Michigan coach Beilein reflects on offseason heart surgery
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — John Beilein wasn’t all that enthused about taking his annual stress test this year. The procedure already had been put off for a bit because of the Michigan coach’s busy schedule.
“I actually wasn’t going to do it, because it’s no fun,” Beilein said. “They get you on the treadmill. They run you.”
Now Beilein can vouch for the importance of such tests, after doctors discovered he needed a double-bypass heart operation. Beilein had the surgery in early August at the University of Michigan’s Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center, and he looked and sounded like his normal self when he met with reporters Tuesday before the Wolverines started practice.
The 65-year-old coach is ready for the upcoming season, and although he’s still dealing with some soreness, the lingering effects of surgery are relatively minor at this point.
“I can’t throw a chest pass. I can’t yell yet,” Beilein said. “But I expect to be able to do that.”
It already had been an eventful year for Beilein. He led Michigan to the Final Four, where the Wolverines reached the national title game before losing to Villanova. Then he was in the mix for the Detroit Pistons’ coaching opening but ended up staying at Michigan .
Then came his health issue and all that entailed.
“This has been as unique a nine months as anybody could have,” Beilein said.
Beilein described the initial shock of realizing he needed the operation — and the immediate aftermath of such a serious procedure.
“When you wake up, and you realize what just happened to you: Your heart’s been stopped, for a long period of time, and you’ve been carved open,” Beilein said. “The doctors were incredible, but you realize, that was literally life-changing.”
Beilein had surgery shortly before the Wolverines went to Spain. There was some thought that maybe he could wait and have surgery after that trip, which he skipped, but he went ahead with the operation Aug. 6, giving himself plenty of time to recover before the season.
Assistant Saddi Washington served as interim coach in Beilein’s absence. Beilein, meanwhile, had a chance to do some reading and watch baseball’s postseason races.
Beilein said he started rehab this week.
“They want to do to me what I do to my team,” he said. “My first workout was yesterday, all wired up, and that’s how they do it.”
Michigan has an exhibition game on Nov. 2, and the season opener against Norfolk State is Nov. 6. So Beilein still has plenty of time before he needs to be on the sideline for an actual game. After a jarring offseason, Beilein says he appreciates health a lot more.
“For a guy who doesn’t feel old — I hope I don’t look old — I continue to learn like crazy,” he said. “Just embracing whatever journey God plans for you.”
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