Tag Archives: medical breakthroughs

The Hurt

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Building on last week’s post, Outsmarting Getting Old, I wanted to thank you for your expressions of concerns and sharing with me your own struggles.  All paths can bring healing.  It is finding the one that works well for our own needs.

Today this little vehicle popped up next to me to my surprise!  What if I would have not seen that thingie and hit it while I was driving. Oh my the hurt, right.

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Brain Trippin’

Luke during a research study of his brain. Luke during a research study of his brain.

Did you know the bigger your head is the smarter you are? Perhaps you have heard that the more bumps you have on your skull means your IQ is flying off the charts? These were the ridiculous questions once pondered by those who studied the science of the brain. We have come so far is really an understatement. In fact it is clear our century is bringing new brain research to a whole new level.
This research does not come cheap. There are many places we can donate our money including Michael J. Fox’s Foundation or the Autism Society of America. As a brain tumor survivor and a mother of a son with autism, I am keenly aware of the essential need to cure brain diseases . It has been noted recently that one out of every six people is affected by brain disorders. The diseases of the brain touch us all which can include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Addiction and Strokes.
What would a cure mean for me? It would mean the world! I know one man in my neck of the woods who has done a tremendous amount of research on the brain. His is Paul Allen. I would highly recommend you checking out his site: http://www.alleninstitute.org/ .
I know many of us do not have the money to send off for research, but have you ever thought about donating your time or even yourself to be researched? I wanted to highlight this because if you are one of those affected by any of these medical problems, I would encourage you to participate in any research study you can. Our family has made it a practice to be involved with the research community in hope for a cure. We have done this as a family and it has been extremely gratifying. Our son Luke has been in at least 10 studies. I almost think I could call him a professional at it.
The mystery of the brain is amazing, but as I studied the brain’s general functions when I developed a large brain tumor-it made me aware of why I was having the problems I had encountered over a period of years before my tumor was diagnosed. My tumor was so large that it shifted the contents of my brain to one side. It sat on top of the motor cortex specifically the movement area of my brain that squeezed the vision, behavior, hearing and coordination centers. Here is a fascinating photo I give credit to TIME magazine that gives you a layman’s look at what part of the brain does what:
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Central Pain Syndrome

This photo was taken not long after my first brain tumor surgery.

This photo was taken not long after my first brain tumor surgery.

Having a brain tumor was the last thing on my mind (no pun intended) as I dealt with many symptoms leading up to that diagnosis. Apparently it was for the doctors too as they never entertained the thought even after carefully describing my symptoms 3 years earlier than my diagnosis. At least the initial doctor confessed he had “missed” it. I hold no animosity as a doctor that can be apologetic is better than the one who is an ass hole. You all know the type if you have had much medical treatment.
Over two years have gone by since my brain tumor was removed. In fact it is time for my annual MRI soon. I will keep you posted on the results. One of my most lasting and chronic problems I seem to present with these days is called central pain syndrome. It is one of several issues I have going on, but this one is tricky. Treatment for this is difficult. In fact the treatment can be worse than the pain. There is no cure. I hope to share more with you all as I can. I have some tough days and my focus is limited when I do not feel good. I take each moment and am thankful when I am not hurting.
I wanted to share with my readers a very important thing about the brain. Our brain is a vascular organ. If you can imagine your brain as a river with many creeks running through with purposeful directions than you have an idea how important all the blood vessels are in our head. No one knows for sure the cause and effect of certain disease processes that coexist and what may have to happen first for another disorder to occur. Much of medicine is a discovery just waiting to happen. When I had my brain tumor removed, I had a procedure called an embolectomy first than my crainiotomy the next day. It was soon after the embolectomy and being sent to the ICU that I had symptoms like a stroke patient. All the doctors like to deny that the cause of the stroke may have happened on their dime. No one knows for sure, but being a relatively young person ( ok I was in my 40’s when this happened) the most common cause of strokes is disease of the arteries in the brain. We all have heard of problems too that all of us can try to tame. One last thing readers, please work hard on those things you can change with a good doctor helping you: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and physical inactivity.

Famous Figures in my genealogy lines! Say What!

In my last blog installment, I mentioned I would divulge our famous ancestors.  The time has come for me to “spit” it out.   I must explain for those that may be reading this for the first time,  my husband conducted a research test on his DNA by offering a spit sacrifice to www.23andme.com  .  This organization is on the cutting edge of discovery for research that possibly will lead to new  cures for some of the most debilitating diseases in our lifetime including  Parkinsons and Diabetes.

Now to our famous ancestors.  The study’s results were surprising and remarkable that included  four famous people.  But before I spill the beans, I wanted to give you more information on my husband’s other haplogroup.  In my last installment, I mentioned his maternal haplogroup H13a1a1a.  The paternal (father’s side) haplogroup is R1b1b2a1.  Again for further clarification, a haplogroup is defined in general terms as being that part of the family tree of life one arises from.  I also discovered that my husband’s lines are 100% European. Also it must be noted  the haplogroup R is a widespread branch of  human life origins of the Y chromosome.  Y of course for those non- scientifically minded is the male side.  The R’s of the world seemed to appeared first in Southwest Asia and moved across  Eurasia.  I must admit this does not say much as Eurasia (Europe and Asia combined-how cute a  name by some doctor of geography) holds 73% of the population.  However the R1 group in this catagory can be traced back to farmers 10,000 years ago that shaped Europe.  It also belongs to those subgroups such as the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. In specific terms, R1b1b2a1 can be found in our current areas of Germany, Netherlands, and parts of the North Sea area close to England.

It is amazing to discover one’s roots as I hope you can see in this information.  It is also important to note how we all rose to prominance one way or another.  There are four folks that rose with my husband’s line to famous stature that may amaze you…..The names given to us are Napoleon, Prince Philip, Luke the Evangelist, and possibly my favorite Susan Sarandon..Now that woman can act!

Stay tuned for my next installment.  Peace to all and may you enjoy alittle of life’s pleasures through my diverse photography from places I have been:

Cascades Mountains WA state

Long Beach, Long Island, NY

Mt. Rushmore

Genealogy: A family affair

My family just came off a lovely vacation to Lake Chelan, Washington. My husband and sons and I enjoyed the mountains, boating, wineries, and each other. In one of the conversations that I had with my husband, I realized I was not the first genealogist in the family. Actually he was. After I have spent the last seven months studying our family lines, he reminded me of when he decided to take the leap to try to understand the story of his past.

Approximately five years ago, my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was during those early months while coming to terms with his diagnosis, he learned through Michael J. Fox ( www.michaeljfox.org) about a company that was offering genetic screening. Michael J. Fox’s Foundation is an organization that is so proactive in research that they find anyway possible to get candidates to participate in aggressive studies so that a cure can be obtained. My husband was able to take advantage of genetic testing with www.23andme.com at a reduced price because of Michael J. Fox.

The company 23andme was founded in 2006 by a couple of brilliant women that thought the study of our DNA was relevant. 23 stands for the number of pairs of chromosomes we all have. The good news is that their database now has over 150,000 folks worldwide that have used this simple test. My husband’s test is now in that bank and it is with great hope that a cure will be found for Parkinsons as well as many other disease processes.

One of the interesting extra features we have found out from being a part of this testing is that www.23andme.com has released additional information on their website for each of their members. These details are specific genealogical/ancestry compositional insights on my husband’s lines. On our vacation my husband shared this information with me. Boy , I was in for quite a treat.

The research he had which by the way was obtained by him giving 2.5 cc’s of his spit in a tube was remarkable! The results mirrored much of my research I had done and I was quite pleased by the findings. In sharing this with you, I hope it encourages you to continue in your own studies of finding yourself. Here are some of the findings and remember this is not all of them. I hope to share other findings on another blog post at some point:

1. The test established that his origins were 100% European and that this traced back several 100’s of years. In my research, we revealed my husband’s lines to be of German, Belguim and Dutch ancestry for the most part.

2. It was also determined that my husband has 515 DNA relatives in the 23andme bank with 69 of those relatives being third cousins! The other 446 are distant cousins. We are now able to make contact with them through the social networking website that has been set up if we choose to do so.

3. The test also revealed that his Neanderthal ancestry was 2.7% which puts my husband in the 68 percentile among Northern European 23andme members. My indepth studies on my husband showed some of his ancestors did not come to America until 1850, 1867 and 1913. We have to remember intercontinental travel was not so prevalent until the immigration years especially in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.

4. The study also revealed the top surnames in the family which included Yoder, Stayrock, Kauffman, Holt, and Hoover. My studies revealed a strong link with Yoders on my husband’s paternal great grandmother’s side.

5. It was also discovered a link with some Jewish origins particularly of the group called Ashkcnzai.

6. The research also indicated the particular Haplogroups he belonged to. Without being too technical, a Haplogroup is basically what major family tree in the whole scheme of humans does my husband come from. One of those groups my husband belonged to is the H13a1a1a group. The H13 part indicated a group of people who typically would stay put in the area they originated from. This H group rose to prominence during the Ice Age some 13,000 years ago!

Wow. Doesn’t this just blow your mind? I hope you enjoyed this installment from Alesiablogs and I hope you will join me again as I explore more of these findings with you. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line in the comment section. I hope this encourages you to keep discovering who you are. Although much of this is experimental, we know it is through research that new discoveries are found. Next time I will share with you what famous figures we share ancestry with. You might be surprised…See you soon!! Below are a few pictures from our recent vacation and also a glimpse of our family from a wedding photo taken over 20 years ago. Afterall this work is being done because of them and we would not be here if not for them:

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Oh the Luck of the Irish or NOT!

Installment five:

History is a funny thing. You either really like it or you don’t. I happen to really like it. Grandmother Myrtle Dunbar Jenkins and the Dunbars are who I want to introduce you to now in this installment. She was 4th generation Ulster-Scot or Scotch Irish. Census records from a rural area of Caldwell County, Kentucky places her great, great grandfather from Antrim, Ireland. The story goes that around 1825 or so when he was 12 years old he stowed away on a ship headed to South Carolina. The other version of the story is that he came with his parents and siblings. I tend to believe the second story, however, it does make for great adventure reading to think he was a stowaway!

As always, I enjoy learning all I can about who I am researching. So I picked up Notre Dame Professor Jay P. Dolans’s book The Irish Americans. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Irish-Americans-History-ebook/dp/B003RRY3TM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2 .

When I began to understand that a huge part of my roots was Irish, it became evident I needed a little history lesson. Mr. Dolan does a wonderful job of retelling the Irish American experience in such areas as faith, labor, and love and it is written in such a way that you can see why the Irish excelled at assimilating to the American experience.

My particular family was that group of Irish that were protestant. and they were farmers in rural Kentucky. As far as I can tell this particular group has not been studied as much as the Irish Catholic or the Irishman that moved to the big city. It is actually a sad story to tell in regards to events before World War II because so many of my family members died due to lack of three important medical breakthroughs. These all pretty much were the top public health achievements in America of our time. They were sanitation, vaccinations, and medications.

It was truly a miracle if a family was spared a family member dying in those days. My grandmother witnessed much sorrow and death as a child in those early days. She was one of 12 children born to William Wesley Dunbar and his two wives that happened to be sisters. My grandmother’s mother was the second sister who married William after her sister and his first wife died. Out of the 12 siblings, five of them died. All the boys died. Seven girls were left. The leading cause of death was consumption or what we know as TB. However there was death from simple things as an infection and diarrhea. It was a horrible set of circumstances that would kill off your family member back then. Below I share a picture of four of the seven girls that lived to adulthood: Bessie, Virgie, Myrtle (my grandma), and Pearl from left to right.

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To me the underlying story of The Dunbar Girls is there ability to be tough. Today everyone thinks you have got to be tenacious in our times of stressful jobs. These girls had to be strong and resilient watching people they loved around them dying. There is nothing that can compare to that in my opinion. These Irish girls became mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers because of modern changes in our health care..They could still live in rural Kentucky and finally get treatment when they needed it for these basic needs. Below you will see a photo of my grandmother who like all her siblings started a family very young. She was 16 years old when she married my grandfather Willie Jenkins:

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But at this same time as she began to raise a family- she saw her own mother die at the age of 40 from another ailment that it seems no medical doctor could explain in 1926. Below you will see a picture of her with my great grandfather and then 6 months prior to her dying.

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Why do I share such a story? In reality I had a hard time bringing myself to it, but as my husband has said I need to talk about this part of my family like I have written about other family lines. I want you to know I loved my grandparents. I came very late in their lives and in fact was one of their last grandchildren. I am very proud to say I am part Irish. Today all these 7 wonderful ladies are gone, but they all lived long lives and paved the way for their daughters and granddaughters. In this picture below I remember this being taken as the sisters were together in 1977 for the first time in 53 years on the farm they grew up on.

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I hope you will take the time and look at the stories of these women in my link below I am providing. The link is of their father and then as you read his story, you can then click into each of his children and see pictures of them..

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSvcid=280351&GRid=69217264&

And now I bid you farewell in Irish. Until my next installment: Slan!!!!