Alonzo Mourning's All-Star Rebound
The NBA champ talks to WebMD about his recent battle with kidney disease, why he decided to team up with the National Kidney Foundation, and his enduring love for the game.
How have sports influenced your health (in positive and/or negative ways)?
Positive: Being involved in sports has allowed to me to heal and deal
with kidney disease. One of the biggest mistakes that people make once they are
diagnosed is to become inactive. It might just be walking to the mailbox or
around the block, but it's very important to stay active. Doctors were amazed
by what I am able to do after going through such an extreme procedure, and how
well I am able to do it. The reason I am able to continue at this level of
competition is because I had a good physical fitness foundation. My body was
able to recover faster, is what my doctors tell me. When patients are
overweight, and have high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, it makes the
healing process much longer -- and tougher.
Negative: I don't believe that sports have had a negative effect on
my health at all. Regardless of how successful I am, there will be wear and
tear on my body.
Do you have a personal health philosophy? What is it?
"You are what you eat." It is a statement that is often ignored, but you
truly are what you eat. If you eat unhealthy things, then you're going
to feel unhealthy, as you get older. If you eat good things for your body,
you'll feel so much better.
What qualities do you most desire in a doctor or health care provider?
I look for a very broad way of thinking in a physician. I want a doctor who
doesn't just leave it to prescription drugs to make it happen to you. I want a
broad range of understanding on how to heal people. My nephrologist, Dr. Gerald
Appel, MD, is respected worldwide. And my holistic doctor, Dr. Hotchner, is
someone I admire.
Do you give health advice to your teammates? Do you take health advice from them?
Yes, I've given them herbal health remedies to help with cold and flu. But I
do want everyone to know, especially those with transplants who are taking
other medications, that before taking any herbal remedies you need to check
with your MD. Do I take advice from my teammates? NO!
How has being a parent changed you?
It made me understand responsibility even more, because I have another life
that relies on me to exist.
Did becoming a father affect how you take care of yourself?
Most definitely. For example, when I turned 30 I had a custom Aston Martin
made for me. After only driving it only once, I gave it back. When I was
driving in it I felt like I was in a cockpit -- I have two children, and I knew
that this was not smart.