A Family’s Medical Journey; Do You Know Yours?

There is a history sitting before us prior to our own existence which tells a tale like no other. Its the journey of our ancestors. You’ve probably read about our ancestors in history books or online or through genealogy websites or passed down from generations of stories amongst your relatives.

Then there is the journey of your ancestors medical records.

How well does anyone really know their ancestors medical records? Some probably better than others. Yes this is a bit morbid.

There is a history that I am unaware of, that belongs somewhere in the throughs of my families history. Its always a little difficult to talk about with others because we only truly know one side; our mother’s.

You see, my father many years ago was adopted. Unlike today’s records on the internet these records were buried in a file folder in a metal cabinet way back in the mid 1940’s. His history was not shared with him after he was adopted by his foster family. Only the fact. That he was adopted. His adopted family from what I know were very loving and kind. All of his foster parents siblings treated these adopted children like one of their blood relatives. It wasn’t until many years later that I learnt both of my father’s sisters, they too, were adopted.

The medical journey on my father’s side of the family, stopped when he died back in 1999.

Why am I choosing today, to write about this?

I’ve chosen today, because it’s the 22nd year since he’s been gone and we are rapidly approaching the year when I will have been alive longer without him than with him. And I am trying to recall the way he smiled at you with a smirk in the corner of his mouth. Or the way he would scold you for not picking up after yourself. Or the casual way that he continued to be a friend and a father at the same time, and that horrible morning when I learnt he had gone away.

There is a day out there in my future which I have been dreading since I turned forty. Inside my own mind its more frightening than the morning when I learnt he had passed away. It’s the day when medical records no longer apply. It’s the day when I wonder if my heart will give out, as his did and this peaceful journey of mine will come to an end.

You see, I’ve been having heart murmurs for about eighteen months now. My family doctor has run a battery of tests and ensures me with each successful pass that my heart and its valves are strong and healthy. That I will outlive my ancestors.

Then there is these episodes like tonight. I’m casually sitting here typing and WHAMMY!! there is this thunderous palpitation crushing the inside of my left chest cavity. It strikes fear into my wife’s eyes as I clutch my chest holding my tongue and I stop everything that I am doing.

I sit calmly holding myself still. I become sedated slowly breathing in and then out. I’m watching the rhythms of my heart or is it? I’ve been told the muscle tissue around my chest cavity could be the cause of this palpitation. I’m told I should rush myself to a hospital to be admitted and pin-pricked with needles and gauges. But who should you really trust?

History or a family doctor?

On my mother’s side of the family everyone has passed away of natural causes in their late 80’s and early 90’s, they are a healthy breed from an agricultural background. Their families came over during the potato famine in Ireland forever ago. And my mother and her sisters are all in their 70’s happily beating back time living with the ailments of growing old.

The law of averages says that the longer my mother lives the longer my siblings and I, shall live too. Or is that just blind faith? After all in the end we must all be relieved of our current status in this life to learn what is behind door #2.

~ Aaron JacksonCrabb