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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is It Good to Know?


Is it good to know...one’s Fate?

I dunno.

I’ve never been one to consult a fortune teller, paw at entrails or study tea leaves. Never had my palm read or stared at Tarot cards. Just wasn’t my “thing.”

But then there’s the matter of blood tests, genetic markers and sundry empirical indicators of perils to come. We’ve only just begun to identify Fate’s harbingers.

Science marches on.

And Science has discovered clues as to the fate of some. Amniocentesis testing can reveal what the human-to-be will be (to a degree). We can test for a select few genes guaranteed to lead to heartache. We can inject our blood into chromatographs and discover inconvenient truths...or enjoy blessed relief.

And I’ve pondered all of this over the years in an abstract, absent-minded fashion. Interesting question, no? Would I want to know, if I could know, my destiny?

Well, THAT question is no longer an abstract, philosophical pondercation for this pilgrim.

I’ve learned that researchers have developed a near-perfect test to determine if an individual will succumb to Alzheimer’s. I haven’t studied the particulars, but it has been reported that there is now a spinal fluid examination that reliably indicates whether or not an individual's brain will disintegrate.

Yes, Alzheimer’s. The bane of my existence.

It’s been my family’s curse (from all sides). I’ve spent decades wandering the floors of Alzheimer’s wards, tending to family members whose brains no longer functioned. The experience has been horrific. I dread the disease because I know it too well.

And now I know that my spinal fluid can reveal my future. And I ask myself: “Is it good to know one’s Fate?

I dunno.

* * *

11 Comments:

Blogger June Calender said...

Not all Alzheimer's patients suffer alike. And not all inheritable diseases are inevitable. There's a ray of hope -- grab it. And read more extensively about what's known. Read about the study in Kentucky of the nuns' brains [ongoing for many years now] where it was found that some who had brains indistinguishable from other brains with Alzheimer's nevertheless did not appear to have the disease during their lifetimes. Do not let yourself be spooked by the goblins of media hype. The cliche is true: we can only live in now -- after all, when else is living so vivid?

Thu Oct 21, 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

I would want to know because I would want to plan for it. I would put nothing off and do all of my traveling now, empty out my retirement fund and when I started to get confused would have a plan to take my own life. But that's me.

Thu Oct 21, 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

I had this exact discussion with my husband the other night. I came to the conclusion that I would do the test if we were considering having children (but we've already been there, done that). But at this stage of mid life I see no point. If I found out I had the Alzheimer's gene, I'd be thinking "Here it is...Now it begins..." every time I lost my keys or forgot how to spell sandwich, which is quite often. I don't want to look that hard for something I don't want to see.

Thu Oct 21, 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

It doesn't matter. The disease will quietly eat at you either way, in the sense that you'll keep thinking about it...

If there are treatments that will slow the incursion, then I'd want to know if I should get prepared to take the treatments. If not, then it is a personal matter based on your own predilictions...

Another way to look at it is that it is pretty cool to be born and live long enough to get the disease...

Many die of cancer and other things like car wrecks and never get that far...

Fri Oct 22, 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

"Live like you were dying"... as the song goes. We all die of something, sooner or later. If you live each day to the fullest, enjoy as much of your life as you can, then what does it matter?

Go for the gusto and forget about the tests that tell you there's a possibility you might get something down the road. You might also live to be 120.

Sat Oct 23, 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Yvonne Osborne said...

No, I would not want to know. No NO NO. You might also step in a groundhog hole and break your leg and die unattended in an open field. Why worry about what might happen? I already walk into a room and wonder what I'm looking for, retrace my steps and start over and then it comes to me.

Tue Oct 26, 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I appreciate your varied points of view. I do.

My sister and I talked this over just the other day. She's emphatic in wanting not to know.

Me?

I dunno.

Thu Oct 28, 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Woman in a Window said...

Just discussing this over eggs and coffee this morning. And if your fluid said, yes, then what would that mean for your fate? Perhaps you'll die tomorrow. Perhaps two weeks from now. Perhaps it wouldn't hit until you were 85, and what of the anxiety between now and then? I think it would only matter if there was an intervention, only then would it matter, to know. Only then could you act on it.

It is our fate to live and die. How will we live inbetween? If we're lucky we will get old and our minds will be less sharp then , most likely, anyhow. (I realize alzheimer's is something different.) But how do we plan for that which is unplannable? And unstoppable? Other than to die itself.

xo
erin

Fri Oct 29, 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

Just live your life. Live every day of your life and enjoy every speck of beauty that crosses your path.

Thu Nov 04, 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger naomi said...

Dear Jonas,

It is a frightening thought to know that this disease maybe in your future. I have only this to offer.

My husband, Dan, had cancer most of our married life. Looking back, I believe it a blessing that we did not know. It would have been a dark cloud over our lives. We, in our ignorance, didn't wait to do things until retirement. There were times I thought that we were being foolish. Now, I know it was a wisdom.

Live your life, my dear friend. Knowing will not bring you peace. It is not a pleasant thing to live in the shadows of doom.

Good to be able to read your words again.

Shadowlands

Fri Nov 05, 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I appreciate receiving your thoughts and counsel, Erin and Anna.

I'm delighted you dropped by, Ms. Shadowlands. I hope you are faring well.

I'm heading out the door soon...to do a bit o' livin'.

Fri Nov 19, 12:45:00 PM  

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