She was obese as a child and her family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure. Still, Yvette Fields admits, “I didn’t make an effort to get healthy.” She even ignored the symptoms and signs of heart disease and stroke. “I cannot recall how many times I heard messages about my predisposition for a stroke or heart attack, and the things I could do to prevent one,” said Fields, 48, of South Hempstead, N.Y.
Today, Fields no longer takes her health for granted. A series of strokes in 2002 left her with a lingering weakness on her left side, a limp, constant numbness, swelling and pain in her legs and feet. She’s also an insulin-dependent diabetic and takes cholesterol and high blood pressure pills, daily. She will depend on medication for the rest of her life.
Fields said she misses climbing in and out of the bathtub by herself, wearing high-heels and enjoying amusement parks. She is reminded daily that she has yet to fulfill her dream of becoming an educator and motivator. But, Fields said, she’s blessed to be alive, to have a greater purpose: “If — by sharing the story of all I have lost and all I have gained — I become a resource of education and information, a bearer of a true cautionary tale or maybe just a little inspiration… I will be on my way to living a better life. “I have learned and now I live.”