#heartbeard – My way of trying to fight heart disease with my beard

#heartbeard – fighting heart disease with beards!

Or, at least I’m using my beard to spread the word about #heartbeard and heart disease. I created the #heartbeard logo and hashtag about 4 years ago in an attempt to help others, and myself in a way. Heart disease is one of those diseases that can lay dormant for years and strike when you least expect it. My family got to experience that first hand when my father died at age 52 in 2008. Two days after his birthday…

We knew he had problems with his heart before, but “nothing serious”. By nothing serious I mean that he did not need a pacemaker, he was not up for transplant or heavily medicated. He was an energetic full time worker and managed a horse farm in his free time. Sure, he had been to the hospital before and got medication, but he was off most of his meds because he was “healthy”.

#heartbeard logoThen one morning he and my mother got up in the morning as usual, they went to the stables to feed the horses like usual. My mother later told me that the only thing that was “odd”, was that he felt a bit tired… but who doesn’t at 7 in the morning. After they did the morning chores they got ready for work, my father who started at 9, said he was gonna lay down for a few minutes and rest while my mother headed off to work. He fell asleep and never woke up.

That was a turning point in my life, I had been struggling with depression, social anxiety and drinking too much, and it was time for me to straighten up. Not only for myself, but also for my family, and my future (insert kids/cats/dogs/wife/etc). They years followed I worked on myself and “overcame” my social anxiety and depression. Overcame in the sense that I now have my good days and my bad days, the good days being 95% of my daily life.

But the death of my father also sparked an investigation of me and my brothers to see if we had the same kind of heart disease. The doctors insisted on testing us due to the fact that my father, grandfather and great grandfather all died suddenly in their 50’s, and we don’t have medical history further back then that. The test showed that I had heart disease… but not my brothers.

The sentence wasDilated cardiomyopathy” (<— Wikipedia link), the same as my father. The next few months and years I did numerous tests and hospital visits, I got medication and there where even talk about getting a pacemaker, but I ended up being declared healthy. Healthy? Well, I guess I am, I have never really suffered from my condition, but at the same time, my father never did either.

I have a few funny stories from my hospital visits that I will share in future blog posts, many including blood and needles…. Haha, it might not sound funny, but I promise, they are!

#heartbeard t-shirts from SpreadshirtAnyway, I’m here to talk about #heartbeard – but it needed a little bit of explaining first. #heartbeard is a pretty big deal to me, and close to my heart (pun intended) due to my and my father’s medical history. When I created #heartbeard my goal was to raise lot’s of money for the Swedish Heart & Lung Foundation, and I did. Or not a lot, but every cent counts.

I designed some shirts to help in my campaign, and you can find them over at Spreadshirt. After Spreadshirt take their cut, the remaining money will go directly to the Heart & Lung Foundation.

So, that’s it, if you feel like contributing, please buy a shirt and help spread the word. Or just share this post to help. My goal has always been to NOTuse Spreadshirt as a manufacturer, as the percentage I get to donate is pretty low, but at the same time, it’s very convenient and can be used from all around the world. I also have a dedicated website set up for #heartbeard, and it’s located at http://heartbeard.org, check it out. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but I will try to do it more often.

Do you have heart disease, or do you have someone in your family with it? Share your story in the comments!

Be sure to follow #heartbeard on Social Media!

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Read my series on overcoming social anxiety!

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