Craigy T throws support behind 'Pledge With Your Heart' campaign
Life as a touring musician appears glamorous and comes with a busyness that is unique to the celebrated. It is usually when forced to slow down that they begin to notice things as they are.
Craigy T, formerly of international reggae/dancehall group T.O.K., came to a similar realisation that he was not as healthy as he believed. After being diagnosed with a defective heart, the artiste underwent a major lifestyle change, losing over 100 pounds in the process.
Last Thursday, the lawns across from the Medical Centre of the University of the West Indies, Mona, doubled as a heart-health clinic in recognition of World Heart Day.
TVJ, Guardian Life and the Department of Cardiology, UWI, alongside DLT Marcomms Limited, have collaborated under the Pledge With Your Heart campaign, with intent to raise eight million dollars for the purchase of a new echocardiogram machine, the same machine that prompted Craigy T to make a change that potentially saved his life.
"It was a flu that I had in Japan ... I went to the doctor and they said that you know, my heart was beating irregularly and I should check it out when I reach home," Craigy T told The Gleaner.
By the time he arrived in Jamaica, the flu had run its course and he saw no need to visit the doctor.
"I put it off three years after that. I didn't do anything. I didn't know anything serious could have been happening," he said.
While on his way to the gym, instinct, serendipity, or maybe an extremely lengthy delayed reaction, altered Craigy T's destination to the Heart Foundation, where he did an impromptu echocardiogram, "because it was inexpensive at the time".
According to the artiste, his results showed that he should have been on his way to the doctor instead of on his way to the gym.
"I was diagnosed with left ventricular hypertrophy. That's when the left side of your heart is enlarged. That's the part that's responsible for the pump," he said.
He revealed that his condition was caused by hypertension, "which was caused by my weight. So ever since then, I've taken steps to naturally reverse my weight gain."
In 2010, soon after being diagnosed, Craigy T started the Guardian Angel Foundation, "focused on how to reverse the symptoms of hypertension, so to speak; using small day-to-day steps, (changing) your lifestyle".
Since making the decision to change, Craigy T has lost 124 pounds.
"I've been off medication for about six years and my heart is beating fine," he told The Gleaner.
"Some people are afraid of changing their lifestyle," he continued, explaining that it may not have to be as difficult as training for five-mile runs.
Something as simple as gardening every day, something as simple as bussin' a sweat, doing the heavy lifting, parking farther away from the entrances, stuff like that," he told The Gleaner.
"When I see people doing things, like having ECGs made available for free, naturally, I would want to be a part of it. Any time I see initiatives like this (the Pledge With Your Heart Campaign), I'm here to help," he told The Gleaner.
"They're trying to raise $8 million to purchase an echocardiogram machine, which I believe is very important, especially for the UWI cardiology unit. It can't be operating without one of those machines, so I am imploring people to pledge with their hearts. Make a donation to the Pledge Your Heart Campaign through JMMB A/C 2958004," he implored.