Skip to main content

Imagine the possibilities

I had to take my son for blood work this morning, at the urging of every doctor we've seen over the last month, to rule out his inheritance of the wacky lipid disorders and diabetes that his father has (and which all run rampant on his father's side of the family). Anyone who has held their child while a stranger sticks a giant needle in his/her arm know that this is horrendous. Sweet Boy was a trooper, though. Sure he cried, but he stayed still, rubbing his cheek against my cheek and sobbing, trying to sing along to "You Are My Sunshine" with me. I'm tearing up just writing this -- it was not fun.

Even more unfun than the blood draw, however, is the sickening, maddening, evil voice in the back of my brain that keeps whispering "Your baby has diabetes...your baby has diabetes..." He has no symptoms of diabetes, mind you, just these crappy genetics, so my rational brain keeps kicking the bad little voice in the crotch and telling it to shut the hell up. After all, 50% of his genes come from my side of the family -- the side that lives to be in their 90s chopping wood in the Maine winter -- but also the side that carries various cancers and heart disease and, oh yeah, diabetes. Shit.

A couple of years ago, I heard something in a radio news story that I cling to even now: By the time our children are in their 30s, they will not have to worry about cancer. This is how fast medical technology goes, even in an era of legislation that tries to stop it in its tracks. Isn't that awesome? Imagine it: Our children might birth their children in a world in which things like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are merely items in textbooks. Kinda like chicken pox is now...remember chicken pox? We all had it, and probably have the scars to prove it. But thanks to modern medicine and vaccinations, our kids don't have to even think about that itchy, scabbing rash.

The cover story on this week's Time magazine centers on the scientists who have made breakthroughs in stem cell research over the last few years -- in the last few months! -- and offers great hope for those of us whose loved ones suffer from diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimers, and yes, even the Big C, cancer. I am amazed at what's possible, from treating a disease that's already in existence to discovering how a genetic disease starts in order to find a vaccine or cure. It's awesome, truly.

What's most interesting is that scientists have discovered a way to use any cell -- not just embryonic stem cells -- to move this technology forward. So in a way, as much as I hate to even utter these words, W's 2001 legislation that banned federal funding for embryonic stem cell research may have actually pushed the science toward an even bigger breakthrough. (Hmph, she mutters under her breath, he's still a monkey-faced boob!)

There's hope, people, regardless of what today's blood work shows. Always hope.


Popular posts from this blog

Grace happens

Today Honey's roommate in room 364 at Maine Medical Center was discharged. Some other day I'll tell you about why Honey is in the hospital again, but this story is about the roommate because it's way more interesting. Let's call him Elton, because all I really know about him is he plays guitar in an Elton John tribute band and he's originally from the very northern part of England, bordering Scotland. (Or as Honey described it, "that place in England where the Roman Empire decided, nope, those Celts are crazy, and put up a wall.")

Elton was in room 364 before Honey arrived, and what struck me immediately, besides his delightful accent and soothing Liam-Neeson-esque voice, was his gentle, good-natured manner. He was going through heck from a botched surgery and compartment syndrome - pain and gore and fear of losing the use of his dominant hand - yet he spoke kindly and softly to every person who came into his room. Every time a nurse walked in, Elton gree…

Math lessons

I was really great at school as a kid...but I'm really lousy at school as a parent. And I was reminded once again of this while sitting at my son's conference yesterday.

Seventh grade has been hard on all of us. Beyond the obvious physical changes -- Happy has grown at least 5" since this summer and now looks me in the eye (yeah, remember I'm super tall!), his voice is weird, he can't get out of his own way -- we're all trying to navigate his ever-changing need for independence. His teachers want him to take more responsibility for his learning, which in theory sounds like a great plan for all kids at this age; they have to not only learn how to learn but also learn how to advocate for their learning.

In reality, though, when you're the world's most laid-back 12-almost-13-year-old who really only wants to listen to music, play drums, video games, and action figures, taking responsibility and advocating for your learning is not highest priority. In fact…

Happy curls?

I dreaded the passing of the peace each Sunday when I was a little girl. Every week the old church ladies would comment about my hair...
    "Shirley Temple curls!" they cooed; I didn't know who Shirley Temple was.
    "So soft!" they petted; I didn't want their wrinkly, gnarled fingers on my head.
    "I pay a lot of money to have hair like yours!" they exclaimed; I couldn't figure out why anyone would pay money for frizzy, fluffy, brillo-pad hair.

I hated my curls. I felt embarrassed by my hair -- it was short, kinky, cut badly -- quite different from the long straight hair my friends all wore at the time in my life when I just wanted to fit in. Oh, how I wanted a ponytail! Or a braid my hair on a Sunday morning with ribbons hanging down, that was a dream.

Today during the passing of the peace, I found myself next to one of the older ladies in our church. Every week I marvel at her elegance, the way the dresses, the slow and grace…