A Story from the Heart – featuring James Young
For years, I avoided going to the doctor – I was afraid to face what may be going on with my health. After consistently forgoing regular doctor’s visits, I was gaining weight, having trouble breathing, and finding it difficult to walk and climb stairs. It became too much, and I admitted myself to the ER, where at 40 years old, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, systolic heart failure, and chronic kidney disease.
I wasn’t surprised, but rather finally facing the inevitable. I was dealing with many risk factors that contributed to my heart failure, including physical inactivity, a poor diet, and high blood pressure. My father would often say that men in our family don’t live past 70, and after several follow up doctor’s visits, my physician expressed that initially after my heart failure, she thought I wouldn’t make it. At that point, I made a promise to myself to reassess my life and break a generational curse – and become an advocate for others in my community.
I decided to become responsible for my life – I stopped eating fast foods, I quit smoking, and little by little, I became physically active. The process of lifestyle change can be difficult for many – and it was for me at times too. But I always allowed myself grace and never criticized myself for any slip ups on my health journey. I always knew there was a tomorrow to try again, and through small steps, healthy living became second nature and even enjoyable.
I have learned that I am not my diagnosis, and that chronic heart disease doesn’t have to be a death sentence. I now Live to the Beat by being a beacon of light and a proponent of possibilities for those who may find themselves in doubt when it comes to their heart health.
If you, or someone close to you, wants to share a Story from the Heart, we’d love to hear it. Please fill out this form to be considered for this series.