Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service on the episode today, we have John Petrelli. John, welcome. Thank you, Thomas. Thank you for having me, buddy. I am very happy to have you. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Sure. Uh I’ve been a fitness trainer for the last 30 years. Um I work with all walks of life from, I’ve worked, worked, worked with. Sometimes I could talk, sometimes I can’t work with Hollywood celebrities and Grammy Award winning artists to moms and dads to athletes and uh really found my passion over 30 years ago through a lot of trial and tribulation through getting a rest through having anger as a youth and finding a new path in life where earlier I was so selfish about what my needs were and what I needed to make me hold to really helping other people and found that I received much more in giving and helping them on their journey than I was ever uh ever thought was possible.
So that’s a little snippet of who I am in my intro. Well, thank you for the introduction. Um, I do like speaking to fitness people because I think there’s a lot, a lot of, uh, overlap between fitness and achievement. A lot of those principles cross over quite nicely. Um, but I also, uh, wanted to ask you about you had some adversity, uh, with GB si, I haven’t said the full pronunciation because I’m not entirely sure I would say it correctly, but I, I would love to um to start with uh your story and how, you know how that went for you and kind of how you dealt with the adversity. Sure, that’s a great question. So, uh G BS or I had never heard of it. It is also called Guillain Barre Syndrome and I also heard it called Julian Barr. Uh the last physician I was dealing with a neurologist called it Guillain Barre Syndrome. So that’s what we’ll go with. Um happened in two. Got it right. It’s, it’s OK. I still screw it up. So that happened in 2021 and I was paralyzed.
I was fully paralyzed, could only move my eyeballs. I was in IC U for 10 days. But what I like to tell people is I had an epiphany being paralyzed in 2021 that I actually was paralyzed much earlier in life in my mentality that led me into finding about my self, becoming a trainer, working with people and well being and health and wellness. When I was 18. Uh, in my mentality, we can get into it later or now. But I ended up getting arrested, uh, for violence. I was living a life of fear. I was living a life of anger. I was living a life that led to violence because I didn’t have, I was at whole with myself. I didn’t have the self-confidence. I didn’t have different things in my life that led me down that path. And I was like mentally and physically paralyzed. Um But dealing with that at 18, getting incarcerated, going through the judicial system, doing all that in turn, I found later helped prepare me, even though it was some of the worst moments of my life. It helped prepare me for things that were coming down the line that if I hadn’t had adversity in my life, if I hadn’t had challenges, if I didn’t make have failures and make mistakes, I may never have been able to handle the fact that I became physically paralyzed, I wouldn’t have had the mental capacity.
I wouldn’t have had the fortitude, the threat of who I am as a human being would have been different. So I want people to understand as you hear this story. My life is not perfect. Nobody’s life is perfect. One moment doesn’t define who you are and we can move past the shame you can accomplish anything or really do anything. If you’re willing to work at it and take account for the things you’ve done that are wrong, take responsibility for them and move forward. And so those things that I did earlier in my life really prepared me for overcoming. What was the biggest obstacle in my life in 2021 being paralyzed? Did you get to the, the cause of why you, you felt violent? And then also you felt uh figuratively paralyzed at, at that time, 100% you know, it took a lot of years of introspect, it took a lot of years of working on myself. And number one just being, being brave enough with myself to verbalize things because I think maybe sometimes Thomas as men, I don’t wanna pigeonhole because we’re all different.
We’re all individuals. But sometimes as men, emotions like sadness uh can be seen as weakness of caring, can be seen as weakness. And I didn’t have the fortitude in me at that age to, to even verbalize those things. But it goes way back to my childhood. And what I say here, I want people to understand is I take full accountability for everything I did. Uh If I say that like in this story, there are certain attributes my dad had and he’s not responsible for what I did. Um So I take full accountability. Uh My peer group also wasn’t great for me, but it is because I didn’t have the awareness. I didn’t have the strength. I didn’t have all the things needed to go on my own path. So I kind of fell within the crowd. So I take full responsibility for everything I did and we only have the tools that we have at the time in that moment. So my father was born in 1921. He grew up during the depression, his family, his dad had another family on the side that they didn’t know about till he was a teenager.
And so he didn’t really have a father once he found that out. And he had a lot of anger with that. And my dad went into the military at 18 years old and he served in World War Two, he served in Korea and then he served in Vietnam. And so his life for 30 years was warfare, was trying to stay alive, was in combat. And he didn’t have the comfort ability to express that to me when he was a man and I was his child. I just knew that he had issues and the word ptsd was never even used back then. My dad would wake up in night terrors and screaming and, you know, it wasn’t really talked about. I didn’t know what was going on as a child in the military. Showing weakness can definitely be seen as a liability, right? Showing vulnerability. So we never had those discussions. But I always felt that my dad had a certain amount of anger. I wasn’t able to have conversations with him. Uh, he was a general and I was private first class and I’ve never worked past that. Like I never was able to put my input in. And like I said, it’s not, he did the best he had with the circumstances he had.
Right. And if he could have done better, he would have done better. He was a great provider in so many ways. He loved me in so many different ways. But that’s the way emotionally he could help me. I never heard my dad call me son until I was 21 years old and I never heard him say I love you until I was 21 years old and he moved away. So I yearn for that affirmation. I yearned for that connection and I had a tremendous amount of fear as a child of always doing things wrong. Uh I wasn’t great academically in school. I had, uh I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I never did well with my grades and that built anger and frustration. I was never good enough. Um My, my mom, God bless her, Thomas. My mom is 4 ft 11 of Italian. She, both of my parents were born in Italy. If you come to my house, she is loving and caring. She saved my life. If you stop by my house from the UK, on the way through, you’re gonna gain about £11 in a half hour because she’s gonna cook for you. She’s gonna shower you with love and she helped bring a lot of balance and to my life.
But as I started progressing and getting into manhood, I had this fear trapped inside of me. I was always going to do something wrong. I was never good enough. I had anger because I could never communicate fully. And that anger ended up manifesting itself in my case, in violence. And so I got in a lot of altercations in the street got beat up, beat people up all of it wrong. And I had literally just graduated high school. And I know teachers passed me because they didn’t want to see me anymore because my grades were so bad. I know they literally passed me through school. Some of them just for that. And it was the last night where our friends are all getting together uh, before we’re supposed to go off to college, I had one college that would accept me as a community college. They can’t deny you. My future was not that bright, but I was going to college. There was this big event called Fireworks over Utica. It’s in upstate New York and there was a lot of craziness going on. And if I replayed in my head, there was, there was violence going on. I saw a couple fights where people were getting beat up, the mob was attacking them and I didn’t have inside my soul.
I wanted to help that individual. I didn’t want to be part of the crowd, but I didn’t have the self-confidence to say, what are we doing here? You guys are hurting an individual. So I went along with what the momentum was of the crowd and saw that and didn’t do anything about it. Well, on my way back to our car, um we ended up getting into an altercation with two individuals that had just gotten out of jail and a this big fight ends up ensuing. And at 18, I made a split second decision and I kicked someone in the face and that person went down and they cracked their skull open on the back of a curb. And for a moment, I was proud of myself. It’s shameful to say, but I was proud of myself and all my friends gave me adulation and then let out like a primal scream of like, ah when I struck this individual, all this anger coming out hate. And as I sat there and I saw that this person may be dead, that all was fleeting.
They always leaving me. And I had realizations of like, what am I doing? And a lot of it at that time, Thomas was selfish. Like, did I just kill someone? What’s gonna happen to me? What is my life gonna be like? Now I’ve always felt for the last 56 years that I was gonna end up dead or in jail. And so in this melee of this crowd, someone grabs me from behind and I go to confront that individual because there was two of them and I think it’s this other person’s which turns out to be his brother. We found out later and it wasn’t, it was an undercover police officer and that police officer was slapping a handcuff on my wrist and I turned to confront him and it doesn’t go over well, when you try to strike a police officer. So I get slammed to the ground. I get handcuffs put on me. My ears are ringing and, and this all happens literally in 10 to 15 seconds. And here I am at 18 years old, finally graduate high school trying to do something to go to college and I’m laying on the ground may have killed somebody and now striking a police officer trying to strike a police officer in my future.
You know what my thoughts were at the time, Thomas were surrounded by violence were surrounded by the fact that I was never good enough that I was gonna end up in jail that I belonged in jail. And now my thoughts were coming to reality and here I am put in the back of a police car. I watch as they try to revive this individual and they’re unsuccessful. And then the fire department comes and they’re unsuccessful and I see blood on the ground and I see what I find out after to be this person’s brother getting arrested because he’s trying to help his brother and he’s going crazy. And then an ambulance comes and once again, shamefully, I’m thinking about what is gonna happen in my life. I know that I need to change my future. I know I need something has to change in me. I know that there is goodness in me and I just got to be brave enough two live it to talk it to act it.
And so I end up getting put in jail that night, uh that individual gets revived. We end up going through the court system and everything that happens with that. And I worked my way through there and I have an epiphany that I wish I could tell you this was my rock. I wish I could tell you that was the absolute thing that changed my life. But it was the start of me having the realization that I need to change my peer group, which I’m not strong enough to even tell my friends. I’m embarrassed. I need to change my environment. I need to change my mentality. And for me, I ended up having to change my geography and I had to move away because I wasn’t a strong enough individual. And so I work my way through the court system. This individual lives. Thank God. There’s several more incidents that happened in the street with violence until it comes down to someone that is known for carrying a gun says I’m going to kill you. The next time I see you. And that was my bottom.
And that was where I couldn’t, I didn’t have many more options. And at eight, that was then at 20 years old, I had a couple $100 to my name. I made a phone call and I called a friend of mine who lived in California and I said, listen, I’m gonna end up dead or I’m gonna end up in jail. I need some help. I need to get out of the neighborhood. Can you help me? And thank God for him. Good friend of mine, Darryl Hagan offered me a hand when I didn’t have a lot of options. And he said, he said, I don’t have any room for you. But if you wanna sleep on my floor, you can sleep on my floor and I’ll be happy to have you. And, and I had a couple of 100 bucks in a duffel bag. I bought a plane ticket and at 2021 years old, I got on a plane and that’s when my parents took me to the airport. And it was long before ts a long before pride. Many of your young listeners even remember that there was no TS A and, and someone can walk you to the gate.
And my father at that moment said, he said, I love you and he called me son. And uh that was honestly really a turning point for healing my life. And uh I got on a plane and I headed to a new life and I can feel as miles were going by on that plane as I sat in that chair, that weight was being lifted from my body and that I could reidy myself because I had this identity, this bullshit identity of being man, sorry of being a tough guy. Having this identity. I had to hold up in front of people to continue this vicious cycle of who I thought they wanted me to be who I got.
What I got affirmation from, from being a tough guy and I could leave that. And I started at 21 years old and moved to California, lived on the floor, ate cans of tuna fish and whatever I could scrape together. Did crazy meaning jobs like, uh, I’ve done every job in the world before I was a trainer, but I was cutting lawns and delivering stuff and been a bouncer and while I saved money to take a test to be a trainer. And, um, you know, that’s was a change in my life. And your simple question to my long answer to your simple question, brother was, do you know what created this anger? So, yes, I do for many years. I didn’t for many years. I felt such shame about it that I can never be my authentic self and tell people of my history. But I’ve come to realize that we all make mistakes and I hope people don’t make the mistakes I’ve made or can have, they can see the same traits maybe in them to a different degree and understand that they can change things and they can lose the shame and they can work towards a different future and they can use those events in their life to help other people have that realization because as human beings, we share, share so much in common and uh that was my journey through anger and violence and hate and kinda got me to where I am now.
Well, thank you very much for sharing it. And um you mentioned the term authentic. I was gonna say thank you for being authentic and transparent about everything that you, that you were. Um the uh lots of things occur to me in terms of the what I want to follow up with. Um The first thing is, do you feel like you’ve forgiven yourself for all what you just shared? Maybe I’m wrong. It seems like that’s hit you more, it’s hit you harder more than G Bs did. Um Is that fair to say? Yeah, it’s fair to say I and I have forgiven myself to a degree and I know that the things like look at, we’ll get into it. I wrote a book. None of these stories would be in that book if that didn’t happen to me. And people have read my book in prison and reached out to me and said, man, I headed down that same path and now, instead of I was just looking forward to getting out in the next three years.
But now I’m putting together a plan to change my life before I get out. So if I didn’t have these events and I can’t go back in time and take it away, I can’t go back and take away the pain and the bad things I did. So I have to own it. So yes, I’ve given myself some grace to a degree, but I also do feel some guilt and replace shame, maybe guilt. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but I have to use it for good. I have to turn it around. I can only look forward and I can deal with what’s presently in front of me. I can’t go back. So what would you say that you haven’t forgiven yourself for the act, the physical act of striking someone and doing it over many times over? So, and just talking to you right now, brother is help healing, right? Because I hope that maybe just one person, just one person that may hear this conversation, even though a lot of it right now it is a one sided conversation, um will hear this and and get some relief and release some shame.
So I think it’s just a physical act, you know, of what I did in being powerless to go back to change it. But understanding it’s powerful to go ahead and use it. Taking the best thing you can from any experience, whether it’s good or bad. I think there’s a great principle and you’ve obviously got that down. But I would suggest forgiving yourself all the way because that person was there voluntarily also. I’m, I’m assuming you didn’t just go and attack them unprovoked, kind of feel like it’s kind of unlucky for that to happen. Um And then if, if there are loads of examples where people haven’t been unlucky, I would, I would say you kind of deserve forgiveness, but I don’t know what you think of that. I thank you for that. And you know, part of my process right now, someone had brought, brought up to me recently is, and I think this will help with my process as an individual as I’m looking to find the person that was on the other side of the table of this at that when this happened. And I want to, whether they accept it or not, I wanna offer an apology.
I wanna maybe have a conversation, whatever the level of comfort ability is and uh let them know how I feel and if there’s anything I can do to help them in this time, because look, I, I had a certain amount of challenges as a youth or trauma or however we wanna label it. But the little research I did about these individuals, they had more reason to act out than I did. They dealt with different types of violence, drug addiction in the household and all that. So, yeah, man, I’m working on this. My life is a continual process. Um I’m trying to get better every day and part of that is just continually healing this and people like you offering a platform where I can verbalize this and hopefully help other people. Yeah, I’m so grateful for it because otherwise stories like this just sit internally and fester. And so I’m so grateful for you and I have gratitude and I thank you for allowing me to share that because I don’t know what degree but a little bit of degree of pain just leaked out.
Well, that’s good. Well, it’s, it’s definitely worth having the conversation. Then if that person is, uh let’s say genuine and uh a good person to speak to, they will probably have the uh opinion, I’m guessing, you know, they say don’t worry about it. You know, I was just as, just as bad as you, but I, I kind of won you, you won the fight and I didn’t kind of thing, but I can say that I’ve been on the receiving end of in, in the same way that you have. Uh I’ve been in fights where I’ve won and then also I’ve lost and I’ve been on the receiving end of a bar stool which um over the head where uh I got, I had to get stitches for and um, I don’t, I, it doesn’t carry with me at all. Like I don’t think of that person, uh with any animosity and if at any point, that person, I felt remorse and tried to get a hold of me and I’d, I’d be the same, I’d be like, don’t worry about it, you know, it’s not, it’s not, not a big deal to me. So, and I think you would deserve that kind of uh response as well.
Well, I thank you for that buddy. I thank you for that. I did not know I was going to mention that in this conversation. The last thing I’m glad you did. You never know where it takes you. Um So that was where I was paralyzed in my life. I did a lot of work on myself. I had an insane journey from just becoming a trainer of helping people and healing my soul as I was helping them. I had no idea that would happen to getting to work through Hollywood and going on international tours and all this crazy stuff and then to being paralyzed in 2021. And so I can bring you through that little bit of a journey. So in 2021 I ended up getting COVID, my kids got it. I’m teaching jiu jitsu and I’m around 20 kids at a time. And so it’s being passed around my kids. I have two wonderful boys that are 12 and nine. They got it and it was like a blip on the radar screen. They barely had sniffles and they were done with it. My wife got it and it was kind of the same for her and then I got it and at that time, if we remember we had to quarantine, so I couldn’t do work or anything.
And I’m a bit of a maniac Thomas where I’m always, I’m trying to work towards balance, but I’m always like type a doing something. So here I have COVID and I’m doing the assault bike for an hour. I’m creating family projects that don’t even, I’m building fireplaces and doing concrete stuff that doesn’t even need to be done. And I’ve run myself into the ground. And the reason I bring that up is because the doctors don’t know where G BS came from. It could have come from COVID. It can, it can come from a vaccination and it also can come from a bacterial infection. Those are the top three they told me. So I had a bacterial infection the month before I had someone’s toenail and jiu-jitsu just happened to cut my shin and I got cellulitis and I had a bacterial infection. So I have all these things that could have created it. But after I got through COVID, my feet were went numb and I couldn’t feel my toes or my feet. And I didn’t say anything to anybody once again, probably bullshit machismo about not expressing what’s going on and whatnot.
We’re gonna work our way through this. So my feet go numb for about a week and I don’t say anything. I go back to work, working long hours and then my hands start going numb where I can’t feel my fingers and I play that off for as long as I can. And then I wake up one morning to go to work and my vision is super blurry and I can, I do not have a urinary stream anymore like I wanna pee but I can’t pee. So my wife gets up and I tell her these things and God bless my wife Cheyenne. She is the yin to my yang. She balances me out. So I tell her, I said baby, I have about 10 clients today. Then I’ll be home and maybe we should go see a doctor. So she goes, no, we’re gonna cancel your day of work. You can’t feel your feet, you can’t pee you’re having trouble seeing and we’re going to the doctor now. Thank God. So we go to urgent care and at this urgent care, they start doing some simple tests on me and I think I go unconscious. I don’t, I’m not known for going unconscious. I’m not squeamish if someone takes blood and all this.
So they were, they bring me back a wake back up and they’re giving me tests and the doctor comes to me and says, look at of potentially having an autoimmune disorder, either MS, multiple sclerosis or G BS. That’s the first time I’d ever heard of G BS. He goes, we do not have the ability to test for that here. You need to get a spinal tap. They’re gonna draw fluid from your spine and they’re gonna look for a certain protein. The hospital down the street has the ability I’m gonna call emergency. We’re gonna get you down there and we want you to take this test. So as he, as I’m in the urgent care, the way I describe it, Thomas is like my body is like a battery that’s just getting drained. I’m now having trouble standing up. I can’t shake hands. My reflex. You know, when they hit your knee with a hammer to see if you have reflex, it’s gone. I have no reflex. I can’t feel it. And now the numbness is a ascended up to about my knees. So we go to the emergency room. They, they bring me in, they give me a spinal tap. Uh they draw the fluid out of my spine and they tell me uh it takes maybe an hour or so for us to get the test results back.
I live a mile from the hospital. They said you can go home and relax there if you’re more comfortable or you can stay here. But if you decide to go home and this starts ascending up your body, you need to come back in immediately because if you have GB SS, it will shut your lungs and your heart down just like it has your shins your feet and if your lungs and heart shut down, it’s over. So I go home, I’m exhausted. I take a 20 minute nap. When I wake up 20 minutes later, I cannot feel from my waist down. My legs are not working. I can’t stand. My wife has to help me to stand here. I am this physical guy that’s working out seven days a week does jiu-jitsu boxing all this stuff so defined by my physicality and in less than 24 hours now, I can’t even really walk. So my wife puts me in the car, we go back to the emergency room and the test comes back that I’m positive for Guillain Barre syndrome. They put me in a wheelchair and they wheel me up. They don’t wheel me up, they bring me in the elevator and they wheel me up, put me in the, to the third floor to the IC U.
Now, I have no idea what G BS is only what they’re telling me. I’ve done no research on that. We get to the IC U and there are people in different states of dis disarray in the IC U. There’s people I know are not gonna make it elderly people that have been in car accidents, this persons on a respirator and I make some definitive decisions in this time of uncertainty and go, I’m never gonna complain. I’m never gonna go woe is me. I’m not gonna say why is this happening to me? I’m never gonna complain at all. I don’t know what the hell this thing is, but I’m gonna get out of here. I have a family that needs me. I have boys that need a father. I have a wife that needs a husband and I am going to find a way out of here. So they wheel me into the IC U and I get to a point where I can only move my eyeballs at a certain point and they’re coming in to give me tests and it’s so humbling to be someone that really is just such a physical being to lose all of that and not be able to shake hands, not be able to raise my head to see who’s coming in my room.
But as I alluded to earlier, if I hadn’t gone through so many things in my life, if I hadn’t gone through getting arrested, if I hadn’t gone through sleeping on floors, if I hadn’t had a to look down the barrel of a gun, if I hadn’t almost died in the ocean in Alaska, all these things that happened in my life, I probably wouldn’t have had the fabric of who I needed to be to get out of the hospital. And so in there, there are things I did that helped me. I love doctors. I love nurses. I love our caregivers and I don’t discount Western medicine, but I made some definitive decisions to do certain things that help me. I said I wanna fill my life with positive vibrations. I don’t want to hear the beeping of the heart monitor. I don’t want to hear the moans and cries of people in the IC U. So for me, one of my former clients and dear friend of 20 years is Ziggy Marley. Bob Marley’s first son, I played Bob Marley and Ziggy 24 7 on.
So I had positive vibrations in my room to keep my mind occupied. That was number one. Number two is when I had to eat pureed food because I could no longer swallow. And my wife took a look at what they were serving and I feel sorry for our caregivers. I feel sorry for our patients because my choices was either like a hot dog and French fries or chicken fingers and something that looked like it was under a heat lamp for two weeks. So I wasn’t gonna get any nourishment on a cellular level from that stuff. So my wife went home and pureed organic vegetables. She made me soup and, and brought me healthy nutrition. So I would have positive vibrations and music. I had cellular help come to nourish my body to help fight off what was going on and then whether it helped or not. It helped me. People can have their own opinion. But I prayed I gave gratitude and I started commanding myself and my body to heal itself. First, kindly asking, politely asking and then demanding that my body start healing itself.
If it did nothing more than occupy my mind space from going into a negative place. It helped me. So I did that 24 7. And there were points where I could only move the top digit of my finger. I didn’t focus on what I didn’t have that I couldn’t sit up. I didn’t focus that I couldn’t make a fist. I focused on, I can only move this frigging right finger right here and I’m gonna keep moving it until I can move it a little bit more. And then I’m gonna try on my next finger. I’m gonna try my toes. And so I continually focus on what I could do as opposed to what I didn’t have anymore. And man, when I lost my physicality, I relied on my mentality. It made me mentally stronger. I had to rely on that to get me through. My physical being was gone when I lost my dignity and I was in the hospital and I soiled myself because I couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom and they had to run a catheter in me and I code it out when they put me, they put me in an MRI and uh the code is going out for every doctor to come and help me and my wife hears that and she’s freaking out.
It taught me about humility that I’m more compassionate. Now, when I hear about the trials that people are going through because you don’t know what people go through. And when I had to deal with all these insecurities, when they had to put me in a wheelchair and, and shower me in my own feces because I couldn’t get up. And I dealt with all my insecurities. I lost my faith for a while and it strengthened my spirituality, it strengthened that part of me. So I saw it in hindsight. When I was one door was closing, there was another door for me to open and, and explore and become veteran. And the reason I want people to understand this is because man, I feel like if I can do this, someone that’s been arrested, someone that has dyslexia, someone brother, I spell so bad that when I type something, spell check is like, we don’t have a clue of what you’re trying to do here.
We have no suggestions for you, man. If I can do this, I wrote a book from this. I got aspired to write a book. I never have written anything. Imagine what other people can do. Imagine what you can do. We are not tapping into our potential. If you wanna be a doctor, you wanna be a podcaster, you wanna be an attorney. You would wanna be a great father or a wife. There is so much that we can do that. We leave on the table. And unfortunately, for me, at that point in my life, I needed to reach my bottom and get arrested to change my life. I needed to get paralyzed to find these things out. But going forward, I know, man, there’s so much more I can do. There’s so many more people I can help. There’s so many people I can inspire to so many people that I can put a reaching hand out to and have humility and compassion. So after 10 days, bro, I got out of the hospital, they wheelchaired me out. And for seven days a week, I did therapy and I never stopped. There were times where I could only move my hand.
There were times where I wanted to walk to the couch and I collapsed and had to get back up. But I graduated from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane and I never complained and I kept going until I could get back to full functionality and be sobbing like a little baby on your podcast right now. Um But that was my journey, took me three months to do it, but I just is consistent every day in doing it. And uh that’s the longest I’ve ever gone without taking a breath and talking. I’m glad you could be part of that. I’m sorry. You could be part of that too. No, sorry is necessary. And it’s one of the most inspiring stories I think I’ve ever heard in, in talking to people. So thank you very much uh that for whatever reason this occurs to me of all the things that you did in order to recover. So you listed up a bunch of stuff which was, which was great and it made me think that you were doing absolutely everything that you could. So what is available to me? I’m gonna do do it all. Is there anything that you think made the biggest difference?
Have you thought about what, what was it that, you know, made the difference to get you healing, get you healthy? Any thoughts there? Yeah, I do have a thought there. So all these things that I did, the techniques that I use that I just did on the fly, right? Whether it was the music, the nutrition, everything, it was all driven by the love for my family, the love for my family and what they mean to me. And it was driven by the fact that maybe my dad and I should have had a better relationship and not wanting to be there for my kids relationship and I wanted to be there for my wife. So I focused on what they meant to me to help me get through sitting in my own feces to help me get through the fact they had to run a tube up me if so I can because I can no longer pee and it was all worth it to get me out of there. And it was just something I had to go through to get back to where I wanted to be, which was with them. And so that is my driving force.
Your why if you want to call it a why can be whatever it is, it can be whatever it is. But if it’s strong, it will take you through the toughest times, it will help you through when things are challenging because adversity is gonna come to all of us. It is going to come in some facet, someone’s gonna pass away. There’s a car accident, it’s what we do when adversity happens. What is your driving force for me? My driving force hugely now is to help people to help them achieve their greatness, to help them through a tough time. So the reason I get up at four o’clock in the morning now and do things or whatever it is or stay up late to educate myself is because that’s my why and that’s what took me through, bro. Did you ever have those thoughts of fear? And you know, maybe I’m not gonna make it through this and, and how did you cope with that? Have fear in my life still? I do what, what fear my kids gonna get hurt fear. Something may happen to my wife with her. But I have to say, as I go back and this isn’t machismo didn’t allow really if it came into my mind.
It was so fleeting because I was filling my mind with so many other things. I was keeping my, even though my body couldn’t be active, I was keeping my mind trying to make my body active. Like just to squeeze my hand and thinking about different things. I use my voice and asked my caregivers, my nurses and stuff. What’s going on with your life? How are you? Do you have kids? I was learning about them. So I try not to let it creep in. Can’t say it never did. But I don’t remember any moments right now. That was beyond a split second that it may have come in because as soon as I caught myself, I was putting it out there somewhere else. So I’ve had plenty of fears in my life. But I can say in that stretch, I never doubted myself that I was gonna get out. I just didn’t give myself another thought or another option and some of it was subconscious with the music, right? It’s hard. Like if you fill the room with happy music, it’s hard to be in a bad mood, right? If you fill the room with negative people or that are just complaining or whatever, it’s hard to be happy, you have to work towards it.
So I had put myself in a state where I had to work to be fearful. If I wanted to be fearful, I had to work to be unhappy. I was like, man, I don’t want to swear. I was like, fuck this. I am getting the hell out of here. And if I’m not mistaken, it is a, um, it is something that doctors speak about in, in the IC U. It’s like there, there is an element of someone either is willing to fight for it or not. And if they’re not willing to fight for it, then, you know, there, there is, I, I don’t know if it can be proved necessarily, but I think it is something that, that comes up partially. I don’t know whether to ask about this or not. Cos it’s like a, a rollercoaster ride. But you said that you, um, you almost died in the ocean. Is that, that is true. And that was a huge epiphany for me. Yeah. So I’m an avid fisherman and I’ve made several trips to Alaska and man, I’m a nut when it comes to things. If people don’t know that yet. Like I go all in, man. If I like you and you’re my friend, I will take a bullet for you.
I will do whatever it takes if I’m all in and I, I’m, I’m playing soccer, I’m all in on soccer 100% or I won’t do it. So when it comes to fishing, people have labeled me as a little bit crazy. These are my dear friends. It’s ok. Like we go to Alaska, it’s laid out for 21 hours. So I’m gonna fish for 20 hours because when it’s done it’s done, I gotta wait another year to go back. So we go fishing all day long, like 1012 hours and then we come back on our own boat and they cook for us and everything and my buddies who I adore and I love, they’re drinking and having fun. I’m like, I’m not gonna sit here and drink alcohol and, and BS about other stuff when I could be fishing. So I’m going out fishing so against their wishes, it’s like 10 o’clock at night. I think it’s barely light out still. I take this small 16 ft skiff out and, um, I make some absolute errors and I don’t bring my, my radio ship to shore radio and as I’m getting out there, the waves start getting bigger and now I’m out there far enough where I can’t see any inhabitants, there’s land, but there’s like no one around, no boats that can come and save me.
And I, this is huge man. We have this fight or flight mentality and either through conditioning or through my genetics. I have this thing where the, the prior to a confrontation where fear sits in, I immediately go to the fight thing I go towards it. Maybe it’s what makes firemen great, whatever it’s served me in my life and it’s also served me wrong. But when I feel that the uncomfortability of the butterflies in my stomach are worse than just dealing with what is in front of me. Now, other people may feel make an intelligent move and turn around and go. You know what? There’s high waves, I’m by myself. It’s gonna be dark here in a minute. Let’s, uh, let’s turn the boat around. Dom cough over here it goes. My head starts going. What is gonna happen? If I turn this tiller, it’s a boat tiller. If I turn it too hard, what hap was gonna happen? What can happen? What could possibly happen? And I feel fear. And so what I have to do is I have to turn the boat tiller as hard as I can to see what’s gonna happen. Well, let me tell you what happens.
The centrifugal force of the wave of my boat going sideways, shot me out of that boat like a rocket. And before I could even have whereabouts I’m in the ocean. And thank God I had my life vest on and I’m in freezing water. There’s only about a half hour light left now. Good and bad thing is I had the tiller turned full throttle. I’m going as fast as I can and I had it turned as far as it would go to the right. So as I’m getting my bearings, I’m in the ocean, I’m like, holy shit. What’s going on? I’m in the ocean. The water is cold. I’m spitting up saltwater. All of a sudden I hear something and I’m trying to put together what I’m hearing. It’s the motor of my boat that is now doing a 360 degree circle headed for my head and it’s coming right at me. I have a couple seconds barely to react. Now, the thing that’s saving me, the life vest is keeping me on the top right in alignment for the bow of my boat in the motor. And so I have to take a huge breath, try to go underneath the water. By the way, do here also had heaters on hip waders that are filling up with water.
You should never wear that on a boat out in the ocean. So now they’re helping me actually sink. The life vest is holding me up and I have to push underneath the water and I see the prop wash go right over my head in the propeller of the boat go inches from my face. I come back to shore. I spit not shore surface. I spit salt water out. I’m trying to process everything. The thing that almost killed me now is a thing that can potentially save me if I don’t catch this boat. I am dead because I’m out at sea. It’s getting dark. So the boat is making another pass by, it’s doing 100 360 degree turn. I try to time it. I get to the surface. Now, I gotta navigate, grabbing the gunny well, and not getting pulled into the propeller. So I have to navigate, getting close to where this boat’s getting, not getting knocked out. Because if it hits me in the head, I’m fish food. It’s all over. I’m gonna be unconscious floating at sea. So it comes by, I do my best to grab it. I grabbed the gunny wheel. I can’t hold on. My hands are going numb. The boat keeps going. I let go. So I cut off one of my waders.
I have a knife. I don’t even know how I got the whereabouts to do this. I don’t, I know after that I cut my waiter off and I had put my knife back in the sheet. I pull it off. I cut one of my waders off my hip. Waiter, the boat comes by, I grab the gunny. Well, I’m now getting pulled horizontal in my feet, which only has a sock on it now is getting pulled into the propeller and I pull up, I get myself up onto the gunny wall of the boat, the side wall of the boat, I flop into the boat collapse and I’m able to pull the kill switch on the boat and stop the engine. And here I am in the middle of Alaskan waters. 11 o’clock at night. Freezing, trying to figure out what the hell I did realizing I have a son at that point that is waiting for me home. I have a wife. It’s no longer me. It’s no longer just my selfish needs. And I make a truce brother with anger and fear. And I say you’re no longer gonna control me as I’m laying there at the bottom of that aluminum boat.
And my heightened senses are like I can hear the water underneath me just banging up against the boat. I can hear the wind. It’s starting to get dark. There’s stars in the sky and I make a promise to myself that I will no longer be selfish and I will act accordingly in fear that it is no longer gonna control me that in this fight or flight moment. I’m gonna make the right decisions that if I have to go into the fight, it’s to help people. It’s necessary not to prove to myself anymore that I can handle this. And I thank God I had a change of clothes in a dry bag and I talk about this in my book. One thing I’m grateful for, for guys is like my wife will go to the beauty salon, come back and I will unfortunately not realize she got her hair done and she’s like you ain’t gonna say anything about my hair. Well, I get back to shore. I have to change because I’m embarrassed. I don’t want to tell my friends that are waiting on shore. As I come back, I change my clothes, my hats gone.
I got one waiter, hip waiter. Now I’m wearing a whole different thing. And thank God for Jack Daniels and thank God for guys not realizing and, and noticing every detail because my friends have no clue that I’ve changed all my clothes that I’m missing a wear. And I don’t even tell them this story because I’m so embarrassed until I write my book and the stories in the book and I send them a free copy and I go, you guys might want to look at the chapter called Alaskan Waters and they were all like, I cannot believe you did that. But yeah, that’s my, how I almost died in Alaska and was really a pivotal moment in my life where I came to a truce with fear and anger and said, I don’t have to prove anything. I’ll put my life on the line to save someone to help someone, but I don’t need to prove anything to my ego anymore about what I’m capable of. Well, the book sounds really interesting. Um For those that are listening, can you share a little bit about it and also where they can grab a coffee?
So once again, I want people to know that if I can do this, I can do a number one Amazon new release without having any experience without being able to type with having dyslexia. You can do anything, whatever you’re listening to right now and you have a dream inside of you. You have something deep down that you want. I believe you can do more. Do you believe you can do more? I hope you believe you can do more because you can. So in the process of healing and being out of work, there’s a whole story behind it. I had a great editor and who became a co-author Scott Burr. We put together stories in my life and I put them in a book. It’s called Confessions of a Hollywood trainer. And it’s all my trials and what I’ve learned. And the blessing is I have had people with G BS read the book or peoples whose family members had G BS read the book and go, can you talk to my aunt in Connecticut? She’s 70 years old. She just got diagnosed with G BS. She just needs someone that can relate, can give her some tips. And it has been an absolute blessing to be in this world of G BS survivors that I would have never been in.
And so that thing that paralyzed me has brought me full of life. It has brought me full of new tools that I can help people. And that is all in my book. And the book is just a little memento that we can do anything Thomas. And um it’s called Confessions of a Hollywood trainer. You can find it on Amazon, it’s on audible. The audio book has an extra three hours of content. Uh It’s like a podcast style and then uh that’s, and you could find me on John dot John Petrelli on Instagram or on Facebook. And I know I am so I don’t want to use the word. Sorry, I know I’ve dominated so much of this airwave and you’ve been so gracious in just hosting me and listening and I’m so thankful, but I wrote something down that you had brought up so intelligently earlier. And can I leave with one final point? Chill? Go for it. So you had talked about, we don’t know and doctors don’t know if the things that we do in our mind necessarily help or not. And I believe I felt the same way and people may feel that way and maybe I’m wrongfully articulating what you said, but it sounded like that to me.
I want people to know this, how powerful your mind is. This is not my mumbo Jumbo. You can find this in the New England Journal of Medicine or any medical trial. They do placebo tests of medication. That is the real medication and they do a placebo that may be just sugar water or just an empty pill. And they always find that the group that has the placebo shows some benefit because they believe it’s the real medicine and they show some benefit. Will they heal the whole way? Maybe not every time, but will they show some improvement. Look it up. They do. So if we have thoughts in our head, that medicine that isn’t, there can help us, it can work in the reverse if we have negative thoughts in our head. That how, how is your life gonna be? If you have continual negative thoughts in your head, it’s not gonna turn out well, it probably won’t be to what you, your real dreams are. But also the power of our mentality. If you put positive thoughts in your head, I thought about healing my own body. I had positive vibrations.
I didn’t let my mind go to a negative place because I didn’t wanna go there. That is the power of who we are as individuals. I’m not any more powerful than anybody listening to this than anybody else. In fact, I’m probably less take it from my words, from my soul that I take absolute pleasure from hearing people achieve their dreams and their goals. And I hope someone hears something that they need to hear today to take the action that they wanna take, whether that’s giving to another charity, helping people becoming whatever you wanna become, you can do it. It’s possible. Well, you’ve been a fantastic guest. I love this conversation. Um Your stories are, you know, the part, part of the reason why I haven’t um uh talked as much is because I’ve just enjoyed listening to you. So, um you’ve been a great guest and I appreciate it uh John. Thank you very much. Thank you, my brother. Thank you.