Rising to the Top: Health and Happiness

 

BY DRU DAVIS/AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION

 

Born and raised in New Bern, North Carolina, Xavier Carter enjoyed her life as any young adult would, despite her struggles of living with lupus and fibromyalgia.

Her battle to fight with her health continued at the age of 23, when she started experiencing complications in her daily routine, such as having a hard time breathing and standing for long periods of time. “I constantly felt like I was trying to catch my breath. I could barely even walk up the stairs in my house,” Xavier said.

She went from doctor to doctor, but no one could identify the exact problem. After a series of office visits, it was suggested that she use a heart monitor to better understand the issue. The heart monitor results showed a 75% blockage in one of her arteries.

Her doctor placed a stent in her heart, and for about a year she was doing great. She participated in cardiac rehabilitation therapy for 12 weeks, where she learned to eat healthy and exercise. After seeing improvement for so long, it came as a huge surprise when her health began to worsen.

“Having lupus attacks my immune system, so one stent just wasn’t enough,” she shared. Xavier needed a second stent placed in her heart and needed to return to cardiac rehabilitation therapy for an additional round.

Along with keeping up with doctor visits, multiple pill prescriptions, and a series of shots to aid any excess blockage in her arteries, Xavier began to feel like herself again. “I even began line dancing twice a week. It feels amazing to be so free!” Xavier shared.

She struggled with losing excess weight, but with words of encouragement from her loved ones, she began to feel the effects of a healthier lifestyle. “Once I started being healthier, exercising and dancing gave me so much energy and it’s fun,” shared Xavier.

Spreading health awareness holds a high importance in Xavier’s life. She encourages everyone to be aware of any signs their body may send, as it can save their life. “Make sure you know your body,” Xavier said. “Doctors are great, but you know your body best! Make an appointment, ask your doctor what symptoms could mean and if something does not feel right, go get it checked. Just say something!”

Living with these ailments is a day-to-day struggle. However, Xavier’s new and improved lifestyle skills have her feeling better than ever. “At first, it was difficult to adapt because I didn’t know what foods to eat or how to get active, but I quickly realized how factors like these play a part in keeping your heart healthy and strong,” shared Xavier. Now, she strives to drink the recommended 64 ounces of water a day, stays away from salt, and eats a balanced diet with lots of veggies. “Don’t fry foods in so much grease, it’s not good for you. For those of us who just cannot seem to put down the fries, I recommended using an air fryer to avoid all the grease,” she said.

“Every day, I thank God for letting me make it through and continue enjoying my life with the ones I love the most,” said Xavier. “They encourage me so much in everything that I do. I don’t know where I would be without them.”

Xavier Carter is a 2021 Forsyth County Go Red Woman. She is sharing her story to help prevent heart disease in women. Novant Health is proud to be the American Heart Association’s “Life is Why” and “Go Red for Women” sponsor in Forsyth County, celebrating, supporting, and encouraging women to put their health first wherever they may be in their journey.

Friday, February 4, is National Wear Red Day and the American Heart Association and Novant Health invite you to wear your red in celebration of women’s heart health. For upcoming Go Red for Women events, visit www.heart.org/Triad.

 

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