Medical Family History: Get It Down Before They’re Gone!

Yesterday my family convened around the Easter Dinner table for our usual holiday meal craziness. We are blessed because most of us live within a two hour drive, so we can get together for holidays or for fun, but not feel like we’re making an extended stay out of it.

And we are blessed because we all get along so well. And there’s always so much laughter!

For a few moments yesterday, things got a bit more serious. Because I was reminded during production of my radio show which aired yesterday, I thought to ask about medical problems in our family. I have two sisters with whom I share most, although probably not all, genes. The advice given on the show was, when your family gets together, take the opportunity to discuss medical problems that might affect the others, especially when some family lives out of town. Imagine that — I took the advice we proferred on the radio show!

The basics we already know — our mom has Alzheimers, our dad has arthritis, we have aunts and uncles who have suffered various cancers. What I learned yesterday, to my surprise, is that both my sisters have negative blood types! And my blood is A+. We discussed how that had been a factor in the births of their babies.

While it may never be information any of us need to use, it’s definitely something of interest to us. We also discussed the fact that my dad’s mother had given birth to a second child (Dad was the first) and the baby had died shortly after birth. None of us have ever known how the baby died — but with the revelation of the negative blood types in the family, we guessed that the baby may have died from the problems with different blood types. In those days — late 1920s — the knowledge about blood types was not as thorough as it is today.

Why do I share all this with you? Because family history can most definitely affect not only your health, but how well any problems you have may be diagnosed. Familiarity with your family’s medical history may very well help you in the future — if not now.

Sharp patients know to get information from older family members before it is no longer possible — before they are too old or before they die. Among our children at the table yesterday, all of whom are young adults, there was a perfect example of how they will now be able to use that kind of information.

Hope your holiday — Easter or Passover — was a delight and you were able to learn something about your family medical history, too.

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Trisha Torrey
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