A Good Candidate · 6 November 2010

All things considered, I am a good candidate. Not for any political office or anything like that, but unfortunately, for diabetes and/or a heart attack.

Just looking at my chiseled figure, most people would not probably think that I am at much risk for getting diabetes or for having a heart attack. They also would probably not think that I have a chiseled body because quite frankly, I do not have one. Still, even though I do not have an overly huge (but definitely not flat) belly, I cannot dispel thoughts of needles (for injecting me with insulin) or paddles (for waking me from the dead). I guess I have genetics and TV to thank for those images.

Genetically speaking, I am a high risk for diabetes. My parents both have type-2 diabetes and have been taking insulin for many years. One of my brothers also has it, but is controlling it without insulin. My dad’s mom also had it and at least a couple of my parents’ siblings have diabetes as well. Knowing that I have a genetically high risk of getting diabetes is like living with a time bomb and not knowing when it will go off. Sometimes I wonder if I am just a donut away from getting it. And looking at statistics on the American Diabetes Association website (, I cannot help but wonder if I am unknowingly one of the 5.7 million who have not been diagnosed or one of the 57 million who are pre-diabetic.

Unfortunately, I also worry a bit about heart disease. My dad has had a couple major heart surgeries as well as a few stents to help with clogged arteries. Much of his heart disease can be traced to his many years of smoking, and at least some of it was probably due to his diabetes. Besides my dad, only two other people in my family had heart problems. My cousin, Danny, died in his early thirties from a heart attack caused by clogged arteries. And his dad, my mom’s brother-in-law, has had heart trouble in the past.

Even though somebody said that my cousin’s heart attack was probably due to genetics on his dad’s side, I did not take any chances. I started getting yearly physicals. After all, Danny was only eighteen months older than me. I even had a stress test that first year after he died to make sure that my heart was in good condition. My doctor says that I am in pretty good shape. But I know that I can do a better job. I know I can take better care of myself.

Almost two years ago, I had surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon. Afterwards when I was rehabilitating, I had the distinct feeling that God was telling me that I need to run. Part of it was to get back into some semblance of shape after being off my feet for so long, but it seemed like much more than that. Still, I could not get over my dislike for running and put off going for that first run until almost a year and a half after I knew I was supposed to start. This past summer, I finally went for that first jog.

My friend and neighbor, Harry, was the one who finally got me going. We play on the same basketball team and we have been talking about jogging together for quite some time. I had been telling myself for months that I needed to start a running regime, but I could not get out that first time. Until Harry dragged me out to the road. It was the summer and I knew I had to start sometime, but my writing or something else important always got in the way. I guess it is true that any excuse will do when you do not want to do something. After that first 15-minute run, I had my kick start. And I am still running (when I am not hurt).

I am not the fastest runner or the strongest runner and I do not plan on being a competitive runner. I just run because God and my wife want me to be healthy. I want to be too. I want to eat right and exercise enough so that I do not need to worry so much about genetics catching up to me. I want to get rid of the images of insulin needles and heart paddles. I want to keep diabetes and heart disease away. And in this particular case, running away from my imagined problems seems like the best option. So I plan to continue running away from both diseases as long as I can. And if I keep running, maybe I will not be such a good candidate for either one.

[November is American Diabetes Month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day.]

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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