Updated: Sep 23, 2019
Meet "Hollywood" Joey Williamson
Listen or Watch my story HERE
My name is Joey Williamson. I was born with Congenital Heart Disease in the form of Pulmonary Atresia, VSD. I also had other birth defects such as my liver was outside of my body, and clubbed feet. I was born on February 4th, 1985, at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI.
I was only given a week to live and I am still here. I have had open heart surgeries. My first one was on Dec 23rd 1987, to put the initial conduit in.
I had the same cardiologist for 33 years until he retired. He was an amazing man who cared for his patients and spent as much time with them as they needed. He was always brutally honest but encouraging about my situation. As for my mom, I wish she would have had support groups she could have gone to so she could talk to parents who were dealing with children with the same issues I had.
Growing up I wanted to be a pro wrestler or be involved in sports. Physically I never was able to achieve that goal. However, in 2004 I starts my pro wrestling and sports blog called, Hollywood's World of Sports. I have had some incredible experiences in my many years running this blog and in the end I got to live out my dreams and passions.
As an adult things did change. My energy declined in 2002 and 2013. I had a very hard time functioning and almost had no energy leading up to the surgeries. In both 2002 and 2014 I had conduit replacement surgery.
A couple of years after I had my 3rd open surgery in 2014, I discovered I had Sleep Apnea. I am very fortunate now to have a sleep machine which improved my overall health and energy. I currently do not take any medications.
The unknown of what to expect in surgery and what I am going to wake up to has terrified me. I have always requested that my surgeries be first thing in the morning so I'd be too tired to think about it. My last surgery in 2014 was the worst because I couldn't drive for six weeks and it was in the middle of winter. My best advice is if you're active like I am is to have surgery in the spring or fall.
In 2002, the year got off to a bad start. Two kids from my high school passed away within 3 days of each other. In June I had a heart cath which determined that I needed open heart surgery. Early on I was very depressed and felt like there was nothing left for me to do. Fortunately my parents brought me to Disney World for an awesome vacation and my friends rallied around me when I came back.
In 2014, I was really weak and the year leading up I was in a family wedding and made the decision to love the next year of my life to the fullest. I did a lot of fun things but the last 2-3 months prior to February 12th 2014 were some of the roughest in my life. Even though I struggled I kept a positive attitude which allowed me to persevere time and time again.
I got through those times by my faith, reading my bible and listening to a lot of worship music. It calmed my soul a lot. I also spent a lot of time writing and putting a lot of effort into Hollywood's World of Sports.
Also what helped get me through hard times is my fiancee. She is my world. We share a lot of interests and have a lot of fun together. My family and friends are also a huge part of my life as well as my church family. Following sports and pro wrestling have been a big influence in my life and keep me motivated in terms of pursuing my dreams. Independence Pro Wrestling out of Kalamazoo, MI welcomed me into their family in 2018 and I've been involved with helping out with their promotion. It's been a real eye opener and motivator for me.
As for future surgeries, my surgeries in 2002 and 2014 were both conduit replacements and doctors say that I won't need one again until I am in my 60s.
Currently, in the warmer months I am at the gym three to five days a week. I usually work on abdominal muscles and then 30 to 60 mins of cardio. I tend to eat a lot of protein and drink a lot of water which helps my kidney function.
My hobbies include blogging, playing video games, going to sporting events, going to Civil War Reenactments, and being a Evangelist.
I work in retail part time, but I also volunteer at my church and spend a lot of time at church functions.
My favorite quote is "Controversy Doesn't Come Without Criticism," because it is the motto of my blog, Hollywood's World of Sports.
My best advice is to never give up on your goals and dreams despite having CHD. If you put your heart and mind to anything it can be accomplished. Also, we need more guys sharing their stories and being open about how CHD affects them.
Make sure to check out my article about Prepping for the Stress Test!
Twitter - HWoodWorldSport
Instagram - hollywoodsworldofsports
Website - http://www.hollywoodsworldofsports.com/