Getting back on the green after open-heart surgery

Rockford, Ill. (WIFR) Most days, you can find Tim Hopper out on the golf course.

"I'd call it two and a half times a week, and then I practice probably 3 or 4 times a week, too," said Hopper, a Rockton-resident.

But back on March 19th, he said something just didn't feel right.

"You kind of blow it off as old age, or you know, you get up in the morning a little sore, but for some reason I just didn't do it that morning, so I decided to go in," Hopper said.

Hopper said he felt pain in his back, and his wife drove him to SwedishAmerican Hospital, where it was determined he had a blockage in his heart.

"I thought, you know at first, they'll put a stint in, I'll be on my way and home tomorrow. Well home tomorrow turned into 20 days in the hospital," said Hopper.

After two-open heart surgeries, and the care of his doctor, Hopper is ready to hit the links once again.

"I think he had a goal in mind of getting back to his golf game, and he did all the things I asked of him to get better quickly," said Dr. Srinivas Kolla, a cardiothoracic surgeon at SwedishAmerican. "When I told him he would have to walk at least 9 holes to start playing golf, he did that within a couple of weeks."

Something Hopper definitely used as motivation to heal faster.

"I started chipping and putting at six weeks, and then gradually built everything up real slow. It's hard to not over do it, because you want to get back out there, but it was well worth waiting," Hopper said.

At 65 years old, Hopper says in some ways, he is in better shape than he was before the surgery.

"Right now, I feel great, I'm feel like I'm swinging full. The ball's not going quite as far yet, but I'm probably 90 percent there," said Hopper.

So now he's back on the green, taking life one swing at a time.