Live right before it is too late

Who knew you could go brain dead from and die of a stroke at age 39? I didn’t, and apparently, neither did my cousin.

I seemed to have put my health on the backburner while in college. It wasn’t until my mom called and told me about my cousin that I woke up.

I didn’t know anything about my cousin’s diet or lifestyle, and I am well aware that a stroke is not a disease that only affects people 50 and above.

I’m not going to pretend I am the model of health and physical perfection. My diet today consisted of the No. 9 combo from Wendy’s and some Smarties left over from Halloween.

But I have plans for my life. I want a wife, some kids and all that good jazz that comes with life. But most importantly, I want to live long enough to see my dreams come to fruition.

And although I have little time to go to the gym, I am going to make an effort to do some minute things to improve my health.

Strokes, being trumped by heart disease and cancer, are the third highest killer of Americans, the American Stroke Association states. One out of every 15 American deaths – that is almost 157,000 people – dies because of strokes each year.

Shattering my belief that only old people die from strokes, the ASA states that high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, heart disease, poor diet, high cholesterol, obesity and laziness are some of the risk factors of strokes.

So instead of parking up close, I’ll park in the stadium. Why use the elevator when there are stairs? Even though Wendy’s might sound better, I’ll cook.

But in my crusade of awareness, I want to ask you to hold yourself accountable as well as those who lead you and me to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Do this not to merely prevent a premature stroke, but to live better and longer in general.

Find a doctor and get a physical examination. Even if you do not have health insurance, there are places in Tallahassee, such as Neighborhood Health Services, that cater to the uninsured.

In order to keep eyes and teeth working to the best of their abilities, go see an eye doctor and dentist.

For people who live on campus, ask why there are no healthy places to eat unless you want to trek down the hill to Fat Sandwich.

The next time you are in the grocery store, use the blood pressure machines the pharmacies took the time to install. And when you have down time, do something active to decrease your chances of a stroke.

I’m going to try and better myself. With hope and God’s will, I will be able to add years to my life.

Brandon D. Oliver is a senior magazine production student from Palatka. He can be reached at