Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Family Medical History

It's time for a talk.  A talk about your family medical history.  

Let me ask you a question....you research your family history, right?  Are you a beginner, advanced or somewhere in between?  I have worked hard on researching my family history.  I bet you have as well.  Family history/genealogy is not easy by any means.  If you are like me, then you have names along with dates of birth, marriages and deaths in your head.  I have talked to some people who do genealogy, and they can recite their 4x great-grandparents information ( everything ) perfectly, yet cannot remember their own wedding anniversary date.  I remember growing up and my parents calling or trying to yell at me, but calling me by one of my sister's name.  Or my parents would be saying something while looking at me and kinda stammer with my name, like they couldn't remember it.  I swore that I would never, ever do that to my kids.  I hate to admit it, but I have done the same thing with my boys.  ( Don't hate, a lot of people do it! )

Now, let me ask you another question.  Have you done a family medical history?  A what?  Have you ever even heard of a family medical history, other than at your doctor's office?  Well, then let me tell you!

My oldest son called me today.  ( Yay, good son! )  He asked if I had a family medical history.  Now, if you know my son, that is asking a lot!!  He is always making comments and giving me grief about me doing family history/genealogy research.  When I say something about finding an ancestor on Find-A-Grave, he will say "leave those poor dead people alone" or "there she goes again".  LoL  So for him to call me and ask me that question, well something is up.  He told me that his youngest daughter's ( my granddaughter ) doctor needed it, I about freaked out.  Why would her doctor need a family medical history.  She is 5 years old, and in good health.  My son told me that she has had 3 mini strokes in 5 days, one on Friday, one Monday and one today!  Not good!  I told him that I did have a family medical history and that I would need to find where I put it, and would get him the information in the morning.    

A family medical history is important for several reasons.  1) for your own health - if you are aware of diseases that run in your family, that gives you a heads up on your future health.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer runs in families.  2) for your doctor - this will allow the doctor to see anything from your family history that may affect you and/or your family.  

According to the Mayo Clinic:  Your doctor might use your family medical history to:
  • Assess your risk of certain diseases
  • Recommend treatments or changes in diet or other lifestyle habits to reduce the risk of disease
  • Determine which diagnostic tests to order
  • Determine the type and frequency of screening tests
  • Determine whether you or family members should get a specific genetic test
  • Identify a condition that might not otherwise be considered
  • Identify other family members who are at risk of developing a certain disease
  • Assess your risk of passing conditions on to your children
Thankfully, I did a family medical history about 10-15 years ago.  Once I do find it, I will definitely be up-dating it!  

So, please do your self and your family a favor and make yourself a family medical history today!!   I created mine in a spreadsheet.  This is what my headings look like:


I list a name and will show m-g for maternal grandmother or p-2gg for paternal 2x great-grandfather, etc.

On another spreadsheet I have:



with the row continuing with:


With this spreadsheet I will list a name and put an "x" in the column that affects that person.  Again, here I will show m-g for maternal grandmother or p-2gg for paternal 2x great-grandfather, etc.  In the "OTHER CANCER" column above I will put the type of cancer a person had; pancreatic, lung, kidney, etc.  The list I use above is just a sample of diseases that affect my family.  You can use whatever affects your family. You can customize these charts anyway you like.  You can color code names, a certain color for paternal and another color for maternal.    The most important thing to remember is get the information and record it!

How do you get the family medical history information?  Ask!  Ask your immediate family, ask grandparents, ask aunts and uncles.  If anyone is hesitate about giving you any medical information, explain why you are doing a family medical history, and offer to share your family medical history record with them.  Share the family medical history with everyone in your family!  Share a copy of the family medical history in the "Family Newsletter", share it at the "Family Reunion".  Just share it!  Help your family members to be aware of just how important a family medical history is.  You can also gather information from death records of your family.  Generally, a death certificate will list a cause of death, and sometimes will list a secondary cause of death.  

Be pro-active about your health.  Know what your family medical history is!


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