Ali Martell: Straight Up, With a Twist


Making Death Wait: The Risk Assessment Test

And Gut-Punching Genetics

When your dad says the words "I’M SCARED" it’s as if your world is flipped-turned upside-down. 

Parents aren't allowed to have four heart attacks. Parents aren't allowed to crawl to the ambulance. Parents aren't allowed to get scared. And parents most certainly aren't allowed to think they are going to die. 

But there I was, sitting in the floor of the hospital waiting room playing Angry Birds with my siblings while we waited to hear an update from the doctor. Phrases like enlarged aortic bulb and catheter and open-heart surgery and myocardial infractions and defibrillators and pacemaker and  insulin and coumadin and ticking time bomb were being thrown around all over the place.

BUT THEN he woke up. 

And we know that my dad is certainly not out of the woods. He has a crappy heart. He is half-bionic now. He has lots of scars. He can’t hold a cell phone on his left ear ever again. He is diabetic.

And it’s altogether possible that I have a crappy heart too. My dad’s dad died suddenly of a heart aneurysm. They think that it’s possible that he died of the exact same thing that my dad has going on. Which, GENETICS. I hate genetics right now. I am now feeling a little bit thankful that I have chubby thighs. I’ll take my chubby thighs and tiny pea head and knobby knees any day over a crappy heart and type II diabetes.

So, now, here I am. 

I am 33-years-old. 

And I'm scared as hell. 

Thanks to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, I was able to take an online risk assessment. (You can take one here!) The assessment takes fewer than ten minutes to complete, and takes my family history and my eating and exercise habits into account to let me know what is putting me risk of heart disease and stroke, and how I can take immediate action to live a longer and fuller life.

Even though I watch what I eat (fairly well) and I exercise (fairly frequently), you can see that I still have 13 of the possible 16 risk factors. The assessment helps to point out WHAT I can add to my diet to make it healthier, what I can do as far as exercise goes to make my body healthier. 

I need regular physicals.

I need regular blood tests.

I need regular cholesterol tests.

I need CT scans to look for calcium.

I need to exercise more. Not for my weight; for my heart.

I need to watch my sugars, my carbs, my salt. Not for my weight; for my heart.

I need to eat foods rich in omega-3s.

I need to fight this. I can fight this. I will fight this.


Just watch me. Because the thought of my three children sitting in a waiting room playing Angry Birds and hearing me say that I’m scared is enough motivation to do my damnedest to fight the stupid genetics.

I encourage you to make death wait too. Take the risk assessment test today and gut-punch your own genetics and risk factors.