Syracuse Online


Water Fights Most Ills

Published February 3, 2003 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Blood plays a vital role in running. It transports oxygen from the lungs to the legs to fuel the exothermal reaction necessary for forward motion, then it carries the resulting waste out of the muscles. Blood also brings a healthy glow to the faces of runners, who brim with a natural beauty second to none.

At footraces and track meets alike, blood traditionally spills out of pumping veins to anoint runners with a mark of achievement. Who among us has not experienced or witnessed blood-stained shirts at the end of a 10-miler or scraped knees at a cross country race?

Alas, blood also manifests itself in ugly ways in a runner's life. A long run on an empty bladder can cause bleeding. An in-grown toe nail or a blister can ruin new socks, and the excessive use of painkillers can cause stomach ulcers.

As an experienced survivor many of these symptoms, I felt invincible. My attitude changed one morning after I noticed a dark coating on my stools. Given my distinguished ancestry - cancer claimed nine of the last 10 deaths in my family, including colon cancer in both maternal and paternal uncles - I made room in my busy schedule for a trip to my physician.

A wise man who mocks my running addiction, my physician sent me straight to a specialist. There, I watched comfortably an award-winning video on the exploration of the human colon, all six feet of it. After denying my request to webcast my colonoscopy live on the Internet, the nurse sent me home with a gallon of lime-flavored colon detergent.

Drinking that awful solution made me sick to my stomach, and prepared me for the examination. A former Army surgeon skillfully maneuvered a laser snake into the darkest corners of my guts. I do not remember much of the procedure itself thanks to modern medicine. The outcome was the best I could expect. The surgeon found no tumors or polyps. He attributed the blood in my stool to internal fissures, caused by running while dehydrated.

Somehow, water shortage always turns out as the culprit in my running woes. Besides protecting the brain from cooking and the bladder from cracking, water delays muscle fatigue and speeds up recovery. It may also delay the inevitable encounter with the six-foot laser monster.

© 2003 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at