Thursday, May 8, 2008

For The Love Of Family

Recently I had a discussion with a friend who wondered if my sister was going to be tested for Lupus.

This wasn’t the first time I had considered this, but someone else asking the question really got me to thinking.

Should my sister be tested?

Would doing so spare her the pain and agony that I’ve been through over the past year?

There are several realities here:

1) I don’t just have Lupus and until the slate is wiped clean of the diagnosis of Multiple Connective Tissue Diseases, there really is no definitive about what I actually have.
2) There is no cure for most of these diseases at present, and finding out would only cause undo worry, especially since “normal” people can test positive for some of these tests.
3) With no cure and no symptoms, the tests would pretty much mean very little – and one could think they are developing symptoms, even if they are not – just because they are told that they might.

At the age of 13, I honestly think that just the experience of having the tests would be traumatic enough for my sister, regardless of the results.

At first, part of me was really torn, though.

What if I could prevent pain and suffering to someone in my family? But the truth is, unless I find a cure for Lupus, or Rheumatoid Arthritis, or the host of other autoimmune diseases that I may, by association, have, there really is nothing I can do. And if testing would cause pain and suffering, what’s the point?

Now I’m not suggesting that should my sister or anyone I know start displaying symptoms that would suggest they have one of these disease, that I wouldn’t advocate them going to their doctor.

But am I suggesting that anyone who has a 10% increased risk be tested as a prophylactic measure? Absolutely not. Because in this case, it isn’t really prophylactic, is it?

If you ask me, it’s just plain stupid. It’s asking for trouble and digging up dirt that should otherwise be left untouched. Unless, of course, there is something to suggest necessity.

Which, if you ask me, there isn’t at the present moment.

Rather than think that this is something that is going to muddle up my gene pool for generations, I’d like to think that in the autoimmune contest, I simply picked the short end of the stick.

The moral of this story is that there are no guarantees in life.

Just because I have these diseases does not guarantee that my sister is going to get them.

I can sit and question why I, an otherwise healthy person, was struck by a disease that survives by wreaking havoc on the body, and why it wasn’t Joe Blow sitting next to me, instead.

Or I can think that I’m lucky because I have good doctors and that with the right medication, hopefully this will only make me a stronger person and be a positive aspect of my life rather than a defining factor in that it becomes the only part of who I am.

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