Arnold Schwarzenegger is sharing what he learned after a grueling recovery from open-heart surgery that almost killed him four years ago.
While Schwarzenegger has been a fitness fan all his life, the 76-year-old bodybuilder-turned-actor has also had to deal with health issues across the years, including a botched 2019 procedure done before shooting “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
In a YouTube video titled “Starting from Scratch: Coming Back from Heart Surgery,” the former governor of California remembered how he woke up “freaking out” after something went wrong with what was supposed to be a “noninvasive” aortic valve replacement ― his third open-heart surgery.
“I woke up and all of a sudden the doctors were in front of me saying, ‘I’m so sorry, but it was unlike what we planned,’” Schwarzenegger said. “[They said] we made a mistake and poked through the heart wall and had to open me up very quickly and to save [my] life. I was really freaking out.”
The faulty operation was a major setback for the action star who had to push through a tough physical recovery instead of training for “Terminator 6.”
“The bottom line is, you cannot roll the clock back,” he said. “It was a disaster. I was in the middle of a disaster. So now how do I get out of it? You have to shift gears. You collect yourself, shift gears and say, ‘OK, what I need to do now is I got to get out of this hospital.’”
Schwarzenegger shared footage from his time healing, including a clip where he slowly but steadily walked a hospital hall with his friends in tow.
“I called my buddies in and said, ‘You guys have to fire me up. You have to count the number of steps that I’m doing,’” he said, adding, “I looked like an idiot waddling around in the hallways, but the bottom line was I was getting going because the doctors said you have to exercise your lungs because if you get pneumonia you can die.”
Eventually, Schwarzenegger was able to get fit enough to return to the gym and start gearing up for the most recent “Terminator” film.
“I had to be in shape, I had to move around, run around, lift things up, do the fight scenes,” he explained. “And we did it because I had a positive attitude, I knew exactly how I was gonna get there, I had the support system — because none of this we can do by ourselves — and when I started shooting ‘Terminator 6’ I was all back together again.”
Schwarzenegger’s first experience with serious heart surgery was a pulmonary valve replacement in 1997. He had the procedure done again in 2018.