Skip navigation

John’s Story

“The lawnmower didn’t run out of power, but I did.” With that assessment, John Cull summarizes how he found himself in the cardiac program at St. Mary’s.

A former teacher, John now spends his days toiling away on a large rural property just outside of Kitchener. It was there a few years ago that he found himself unable to keep up with demands of maintaining a large plot of land and ended up in the care of Dr. Claus Rinne.

Dr. Rinne is the man behind the development of our new Heart Rhythm Program. As the only cardiologist in our community specializing in the electrical physiology of the heart, he is all too aware of how many people will benefit from advanced screening and treatment. He figures that 300–400 residents of Waterloo Region require care in London each year; patients that will be able to stay close to home once our program is up and running.

John didn’t require a trip to London, but he did need a pacemaker to help keep his heart beating a little stronger. He had it inserted less than a week after seeing Dr. Rinne and immediately felt better and more energetic. The lawnmower had its horsepower back, but it was short-lived.

Having taught English for 35 years, John writes poetry every day and is a big fan of Alice Munro. From 2012 to 2014, he helped organize a writing contest in her honour in the town of Wingham in North Huron. Following her Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, the contest grew in both numbers and in stature. John admits to feeling the stress of adjudicating so many entries and recalls that moment as the time when his heart health began to fail him once again.

A short time later, he discovered he not only had a heart murmur, but required quadruple bypass surgery and a valve replacement. After Dr. Rinne patched up his heart’s electrical system, it was time for Dr. Gary Salasidis to do the same for his heart’s plumbing.

That was just six months ago. Today, John feels like a new man. He talks about the “extreme confidence” he has in the staff and physicians at St. Mary’s and offers a “heartfelt thank you” for everything they did for him.

Now a graduate of the St. Mary’s Cardiac Rehab Program, John continues to find solace on his farm with his lawnmower and a good notebook for daily poetic inspirations.