This Monday morning it was colder than it had been for weeks and the breeze along the river trail was chilling, inside and out. I was therefore happy to see Bill walking toward me – a good reason to stop running and chat. Bill began his morning river walks when he was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and now he is out all mornings.
Bill (a former surgeon) informs me that since more heart attacks occur on Mondays than on any other day he, that morning, tripled his daily aspirin intake. We enjoy ribbing each other and I suggest a morning walk is more helpful than aspirin. He counters he will leave a book, “The Sports Gene”, in my mailbox. I vaguely recall “it’s about slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscles and, at the top of the game, a slow twitch athlete will do better at distance running and never outperform a fast twitch sprinter?” He nods. “But we can influence our outcomes – what about epigenetics, the way our genes are expressed, and now we have crispr to edit them?”I ask. He understands epigenetics and knows little about crispr (nor do I) and sums up “It all about your genes, the best thing you can do is choose your parents wisely”. I have now recovered my breath and it’s time to try catch M. who had sailed past Bill with a friendly smile, so we adjourn.
With the closing of the local Einstein’s Bagels and Bruegger’s Bagels, M. and I read our morning papers at McDonald’s where the coffee is good and no sugar added oatmeal acceptable. With me as the interlocutor, she and Bill have waged several offstage debates. I remember the one with Bill stating that, as a surgeon, he wanted his patients happy both before and after the surgery since this helped for a quicker recovery, and if hospital provided sodas and fried foods did the trick, he was fully supportive. To which M., RD, throws up her arms in frustration. Now, as to Bill’s insight of choosing your parents wisely, her quick response is “too late” (wish I had thought of that). Her measured comment – “80% of chronic disease (heart attack, diabetes, cancer, stroke etc.) is caused by avoidable factors such as environment, the food we eat, inadequate exercise and stress – and less than 20% is attributable to genes. And Bill accepts this, to some degree, hence his early morning walks.
But, notwithstanding some conciliation, two different cliff views and no bridge between.