Krystyn Young-benham’s Story

Cardiomyopathy Survivor, Age 38, Richmond, VA

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Krystyn 's Story

Below is my Heart Journal which you can use a reference guide.  Thanks again for your time.


Living a healthy lifestyle hadn’t been a foreign concept for me. I ate pretty well, was physically active, and found solace running and meditation. So, on May 6th 2013, when I became severely short of breathe and very tired after mile 2 into my run, I became concerned. I took my concerns to my doctor (GP) and was diagnosed with bronchitis, then pneumonia. However, it wasn’t until I was referred to Dr. Vipal Sahbarwal with Bon Secours Heart & Vascular Institute, where the picture of my health became very clear. Dr. Sahbarwal, ordered an EKG & Echocardiogram and the results would alter my entire universe.

On May 22nd, at the young age of 35, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Cardiomyopathy and was currently in heart failure. Apprehensive of the journey ahead, I was admitted into Bon Secours St. Mary’s hospital for treatment of my ailing heart. My heart was super weak, with the left ventricular ejection fraction measured at 10%. Needless to say I was in a very critical condition. However, with my support system of family and close friends rallying around me with Love and Prayer, I wasn’t as intimidated by the diagnosis.

On May 26th, my condition took a turn for the worst, as I suffered a stroke. My “Dream Team” of doctors and nurses sprang into action, as every second after a stroke is a crucial one. The drug tPA was administered; which improved my chances of recovery dramatically. I have acute sensory deficit in my left hand, but most importantly I have my life. After two weeks in the Cardiac Care Unit recovering physically and mentally, I was discharged from Bon Secour St. Mary’s hospital on June 4. I left the hospital with a LifeVest (external defibrillator), a complete understanding of the benefits my medication, a respectable dietary lifestyle change, and orders to enroll into Cardiac Rehab and Occupational Therapy.

On July 25th, I was scheduled for an EKG reading and follow up with my cardiologist. While in the office a limited echocardiogram was ordered and performed to measure the percentage of the left ventricle. If the results concluded anything less than 35%, it would mean I would become a candidate for an internal defibrillator implant. I anxiously waited for four days to hear the results, as the outcome would forever change my life.

On July 30, I received a call from Dr.Vipal Sahbarwal informing me that my E.F. measured in at 45% and I was no longer a candidate for an internal defibrillator. He also stated I could prepare to turn over the LifeVest, as it wouldn’t be needed much longer. I was so relieved to hear the results, but I knew all along that I serve an Awesome GOD!! My full echocardiogram is scheduled for August 26, 2013 and I’m praying for an E.F. 55%!

On August 15, I received a call from the nurse with the Cardiovascular Institute stating, I could remove the LifeVest and make arrangements to mail it back to the company. The call couldn’t have come on a better day, as August 15 is my birthday. Can you say, best birthday present Ever?

On Monday August 26, 2013, I anxiously went in for my full echocardiogram and afterwards to my scheduled routine appt with Dr. Sahbarwal. I was under the assumption that the results from the echo would take a day or two so, I wasn’t prepared to receive the miraculous news bestowed upon me. As of today my Ejection Fractions are sitting pretty at 55%; which is considered Normal. Who says there isn’t healing prayer? Who says there isn’t healing in The Name of Jesus? I’m a believer and a witness! I have so much work to do in My New Life, and I’m going to “Hit the Ground RUNNING”, just as soon as I get clearance from Cardiac Rehab!

Today September 3, 2013 after being told I would be unable to run 5K for a very long time, I beat the odds. Not only did I run a 5K, I ran 3.36 miles in 27.09 minutes at a 8’04” pace. What an awesome feeling of accomplishment? To some it may not some like much, but to me it symbolizes endless possibilities.    

“No weapons formed against thee shall prosper” Isaiah 54:17.

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Krystyn is interested in giving support to other women with heart disease. Contact her if you'd like to receive support.


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