ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Head Coach John Fox knew on a Charlotte golf course over the Broncos' bye week that he needed to go to the hospital.
"You’re getting ready to go down," he said of the light-headed feeling that nearly caused him to faint. "I don’t know if you’ve ever passed out before, but you feel it overcoming you and basically you get tunnel vision and are just trying to fight it off."
In the meantime, he chipped onto the green and putted the ball in. But he knew something was wrong.
"(I) really just had to sit on the ground and actually lay on the ground," Fox said. "I never really passed out, but just fighting that feeling of passing out. I just hit two golf shots in the middle of it.”
The episode had to do with a heart problem Fox first became aware of more than 15 years ago.
In 1997, his doctors discovered a heart murmur, the cause of which was his bicuspid aortic valve.
Since then, the valve had been closely monitored through regular checkups. Last year, doctors noticed changes.
"It was progressively getting worse a year ago," Fox said. "They thought it would last another year. Obviously I didn't make it quite to that point. Then it's not something you fool with. You don't remember much after that incident (on the golf course), so it's not something you want to mess with."
When he was taken to the hospital that Saturday morning, doctors ran a CT scan and noted that the valve was almost completely closed.
"I was receiving very little blood to my body," Fox explained. "It’s one of those things that it could just happen quickly.”
He went into surgery the following Monday morning for an aortic heart valve replacement.
"With heart surgery, they basically hit you with a truck pretty fast. So you have to heal," he said. "They open up the chest cavity, they perform surgery on your heart, (then) they put you all back together. They have to monitor things. The scariest part was the four days I was in the hospital."
He was released last Friday, and said he's been "feeling better every day."
When he made a call to the Denver media Tuesday afternoon, Fox said he was "sitting here relaxing, to be real honest with you."
But he couldn't help himself and was set to watch the coaches' tape of Sunday's Broncos win against the Chargers.
He watched the win on television Sunday and laughed that there were tense moments in the game that he had to stop watching.
"I knew that wasn't the best thing for me at that moment," he said.
As for when he'll be able to return to the sideline, Fox said he would prefer not to put a timeframe on his recovery. But he said he's been in touch with Dove Valley on a daily basis, joking that it's helped in his recovery because he doesn't get too bored.
He said he has great confidence in Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio and the rest of the staff in the meantime, and he's looking forward to when he can return to coaching.
"My goal and dream is to be there, obviously, before the conclusion of this season," he said.
He expects to be back in Denver before that.
"I think number one right now they're just trying to make sure that I'm OK to fly," he said. "There are some certain things they've got to be concerned with, with altitude, those types of things. They're just trying to make sure—I don't know all the technicalities. As soon as I'm able to fly and they feel good about me going through the rigors of flying, then I'll be heading back to Denver."
Most of all, Fox wanted to reach out to everyone who has sent thoughts, prayers and support his way throughout the process.
"I want to thank all of you guys for all your good wishes and good thoughts and all the fans out there (and) obviously the Broncos organization, to allow me this time to get my health back," he said.
"And that process is going very well."