Today is the day. The vampire (aka phlebotomist) will be here at the house in just over two hours to draw my blood and ship it to Maryland for genetic testing. In four or five months, we should know the results. The neurologist explained that even a negative result does not mean I do not have a genetic dystonia (I do), but only so many genes can be mapped with our current technology. As this potentially big moment comes, I want to share a few thoughts:
They’ll get the blood from my hand.
The bend of my arm almost never works. It’s not uncommon to tell the vampire she needs to go down to my hand and for her to say, “No, sir. I can get it from here – your veins are excellent and I know what I’m doing.” Well, after being poked four or five times, she generally decides that I might be right and my hand might be the place from whence to get the blood. I’ve started being adamant: You get it from the hand or you don’t get it.
No, not about getting the blood drawn. About the results. Will we learn anything from this? Will the results show something I really don’t want to know? Will we learn that my boys almost certainly have been cursed with the same problem? My brothers? My nieces and nephew?
Can we treat this?
That’s the million dollar question. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a fantastic bet in some types of dystonia, and, in other types, the surgery is a wasted effort. We’re hopeful that the results will demonstrate brain surgery will help, and I kindly ask that you pray for that result. But, if we get inconclusive results, we’re gonna try DBS; it’s better than doing nothing.
My “career” is at stake.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t like thinking about preaching as a career, but that’s kinda beside the point. I have a reputable attorney (not one of those TV crooks) who is filing a disability claim for me, but I’d rather resume preaching full-time. Today’s test could tell us whether or not that’s possible.
What else may be coming down the pike?
They’re going to map as much of my genetic material as possible. That means I could know about heart disease or diabetes or colon cancer or prostate cancer or other scourges which have afflicted my family. My knowledge of such genes is purely voluntary, but, as of right now, I want to know. As G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”
I’m thankful to live in the industrial world.
I love Civil War history, and my 3rd great-grandfather fought in the Kentucky Cavalry. As he helped defend the Confederate salt mine in Saltville, Virginia (just a couple hours from where I live), he was captured by the Yankees and spent considerable time in an Ohio prison camp. I wonder if he might have had my form of dystonia, and, if so, what life might have been like for him. My grandfather, who himself suffered mobility issues, was drafted in the Korean Conflict and told of painful days after receiving his special telegram –which he showed me on more than one occasion – from General-turned-President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
I wonder what life was like for those in the days of Christ (had the gene even mutated that many years ago?). What would life be like if I were living in Africa? What if I were in a country with socialized medicine and had to wait years and years simply to have the test, let alone treatment?
I’m blessed. I live in a nation with superb medical care. I live in the 21st century when technologies are available to help.
Do I really want a cure?
I seriously doubt that I want a cure. Treatment, yes. Cure, no. Because I suffer from a genetic disorder, the likelihood of a cure is small. However, if a cure does come, it will possibly be the result of embryonic stem cell research (there are other kinds of stem cells). A cure from embryonic stem cells would be morally unacceptable. Even were treatment developed, I could not participate.
The guy coming called while I was writing this. He’ll be here shortly. We’re praying for answers. But, even if answers do not come, God is still good and He still reigns. He’ll continue to walk with me in the future as He has walked with me in the past.