Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Warming Up

If you haven't been here in a while READ THIS FIRST and proceed with that post in mind. Thanks.


Still with me? Excellent. Long time, no see. How have you been? Me? Oh, I'm fine. Ezra's fine. Boy and Girl are almost three years old and just wonderful. Except when they make me want to run up to the roof and start chucking electronics down at the street like a drunk frat boy (only with somewhat less glee) - but that's parenthood, right? It's what I signed up for, and I really wouldn't trade it for anything. Not even sleep. Clearly not sleep, since I'm writing this at 1 AM.

The blog starting up again? Oh, real reason. It's just that, next week? I have this appointment, see? With a genetic counselor? Yeah, we're going to go over that big family medical history I just mailed off a few days ago - the one where it says that my parents died of icky, hard-to-detect cancers (ovarian and pancreatic, I'll let you guess who had which) at relatively young ages. Lung cancer nabbed my non-smoking maternal grandmother; though, to be fair, Grandpa was a chain-smoker for many years. Ooooh, plus a (paternal) aunt with breast cancer (in remission!), just for kicks.

The counselor and Ezra and I - we're going to talk and talk and talk and have a grand ole time for an hour or two, after which, if I'm really lucky, she'll recommend that I see a vampire get tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Because, hey, did you know that pancreatic cancer risk goes up with some BRCA2 mutations? Thanks, Dad! (Hey, I totally gave that one away, didn't I?)

The medical history was loads of fun to fill out, what with the dead parents and all. There goes a crucial source of information. But I did my best. One sister, not even of legal age to buy cigarettes - check. Mom's side was easy. I know how and when her parents died (ripe old ages; the aforementioned lung cancer, and a broken heart). One uncle, two cousins, no health issues I've heard of, and I'd probably have heard.

For the (much larger) remainder...I can never keep track of which of my dad's siblings is speaking to which others, and of course my dad was part of the drama, so even if he were alive I wouldn't get a straight answer about some of my cousins if I begged. Did I mention there's a language barrier? There's a language barrier. Thanks to Facebook (and one cousin in particular) I was able to at least get everyone's approximate birth years and confirm that nobody had died when I wasn't paying attention. Whew.

Family history was fun. But the truly exciting part was all the personal medical history. Age at first menstruation? Hell, I could tell you the day! Hormonal birth control use? My accounting was rather freakishly detailed. (Four different combination oral contraceptives, only one of which I could not name, plus NuvaRing and the minipill. I was able to nail start and end dates to within a month.) Likewise with the history of fertility medication and treatments.

Periods regular or irregular? Duh. Approximate length of cycle? Hi, I think I just said "irregular." As in highly. But for good measure I wrote in, "intermittent, >45 days."

Ever diagnosed with breast cancer? Nope! Skip about a dozen pages! Ever diagnosed with ovarian cancer? Nope! Skip...about two pages. Well, that wasn't nearly as satisfying.

This paperwork was all mailed to me in August. And I actually had filled most of it out by mid-October...and then set it down on a corner of my (black hole of a) desk, awaiting a few final details from my cousin. And put off filling those in and mailing it off. And put it off some more. And then put it off again, because if I haven't mailed it then clearly some other crucial piece of information is going to land in my lap, something that will magically make this whole venture unnecessary, and I won't have to mail it after all.

And then December 1 rolled around, and I realized that they might actually want this stuff rather soon, as the appointment was approaching and they need to run statistical analyses first and all that. So I resolved to put it all together and get it into the mail that very day. Or at least that very week. And by the weekend I decided that maybe I should actually really mail it. And then on Tuesday I decided that I was for-real going to find it and mail it by the next morning. Really.

And then...yup, couldn't find it. At all. I spent a good 24 hours in denial, and then another half-day or so talking myself into being able to own up to my irresponsibility (okay, so really a few good friends gently talked me into that) - and within an hour of calling the appropriate admin, I had shiny blank docs emailed to me. Email! What a world!

I filled all the paperwork out again that very night - by which I mean, at about 3 AM Friday. You know, the Friday ten days after I resolved to mail this stuff in, and less than two weeks before my appointment. But this time it actually got mailed. Promise.

I guess that's enough to digest at this hour. Because clearly you are all reading within moments of this post going up. Stay tuned to this channel - more fun and exciting background to come!

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At 9:35 AM, December 16, 2009, Blogger electriclady said...

Wow. That's a lot. We did pretty extensive genetic counseling before starting treatment (long story) way back when, and I remember it being a combination of cool (detective work!) and utterly terrifying. Good luck with everything.

At 11:07 AM, December 16, 2009, Blogger persephone said...

You know, I was trying to remember having to fill out so much paperwork - did my testing center not ask for as much?? have I just forgotten?? etc. - and finally I realized. I wasn't the first person in my family to be tested. Someone ELSE had to fill out all this paperwork.

At 2:16 PM, December 16, 2009, Blogger Erin said...

Wow, that is a lot to handle. I'm glad that the paperwork is done but ugh--having to do it twice! Good luck.

At 9:47 AM, December 17, 2009, Blogger projgen said...

Oh, that's like losing a well thought out, brilliantly written blog post and thinking, "there's no way in hell I could start all over and write that again."

Okay, maybe not like that. But I'd be a puddle of tears having to re-do a honkin' form like that. I'd also be in a similar situation trying to get the right info in the first place. Family members not speaking, everyone but one in the grandparental generation dead and the one survivor responds to questions with, "whadya wanna know THAT for??" Parents who refuse to acknowledge that anyone in the family has ever died at any point in time. Well, you get the picture.

I'm glad you were able to fill it all out again so quickly. I hope the appointment turns up nothing, and the vampire at least gives you flowers.

Now go get some sleep.


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