Heart and Soul: A Healing from Open-Heart Surgery – Part 1

Sometimes an event happens that is so big and so personal that it is difficult to share. That event happened to me on November 3, 2020. I thought I was having a heart attack.   Fortunately, it was not a heart attack, but it was the beginning of an amazing journey.

Even today, I still can’t fully wrap my head around everything that has happened. But I know this for sure: working out and working out hard helped keep me alive.  This is not hyperbole! It is fact!

It is interesting to hear health care professionals talk about your health and affirm everything you believe. The next few articles in this series hopefully should inspire a few people to work out and make a commitment to fitness. I am more committed than I have ever been. I know the results of my hard work. I know it was a big part of me still being alive.

As I have stated, this was an extremely personal event and I think the best way to share it is to allow my readers to read about my journey through my Facebook posts. Pay attention to the fact that this hit me hard, but it also shocked me, and it became a private journey. My cardiac event, as the doctors so affectionately called it, occurred on November 3, 2020. I did not tell many of my close friends or family about my situation or even mention a health issue on Facebook until December 16, 2020, two days before my surgery.  (Yes, I was shocked that I felt so private about it all.)

Here are my posts and a short chronicle of my heath journey:

December 16, 2020

 Facebook Friends and Family:

 I have lived a public life, but I am still a private person, so I have not shared this on Facebook until now. I have been taking it easy during the last several weeks. On election night, I thought I was having a heart attack and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. (This was non-election-related!)

 I spent four days in the hospital (Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Virginia) having numerous tests and procedures. Since then, I have been teaching and working from home. To make a long story short, I will have open-heart surgery on December 18, 2020 at Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. I was born with a genetic flaw and my aortic valve needs to be replaced. This also caused me to have an aortic root aneurysm and related problems. I am hoping to be on the road to recovery in January and 100% by March. I know that is a lot, but it is 2020. Fortunately, all my working out has helped, since I have no signs of heart disease to complicate these matters. Working out matters!

 I hope to talk to everyone soon and your prayers will be greatly appreciated!! I will keep you posted.

 December 22, 2020

 I am home and resting. Thank you for your prayers. I will post more at a later date. I am very grateful that this is behind me and I can begin healing.

 December 30, 2020

 An update! I am feeling great! I think it is a good time to thank everyone at Sentara Heart Hospital for their excellent care. Everyone I dealt with – and I mean everyone – was an outstanding professional. I had the best surgeon; the best nurses and the best hospital staff work with me. I feel completely blessed!!! They took care of me, nursed me, and made me feel secure!

 I will never forget the kindness and compassion I experienced. I am home, back on my feet, and healing nicely. I will be back to normal a lot quicker than I thought. The 10lb-lifting limit will kill the gym for a short time, but it is small price to be back at 100%. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be working out. I will say more about that later!!!

 I also want to thank my friends and family for their prayers. It made the difference. I am way ahead in my recovery and look forward to getting back all the way!! I hope to see many of you in the near future!!!

 Love you guys!!!

 January 7, 2021

 Update: I am happy to say that less than three weeks after my open-heart surgery, I will start teaching virtually again today. When Poquoson High School opens up for classes on January 19, 2021, I will be there. I feel blessed with my progress.

 I would like to thank everyone for their prayers, calls, cards, texts, and meals. I have felt loved throughout this process. The care I received from the time of my ambulance ride by Newport News Fire Department, my stay at Riverside Hospital and my surgery at Sentara Heart Hospital was second to none. These people were beautiful.

 This entire process has strengthened my faith tremendously. I still have another two months before I can start lifting anything over ten pounds. So, my gym time and my personal training are on hold. However, I know that in a couple of months I will be back to lifting and training. Again, I thank everyone for their support!

 Love you guys.







January 14, 2021

 It was great to be back at Onelife Fitness!!!!! I can’t lift more than 10lbs, but I can do the bike and other exercises. It’s hard to keep a good man down!! And yes, I am addicted to the gym!!!







And the news just keeps getting better, even with the 10lb weight limit. On January 18, 2021, one month after my surgery, I will be back training my clients. The next day, I will be at Poquoson High School teaching in person. That’s right, I will be  back in the building.

This is beyond anything I could have hoped for. It is beyond anything I could have wished for and I can thank a great medical staff for my success. I am also be grateful that  I was working out intensely. It is this combination that has me back on my feet.

Over the next few weeks, I will go into more detail but, for now, keep working out and stay blessed!

Joseph St. John