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Jay Dill, Jacksonville

I am pleased to serve as the Vice-Chair of the 2017-18 American Heart Association's Alabama Advocacy Committee. I always thought I understood how fragile life was. When I would hear people talk about not taking life for granted, I automatically would think of important times in my life - like holding my son for the very first time or standing at a funeral of a relative who died earlier than expected.

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But, over the last several years my understanding of the concept has changed. Somehow, being on an emergency room bed, looking up at the bright lights on the ceiling tends to put things in perspective. Those are the types of memories that don’t fade. In fact, I remember cleaning out my pool on a rather hot afternoon right before Father’s Day weekend. I developed indigestion about halfway through the process. After finishing up, I told my family I was tired and wanted to stretch out before supper. Still, that was not unusual, I had gotten rather hot being outside in the summer heat.

A little while later, I got up and for some reason took an aspirin. I headed to the den to complain that I was not feeling any better. With one look, my wife and son threw me in the car and headed to the hospital.

A heart attack was not supposed to happen. Sure, maybe I did not exercise every day and maybe I did not eat as many fruits and vegetables as I had been told to eat; however, my cholesterol was great, I had a good BMI, and I had even learned how to manage stress better. So, why did I feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest? Some things are a blur, but I do remember trying to make jokes with the nursing staff as I laid there. The lights were so bright. “A widow maker” … “30 more minutes and he would not have made it” were comments I heard in the background. Then I remember waking up in recovery.

Well, this story has a good ending for me. The surgeon of choice was at the hospital, the hospital followed the American Heart Association guidelines, and for some reason I had taken an aspirin. Yes, my perspective of how fragile life is has changed. But my perspective of the American Heart Association has changed too. Without their continued research, their patient care guidelines and education program, my story could have ended very differently. 

So, why do I serve on the American Heart Association’s Alabama Advocacy Committee and why am I willing to talk with anyone who will listen about the great work of the organization? Life is why! 

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