Family | Medical | History

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original photo by Samuel Zeller

The technician was equally as warm — comfortingly so. It made me wish my wife had her for the many scans she endured during her pregnancy. Cold, robotic, don’t-sue-us-because-I-said-the-wrong-thing types are what she got instead.

To cut to the chase: Don’t worry, the doctor has already called and said my baby was fine. By “baby” I mean the little fatty we call my liver.

My results from routine blood tests last month raised a red flag in regards to little Livy. Seeing as how I am not a big drinker and seemingly healthy otherwise, the doctor ordered a full scan of my abdomen to take a medical peek and metaphorical poke around inside me.

Exam: Ultrasound abdomen complete. Pancreas: homogenous. Aorta: no aneurysm. IVC: patent. Kidneys: normal size, no obstruction. Spleen: 9cm. Common bile duct: 3.7mm. Gallbladder: no gallstones or wall thickening.

Livy is 14cm — roughly the size of a sweet potato (or candy apple stick, if appropriating from my diet). Diet is probably the culprit for the abnormal liver function, test results indicated. Carbs and sweets, according to doc, may be the contributing factor. Maybe my covetable metabolism has peaked.

The doctor has ordered another blood test that I’m to get in a couple weeks to see if the results prove different.

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En route to my 1st physical with a new doctor to establish care, I did the math. I was now = ½ the age of my father when he died.

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The nurse who took my vitals said my blood pressure was great but noticed my heartbeat was a little elevated. “Maybe I’m nervous about trying to remember my entire family medical history and not leave anything out.”

Generally in good health and shape (minus the usual signs of aging), I am not one who gets sick easily. Nor have I broken bones or suffered major medical mishaps in my life. (Outside a few stitches on my eyebrow from a doorknob to the head as a kid.)

My father, however, had heart issues (had a pacemaker put in). He had a few bouts with cancer (colon, prostate) and a brain tumor. And he had an admirable head of hair. Hoping for the heredity solely on the latter.

There’s only some comfort in the numbers:

  • About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. … About 1 in 39 men will die of prostate cancer… Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.¹ [For now, I’m good on this front.]
  • About 1 in 21 men will develop colorectal cancer in his lifetime (1 in 23 for women). Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in American men and women.² [GI consult: scheduled, colonoscopy: likely]
  • About 1 in 140 men (1 in 180 women) will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his lifetime.³

[Insert your own public service announcement for early screening tests + regular check-ups here]

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Exhaling all the overwhelmingly medical and morbidly mathematical away, I’d like to turn my thoughts elsewhere. Towards just some of the numbers my father accomplished by my age. His ½-way mark.

2 weeks away from his birthday, my father was likely “enjoying” the start of my mother’s 3rd trimester. This would be his 4th child*, but his 1st daughter with my mother. (He had 3 kids2 girls+1 boy — by 3 other women — don’t hate the player.)

After leaving Cuba, his homeland of more than 2 decades, he met my mother—a woman 21 years his minor—and made a new home here in the United States. He would go on to father 4 children by her (2 daughters and 2 sons).

Later in life, he would move out of the 2-bedroom apartment where he raised his kids and into a 2-family house. His family would now be under the same roof as his kids’ 1 grandmother, 3 aunts and 1 uncle. Some time soon, that 1st daughter from my mom would have 4 kids of her own here (again 2 girls and 2 boys). It would also be home to about 6 dogs, 4 cats and 1 turtle over the course of their near 2 decades they lived there.

His legacy would include 10 more children by his 7 children. (And so far: 5 children, his great-grandkids, by their children.) He would also watch his 2 siblings4 children grow to adulthood and have kids of their own.

So, yes, I may be near my own ½-way mark of my life (if luck and medical science allows). But, if my father’s second ½ is any indication of the history (family and otherwise) I’m about to make myself, I look forward to those results.

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Cited sources/ resources:
¹ cancer.org/prostate-cancer/stats
²
cancer.org/colon-rectal-cancer/stats
³
cancer.org/brain-spinal-cord-tumors/stats

Writer-Artist ✍ Contact: ernio.com →in New Yorker: http://bit.ly/NYernio Find @ernio_art →on Instagram: http://bit.ly/eh-art License →via CartoonCollections.com

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