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updated: 3/12/2014 1:04 PM

Elk Grove village mayor returns to public duties after heart surgery

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  • Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson has returned to his public duties less than a month after undergoing double-bypass heart surgery.

       Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson has returned to his public duties less than a month after undergoing double-bypass heart surgery.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer


Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson is ready for a new streak.

Johnson hadn't missed a village board meeting in his 17 years as mayor until last month, when he watched the proceedings from his home on the village's municipal programming channel.

The 54-year-old stepped away to recover from double-bypass heart surgery after doctors discovered a blocked artery.

Less than a month after the procedure, Johnson returned to chair Tuesday's board meeting, thanking his supporters and joking about that 17-year run.

"By the way, does this start now my next streak?" Johnson said.

Doctors at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village performed the surgery Feb. 17.

"Three surgeons, seven doctors and countless nurses can prove in a court of law under cross examination that the mayor does have a heart," Johnson told the village attorney.

But he also got serious in an emotional start to the meeting. He acknowledged ignoring pain below his rib cage.

"If anyone learns anything it is listen to your body and don't be afraid to get checked," Johnson said. "For nine months, I avoided it."

The avid cyclist has low cholesterol and no family history of heart problems. And he regularly exercises and doesn't drink or smoke. Johnson said doctors told him he survived the blockage -- what they called the "widow-maker" -- because of that regimen.

"The only thing saving me, the doctor said, very honestly is that I do have an athletic body and I do work out and all the rest," Johnson said.

It wasn't his first health scare.

In June 2010, Johnson was severely injured in a biking accident when his front tire clipped the rear tire of another cyclist. He was thrown to the ground and struck his head on the pavement, suffering a concussion, a punctured lung, a broken collar bone and five broken ribs, among other injuries.

"God was watching over me again," Johnson said.

He said he kept in touch with the board and village staff during his adsence.

"We don't miss a beat," he said.

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