by Patrick Jason Rodriguez
It didn’t matter that the temperature was 23 degrees. I left the house a few minutes before five in the morning regardless, ready to partake in the same grueling activity that I’ve done for the past 12 years on the day after Thanksgiving. No, I’m not talking about schlepping shopping bags from store to store on Black Friday – after all, I prefer to do my holiday gift buying in the late afternoon on Dec. 24 – but rather jogging outside when the sun still hasn’t risen above the eastern plains.
I don’t do this because of some post-adolescent anti-establishment gripe about all the hoopla surrounding the busiest shopping day of the year. I do this jogging stuff for my health, and also it seems like a fitting way to bid farewell to another American Diabetes Month.
Anyway, I was running. I started off by heading west toward the New Mexico Tech campus. The aesthetically pleasing architecture, the manicured rolling green hills (even in late November), and the tall broadleaf trees with red and yellow leaves all provided the right amount of serenity. And the good news was that I wasn’t the only one exercising while braving the bitter cold, either by jogging, walking, or bicycling.
I lost count after an hour and a half, when I arrived at the Plaza, but the tally at that point had reached 34. I know that seems like a small number, but it really isn’t all that bad for a western city with a population of about 9,000.
I bring up all of this because diabetes is a serious issue. It’s a disease that about 171 million people worldwide suffer from, roughly 2.8 percent of the population. I’m fortunate enough not to be one of them, though my mother isn’t so lucky.
She was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes 21 years ago, at age 40, and every day since she’s had to poke herself on the tip of one of her fingers with a needle stick in order to draw a tiny blood sample which she uses to test her blood sugar levels on a handheld glucose monitor. And then there are the bruises on her abdomen from the syringe and needle that she uses to provide her with a sufficient amount of insulin due to a failed pancreas.
There’s a strong genetic basis for contracting type-2 diabetes, so you can see why I tend to exercise vigorously, though environmental factors also come into play. Better to be safe than sorry, I suppose.
Still, it pains me to know that my mother has suffered from this kind of abuse, and I wished that she had taken better care of health in her youth. In fact, even today I wish that she would exercise and eat healthier.
When I returned home, after two hours of jogging, I prepared a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and soymilk, peeled a banana, and then poured myself a glass of orange juice and water mixed together.
Then an hour later I called my mother, and she said she was okay.