Jay Blackwell – A Year Ago
A year ago, I found myself “living the mission” in a way I never imagined.
Having begun my career at the American Heart Association in 2001, I have seen countless lives changed by our mission and work. As part of my commitment to the mission, in October 2015, I began a journey to a healthier me; I dropped my blood pressure, my waist line, and my BMI. Other than my first years of life, I might have been in the best health ever. That said, on Memorial Day weekend I had a minor heart attack while doing interval sprints at the gym. I didn’t realize that had happened as the pain passed quickly and I went on with my day. However, the next day while sitting down to dinner, the pain came back 20-fold and radiated to my jaw. I knew what was happening even though I was scared to say it out loud.
Within 24 hours, I had a stent placed, learned I had no major muscle or arterial damage and was on the road to recovery. Cardiac rehab was a gift, with my nurses and fellow survivors bonding as a family of the vulnerable yet resilient.
Now, I am in a great place and even traveled to South Africa for my 50th birthday with friends. My biggest hurdle has been the mental shock of my body letting me down. It’s taken a year to stare this down and start my workouts again, but I am excited that I’ve got four weeks behind me and a trainer who encourages and pushes me to keep moving forward.
I realize I am a lucky one. I am fortunate to have access to great hospitals with the top doctors and medical technology in the world. Here in Boston, others are not as fortunate. Currently, there is a 33-year life expectancy difference between those living in Back Bay and those in Roxbury. The weight of this inequity is my “why” and keeps me focused daily here in Boston working to ensure that all Bostonians have the same chance I did to live the healthiest life possible. After all, WE are the Commonwealth.
If you want to join Jay in leaving a lasting legacy, join My Research Legacy, an American Heart Association secure online network where users can share their genetic, lifestyle and environmental data and participate in research.