Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson on the mend after pacemaker surgery: ‘This is the best I’ve felt all year long’

Ken Harrelson was bummed to miss SoxFest this season, but he said he has felt revitalized since he got his pacemaker.

SHARE Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson on the mend after pacemaker surgery: ‘This is the best I’ve felt all year long’

Ken Harrelson was bummed to miss SoxFest this season, but he said he has felt revitalized since he got his pacemaker.


Former White Sox broadcaster Ken ‘‘Hawk’’ Harrelson was tired. So much so that it was hard for him to muster the energy to climb 18 stairs to sleep in his own bed.

Harrelson, an avid golfer, also hadn’t been able to play 18 holes in probably two years.

‘‘I didn’t have energy, and I didn’t know why,’’ he said.

After a series of tests, Harrelson finally got an answer for his frequent fatigue. He received a pacemaker last week after a serious fall was found to be caused by dangerously high blood pressure.

On Jan. 5, Harrelson passed out at his home in Orlando, Florida, and suffered a head injury. At around 11:45 p.m., he went to turn off his TV but stood up too quickly and became dizzy.

‘‘It was the first time in my life I ever passed out,’’ Harrelson, 78, said. ‘‘And evidently, my head hit the television stand and a sharp edge, and it put a big gash in the back of my head.’’

Harrelson needed 12 staples and remained in the hospital for three days as doctors worked to determine the cause of his high blood pressure.

‘‘My blood pressure was fluctuating up and down, and one time . . . it was 245 over 181,’’ Harrelson said. ‘‘Now that’s stroke time. . . . That’s unheard of. That’s insane. That’s, like, [Sox prospect] Luis Robert’s speed.’’

That’s when he learned he would need a pacemaker.

Harrelson called his pacemaker surgery a ‘‘nothing procedure’’ and said the five-hour operation to repair his ankle in 1970 was more invasive.

Because of the health scare, Harrelson missed an opportunity to bask in the glory of his Hall of Fame election last month at SoxFest. Doctors advised him not to fly while taking his blood-pressure medication.

Harrelson was bummed to miss the annual fan festival, but he said he has felt revitalized since his procedure. Walking upstairs to go to bed isn’t as big a problem anymore, and he has an itch to hit the links soon.

‘‘This is the best I’ve felt all year long without a question,’’ said Harrelson, who has to take it easy for another five or so weeks. ‘‘For almost 1 12, two years, I hadn’t even wanted to play [golf]. But now I’m getting to the point I want to go out. I want to play golf, hit some golf balls and start to play for some more money.’’

Just as he’s wrapping up this challenge, however, Harrelson revealed he’s facing another. He is undergoing radiation therapy for non-melanoma skin cancer found on his ear. He’s in the second of five weeks of treatment but remains in high spirits.

‘‘It’s really working,’’ said Harrelson, who receives treatment five days a week. ‘‘That radiation is killing the cancer on top of my ear [that I have] because I’ve been in the sun all my life.

‘‘I’ve always been one of those guys [that] once I know I’ve gotta do something, I just do it. It’s like getting in a fight. Once you know you’re getting into a fight, you might as well win. Not that I’ve won every one, but I’ve won most of them.

‘‘This radiation thing, hell, I go in there and they . . . lay me on the table and say, ‘OK, we’ll be back in a minute.’ And I can hear them turn the machine on, and then I get out of there. So it doesn’t hurt. But, again, it’s a mindset. And I’ve always had a high tolerance for pain.’’

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