Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Malcolm Makua making great strides

Malcolm Makua is out running again

    It was great seeing Malcolm Makua running in the 3.1-mile fun/run hosted by the County’s EMS on Memorial Day.

    For a few months Makua was absent from the running scene as he had developed an unexpected medical problem that brought some uncertainty into his life.

   On December 29, while out on an 8.5 mile run Makua encountered a frightful experience.  “I had just passed 5-miles when I just couldn’t run anymore,” he said.  “My mind said to continue but my body refused to go any further.”

   Makua remembers feeling very sick as he walked the rest of the way home.  Once home a 911 call was made and he was on his way to the Hilo Medical Center.

  “They found my heart rate racing over 200 beats per minute,” Makua said.  “The medical staff made a decision to use medication to bring my heart rate back to normal and the next day I was transferred to Tripler Army Medical Center for further testing.”

   Once at Tripler a cardiologist performed a cardiac catheterization.  “The doctor told me the bad news was like an old house where the plumbing over time gets clogged,” Makua said.  “But the good news is that my years of running had made my arteries unusually larger than normal.”

   Makua was to be transferred again, this time to Straub Clinic and Hospital, where an Electro cardiologist performed a heart ablation to the ventricle.   

   Within two months Makua was walking regularly up to 3-miles a day.  “Then the unthinkable happened,” he said.  “I was sitting at home in front of the computer, checking my blood pressure with a home monitor, when it would not register.”

  A quick physical check found Makua’s heart rate elevated and in fibrillation, an immediate trip to Hilo Medical Center was scheduled.   A doctor at the hospital performed electro cardio version to bring the heart into rhythm which worked.

  Makua began working his way up to where he was before encountering his fibrillation problems.  “I had a lot of confidence that the medication that I received in Honolulu, backed up by a defibrillator, would allow me to live a normal life again,” Makua said.

  After a short rest Makua was back on the road walking 3-miles daily.  “I may not run the Big Island Marathon this year,” he thought to himself, “but I plan to recover from my medical condition and do the race one day in the future.”

   Makua knew that he needed to take his recovery slowly and to work his way up to where he would feel comfortable and confident about his situation.

   “I was having high hopes of a good recovery when my world began to crumble in March as I was having another relapse,” he said.

   Now in the hospital for a third time in three months Makua’s heart rate was brought into a normal rhythm through the use of medication.  Besides the usual medications for arrhythmia Makua is also required to take 81 mg. of aspirin daily.

   “Right now I’m fine with a heart rate where it should be and blood pressure like I’m a 20 year old,” Makua said.  “The side effect from the medications is that I get a slight dizziness whenever I stand.”

   Through it all Makua is grateful for one thing and that is that he stayed in shape and was healthy going into it all.

   “Throughout this entire trauma I heard the doctors and nurses say that if it had not been for my good health things could have been worse and recovery slower,” Makua said.

   “I believe in staying in good health and it requires us to do our part by being active in any form of exercise,” Makua said.  “I watched a Tai-Chi master being interviewed and at the end he was asked if he had anything personal to share with the television audience and he said ‘whether the correct form or incorrect form of tai-chi, most important is, do tai-chi.”

   The moral of what Makua is sharing with the Big Dog readers is that it isn’t important what physical exercises you do, what is important is to do something, everyday to improve your health.

   “We should all be doing aerobics, or surfing, or kayaking or walking to improve our health,” Makua said.

   Makua was born in Honolulu and grew up in Hilo, served in the U.S. Army and worked with the U.S. Postal Service before returning to Keaukaha in 1999.

   “I weighed about 200 pounds when we moved back to the Big Island and I began to make a serious effort to lose weight and improve my health,” he said.

   Running was part of Makua’s daily life style in the Army, but when he got out he did very little running or exercise until he looked at himself in the mirror and saw his health going downhill.

  Today Makua is walking 4.5 miles five days a week, running 5K (3.1-miles) once a week and he recently joined an aerobic class two days per week.

   “There is no doubt that staying in good physical health helped me during those 911 calls,” Makua said.  I did not have the severe trauma associated with heart fibrillation and my recovery was surprisingly quick.”

July 19, 2010 - Posted by | Profiles | , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Good to hear that Malcolm is back in the race. He has always had a strong will and a good attitude along with good habits toward exercise. He is a good old friend of ours and we are always glad to hear from Him. Glad that you are doing well Mal. Elwood and Betty Lou

    Comment by Elwood and Betty Ingalls | July 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. Another great and inspiring story how being healthy and fit can help save your life!

    I read the hard copy of this story..
    I loved your Quote by Thoreau:
    “An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day!”

    Comment by RAJ | July 19, 2010 | Reply

  3. Malcohm is a true example how exercise and eating healthy
    will keep you on the right track. AR

    Comment by Adele Rosen | July 19, 2010 | Reply

  4. Aloha, I read your blog regarding Malcom Makua. What a wonderful story! As you might know, I worked as a health/medical news reporter and anchor in Hawaii on KGMB and later KHNL for more than 15 years. I retired recently and continue my work now in the field of medicine. I was really impressed with Malcom’s story. I was even more impressed when I saw he received treatment at Straub Clinic & Hospital. It must have been our EP “Electro Physiologist” or Electro Cardiologist who worked with Malcom’s heart situation. That would be Dr. Hingson Chun. Dr. Chun, who is a former long distance runner himself, would really love to hear about Malcom’s story. I will share it with Dr. Chun for sure! I currently work at Straub Clinic & Hospital where I recruit and hire physicians for the hospital and its outer lying clinics. I am so glad Dr. Chun helped Malcom get back on his feet.

    Mahalo for sharing the story!
    Angela Keen
    Manager, Physician Relations
    Straub Clinic & Hospital
    Honolulu, HI

    Comment by Angela keen | July 20, 2010 | Reply

  5. Great story , thanks for sharing. God Bless Beate

    Comment by Beate Collins | July 21, 2010 | Reply


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