Bridell Carter believes in second (and third) chances
Bridell Carter believes in second and third chances. Twenty years ago he turned away from a rambunctious life towards faith. Then three years ago Carter suffered a massive heart attack. Surviving this event reaffirmed his beliefs. Having overcome these self-made and health related obstacles, Carter now shares his blessings with others.
Carter grew up in a religious home but as a young man showed little compassion to those around him. When he was thirty-three, he experienced a life-altering moment with a family member that made him realize how low he had fallen. He started crying and a change came over him. He surrendered his “life of the party” ways and Carter says, “I went from being the black sheep of the family to being a good influence on the children.”
During his transformation, Carter started working out. His previous lifestyle made him ignore the doctor’s warnings about his weight and unhealthy way of living.
When Carter started his journey toward a healthier life seventeen years ago he was the weakest among his friends. His perseverance made him one of the strongest. As he gained strength and lost weight, he started to feel better about himself.
Working out at the YMCA with greater purpose allowed Carter’s outgoing personality to shine. He enjoyed sharing his insights and leading discussions about sports, exercise, and eating—with a dose of friendly teasing thrown in.
Carter’s life had finally found balance. He had a good job as a commercial trucker, a supportive wife, and two children starting to make their way in the world. Then, in 2016, after a light warm-up, Carter was about to show off his strength by lifting 450 pounds. As he approached the barbell he collapsed. He suffered a massive heart attack.
YMCA members and staff stabilized Carter providing CPR. He was then rushed to Rappahannock General Hospital and air evacuated to Bon Secours in Richmond. The doctors said Carter had died and his brain had been without oxygen for 45-50 minutes. They were unsure if he would live or, if he did, feared that he would remain in a vegetative state.
When Carter awoke almost a week later, his first question was, “Who’s sick?” When his wife told him he had a heart attack, Carter did not believe her; he did not remember any of it. When she showed him the insertion scar for his implanted defibrillator, his next question was, “When can I go back to the Y?”
The heart attack resulted from a blood clot releasing from a knee injury. Its repercussions have changed Carter’s life. Where he once drove long-hauls for a living, he now only goes three places: the church, the doctor’s office, and the YMCA. The heart attack also gave Carter a form of post traumatic stress disorder, which causes depression.
Carter says his ordeal has given him a better understanding of his faith and the path he must walk. He believes his miraculous survival can inspire others that are suffering. He shares his story and offers them comfort but takes no credit for any relief they find. Carter believes, “I’m a gardener. I plant seeds. It is up to the person to water those seeds and grow.”
Coming to the YMCA almost every day, Carter is regaining his strength and stamina through exercise. He also uses the friendly atmosphere as therapy for his bouts of depression. The YMCA gives Carter a feeling of peace and relaxation. He is among friends and the positive energy renews him.
Carter is at peace with his life. He has learned to find happiness in wanting what he has and not what he wants. And, with a smile he adds, “My gift of gab allows me to share my message with others.”