydrated Before Passing Out

"Apparently I passed out because I hadn't eaten, I was dehydrated and I was on medication," says Mandel. "It had nothing to do with my heart. I did not have a heart attack."

While Mandel was okay, his family fretted.

"While I was being checked, I didn't have my cell phone with me and then when I pick up my cell phone, in a message, my daughter is in tears and going, 'Daddy, please call me, are you okay?' You realize how important people close to you are and nothing else matters. My family and all of our health is paramount to anything."

Mandel's wife Terry has since flown to Toronto. "I said I'm fine but she just wants to sit with me," he says. "So my wife just sits with me and laughs with me and that's what she's doing this week. We've been together 35 years and she's my rock."

2006: Howie reveals backstage secrets of Deal Or No Deal!

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