The season for family gatherings is upon us. This often brings together people with a host of differing opinions on various topics of the day, occasionally resulting in some apprehension or discomfort when making conversation. However, I propose a neutral and beneficial conversation for you to consider. Take advantage of this time to investigate the health issues hidden in your, or your spouse's, ancestral family tree.
This is a topic that can make for entertaining conversation, because it often triggers the recollection of distant memories and various ancestral stories. From a genetic standpoint, this conversation could potentially speed up medical diagnosis for current and future generations. You may also find family members have been silently dealing with similar health challenges, providing an avenue for mutual support.
I recently had this opportunity when both of my sister-in-laws flew in for a pre-Thanksgiving visit. Now, I didn't just drill them with questions, but to initiate the conversation it does require some questions be asked. It was very much a casual and enlightening conversation, and I found out much more about their family's health history than my husband had recalled or was even aware of.
This also provided an opportunity for me to ask about any unusual physical traits in their family; from joint hypermobility and sleep apnea to webbed toes, crooked pinkies, and unusual ear shapes. In fact, my sister-in-laws discovered some unique characteristics in their hands that they had never taken notice of. After all, we all think our norm is THE norm, but that is not necessarily the case. For instance, very few people experience brief paralysis upon waking, but those that do generally believe this to be something most people experience until they learn otherwise. This is simply because it is normal in their own personal experience.
With two children who share my husband's bloodline, this information could prove medically beneficial in their future, as well as my husband's. A matter of fact, gaining this historical medical knowledge is beneficial for generations yet to come. As it turns out, my husband's health has been related to his paternal great grandfather, resurfacing four generations later. I have also traced a rare condition in my family back to a written account by my maternal great aunt. She wrote of her own personal experience with the same unusual symptoms that my daughter and I have experienced.
So this holiday season, consider generating conversation with a beneficial purpose. You never know what you might learn.