Have you ever wanted to change your phone number? I had that sudden urge just tonight…but it was too late, because I had already answered the damn thing. Too late. She was off and running before I even got the second half of “hello” properly spoken. “I’ve got the most wonderful thing for you to do for the whole family for Christmas!” Dead silence on my end. Who in their right mind would reply to that statement,
especially even from their own mother? Not me. I struggled not to hang up and sever our ties completely.
“Don’t you want to know what it is?” Then, before I even had a chance to not answer the statement or the question, she was back at it. “I know everyone one would LOVE to have the health history of our family, and you can do it, Patti!” She released a few syrupy sweet lines, adding a mound of butter, to really set the hook. As if. I’ve had over 50 years to learn how to deal with these tactics.
If only…For the next hour, I held my cell phone in one hand and a pen in the other, as we charted 5 generations of our family tree, including physical and mental health issues for each person. RELATIVE ALERT: This information will NOT be in my next post! Or even the next one. This is private family information that is only for family. Seriously, don’t freak out.
Besides, it’s all mom’s fault. While I am a family history researcher, this topic can be a little iffy (note the alert above). Mom and I went back and forth about what should be included and what, if anything, should be
denied excluded. We have lost at least one person, from all but one generation, mainly to heart problems or cancer; this is important stuff.
As a matter of fact this information can tuck neatly into the health file that I hope you started working on during my Postcard series. Remember that? No? I will have a hard copy of it available soon, but here’s a link to the last one, which has links to the whole series http://wp.me/p3i5jo-8N.
So, uh um uh, mom was right (I might as well tattoo that on my forehead now), this will be a great gift for the family. I send out a yearly name, address, phone number list most years anyway, so I can just add this to it.
There, my Christmas shopping is done, before it even started. I like that in a holiday!
Mom and I agreed to add all known physical and mental health issues for those who have died (not in the mood for a tactful euphemism). For living relatives, we will leave the mental health issues for individuals to fill out on their own and share with whom they chose.
I decided not to change my phone number, at least until next time.
*please note, motherly quotes directly from daughter’s faulty memory.
How Do I Do This?
Below are some questions to start with, from this site: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/creatingafamilyhealthhistory/howtocreateafamilyhealthhistory/01.html They have an online form you can fill out and have saved for your private use, or you can print their form and fill it out. (There are other resources available from any search engine; copy & paste or type: family health history form.)
“To start, make a list of relatives to contact. See if there are any existing family trees, charts, or baby books. Important questions to ask your blood relatives include the following.
- What is your age or date of birth?
- Do you have any chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure?
- Have you had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke? (If you know of a specific disease or illnesses in your family, ask about them, too.)
- How old were you when you developed these illnesses?
- Have you or your partner had any problems with pregnancies or childbirth?
Other questions to ask are:
- What countries did our family come from? (Knowing this can help because some genetic diseases occur more often in certain population groups. Also, different diets and living environments can influence the risks of developing certain diseases.)
- Has anyone in the family had birth defects, learning problems, or developmental disabilities, such as Down’s syndrome?
- What illnesses did our late parents or grandparents have? How old were they when they died? What caused their deaths?”
Do you think you will work on this? How important do you think it is, that we share this information with our family members?
I just think, if I have to do it, you should too:>) I’ll tell mom!
Every Damn Day? Who’s idea was this anyway?
From writing challenge Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/