Trying to process it all…and failing

My brother, Leo, sent me a photo of my mom sleeping. It looked like a 19th century death photo—not kidding. I’m still trying to process it. She isn’t coherent and isn’t able to communicate with me over the phone. She is having massive panic attacks and is combative with staff. She no longer recognizes my brother and I doubt she knows who I am anymore.

I’m sorry to be a downer, but I can’t not mention all this, because it’s what’s happening now and it’s my mother. I cannot not discuss how devastating this is and how it’s affecting my every waking moment. How I know I need to be at peace with letting her go because she needs to transition peacefully, but how I’m not ready to lose my mother.

She adopted me, raised me, made me who I am in so many ways. But in the end, to love her is to want final peace for her. When she is gone, a big part of me will go with her.

I want to thank my loving, sensitive husband for being with me at this time and helping me through this. He is an angel incarnate. Such a gentle, understanding soul. I love you, Paul.

Untangling My DNA: Some Surprises Ahead?

My full ancestral composition info isn’t loaded yet, but apparently large parts of my DNA match that of other people from these countries. I figured the UK and Ireland would figure somewhere, but NOT Switzerland, Norway, and Russia! Wow! I loaded a screenshot of the info 23andme recently added to my personal DNA profile. Now I’m even more eager to get the ancestral composition results!

Untangling my DNA: Elevated Risk Factors for Diseases

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Right! So back to the DNA results from 23andme.com (for those of you who asked what the company name was). There’s a lot to go through in the health section. They check for your risk related to over 240+ health conditions and assess if you have a typical, decreased, or elevated risk factor for each one.

Well, I have those results. The good news is that I do NOT have the breast cancer mutations that are so nasty (you know, the ones Angelina Jolie had that caused her to remove her breasts). So that’s good. BUT, there were quite a few health conditions that were elevated that made me uncomfortable–one was Alzheimers, another was Schizophrenia, and another was Lupus!

Here are the rest of the ones I had genetic markers for. None of them are pretty. Doesn’t mean I’ll get ANY of them; however, I have genetic markers that predispose me to those diseases. Scary! Of course, environmental and lifestyle factors play a role. Still…these things are good to know, I figure.

Mind you, for the majority of my life I’ve not had to go to doctors often compared to most people. I’ve struggled with bronchitis/asthma my whole life, and as for surgeries, I’ve had my tonsils taken out, gall bladder removed, a D & C, and two C-sections. Oh, and a skull fracture (when I was a little kid).

Here are the health conditions I have elevated risk factors for. I’ve added a + sign to the ones I already suffer from: Alzheimer’s Disease, Chronic Kidney Disease* (*this actually runs strong on my birth mother’s side of the family, according to the genealogical records I have on hand), Celiac Disease (I used to be allergic to wheat/wheat products when I was a kid and had to take allergy shots. Maybe I should go gluten free), Ulcerative Colitis, Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), Scleroderma (Limited Cutaneous Type), Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, Alcohol Dependence (honestly, alcohol is okay, but I go long periods of time without drinking anything. If I never drank alcohol again, it wouldn’t matter. I’m not hooked on it. Chocolate, however, is another matter!), Asthma+ (already have this and bronchitis–my whole LIFE!), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Dupuytren’s Disease, Gout, Hay Fever+ (Allergic Rhinitis), Hodgkin Lymphoma, High Blood Pressure (Hypertension), Keloid, Kidney Stones, Obesity  (I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life!), Ovarian Cancer, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease+ (diagnosed last October),  and Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Well now, aren’t those results a big ray of sunshine? *laughs* Seriously…it seems like a lot, but as I said, they check for over 240 diseases/health conditions and the rest I ranked either typical or decreased risk.

Still, if I had to pick some nasty ones, this list is pretty darned nasty! I mean…the cancers alone, right? *shudder* Although my risk for breast cancer is decreased compared to average. I also have a higher-risk marker for hypothyroidism along with 3 typical markers and 1 lower-risk marker, so it could go either way. Given my current situation, it appears the higher-risk marker has won out! :-/

Anyway…isn’t this amazing? Better to know these things than be in the dark over them!    

Untangling my personal DNA profile

Wow — I don’t know where to begin with this, but here goes: For several years, I’ve wanted to get a DNA test for my ancestry because I was adopted and I know next to nothing about my paternal history and some about my maternal lineage (thanks to my birth brother, Jan, and the maternal family genealogist, Norma. Finding out about my ancestry and potential health concerns (genetically) has been extremely important to me.

I never got the test before because, well, surviving on a day-to-day basis and dealing with a financial roller coaster and bills was a huge concern, especially over the past three years. That’s always been the priority. But I hoped to get the DNA test one day in the far, far future.

Well, thanks to a friend’s generosity, I got the DNA test as an anniversary gift! Like I said, Paul and I never have had a honeymoon, but until we can afford a real one (even if we’ve been married for a while!) we still appreciate the blessings we receive here and there.

Anyway, once I opened the test kit, I sent in the saliva sample (that was sooo gross, by the way! I had to spit for like two minutes. UGH!) and then the waiting began.

As of tonight, the results finally started to come in. Earlier this evening I checked on the site to see what the progress was (because I heard it took up to 9 weeks), and about 80 percent of my data is loaded! I have to wait up to two more weeks for the ancestral composition, but they have the haplogroup from my maternal line up there already — and I’m blown away. What’s more, the health information (which runs pages and pages) is jaw-dropping in its detail.

I can’t believe that this is finally happening and I’ll finally get answers about my ancestry and genetic health profile based on my DNA. This is like a dream that I NEVER thought would come true!

Right now I feel so grateful and blessed by all the kindness we have experienced in light of the extreme stress, panic, fear, and depression Paul and I have coped with as of late. I just want to say that I’m totally blown away by it all.

I also wanted to say that, although it may be boring to some people, I’m so excited over the results that I am going to share them here, so I hope you won’t mind!

This all seems like a dream that has finally become reality. Never thought I would see the day! 

Hooray for awesome family visits!

Cannot express what a wonderful time we had with Jon and his girlfriend Cait. I didn’t check email once (sorry if you emailed me) and I felt like I finally got some time to just be me and hang with my kids.

Britt was amazing and helped me do so many things, like cooking, straightening up the house, and making a special treat for Jon’s 24th bday.

Overall, the only bad spot was that Paul had to work till 11:30 p.m. every night, but we did stay up and hang out several hours after he got off work.

All the way around, I’d say the visit was a success. These past several days gave me perspective on why I get so stressed out and have such a hard time. I’m really not as kind or forgiving of myself as I should be. I’m critical of myself in major ways and I’m rarely happy with anything I do (contrary to what some people may think).

Also, there is not enough balance in my life between work and play. I’m probably 90 percent work and 10 percent play right now. Moving that to 70/30 would be better. I love my career because I enjoy what I do. So I don’t see it as *work* like most people think of their jobs as work.

Anyway, gained some perspective and that’s always a good thing. Beautiful time with the family and so grateful for my adoring husband, two fantastic kids, and Jon’s magnificent girlfriend. As far as I’m concerned, Cait is family now.

Ever see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Cait reminds me of Ramona SO much! Seriously. She IS Ramona! I adore her in every way possible.