Edyta Sliwinska and Jeffrey Ross by Michael Desmond/ABC
He lifted his black sparkle eye-patch and the left eye looked terribly swollen, as if he'd been crying. But Comedy Central roastmaster Jeffrey Ross, who suffered a painful scratched cornea during Monday's dress rehearsals, wasn't shedding tears about being the first dancer eliminated from Dancing with the Stars.

"For me, it was never about the competition, it was about the dancing," says Ross, who signed up for the show to honor the great comedians of the '50s and '60s who could sing, dance and tell jokes. "Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett... they were great entertainers," says Ross. "This was my tribute to them."

But signing up was also his way of making a life transformation. This isn't the first freak accident that has stopped Ross in his tracks. Five years ago, on a Christmas Eve outing with his nephews to a Washington state ice rink, he broke his left hip trying to avoid a little girl who had fallen in front of him. That hip is now held together by three titanium pins. "That's why I walk funny," he says. Ross was also recently diagnosed with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. "So when I got a call asking me, 'Do you want to do Dancing with the Stars?' it was like a call from the heavens, a chance to get back into shape."

And over the past month, he has. "My left hip is a lot stronger now," he says. "My shoulders are stronger. And I probably lost 15 pounds."

Not only that, but his partner, Edyta Sliwinska, reports that the pair will probably get the chance to perform the dance number they had prepared for Tuesday, the quick step, during this week's second elimination show. "Production said we can do it since we worked on it for all those weeks," says Sliwinska.

Sliwinska says she's proud of her partner, who was advised not to dance after his cornea injury. But she had a feeling in her gut that their dancing days were numbered. "I know how this competition works and I know how wonderful all the other couples are," she says. "But it's all right. Jeffrey put great effort into learning to dance, and he had the courage to go out there and dance with an injury." - Deborah Starr Seibel

For a full rundown of the episode, read our recap!