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Astigmatism Case - Hereditary Diseases Project

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Hereditary Diseases Project


Knowing your family health history is a powerful guide to understanding risk for disease, says the worksheet on the Connect homework. I grew up in Ukraine, a country in so many ways different than the one I live in today. I was only ten years of age when we moved but I knew even then that the culture I grew up in is not the culture that I will encounter living in the United States. My grandparents and even my parents came to this new land believing only in natural remedies, not believing in doctors. I think that that is one of the reasons why so many of us get ill with many of the diseases that could've been prevented if taken action against. Now, ten years later, with my mom working as an RN in a hospital, we are more aware of how it's very crucial to get regular check-ups and to be aware of one's family history concerning health.

I am blessed to have young and healthy grandparents: mom's parents and dad's mother. The father of my father has passed away a little over two years ago but he didn't have any disease that I'm aware of, except that he consumed a lot of alcohol and had gangrene, where the doctors had to cut off his leg. Now, my mom's father, Grandpa Ivan, is a healthy grandpa. Even though he's almost 71, he's strong and doesn't complain much about his health. The only thing that I did know he had was hypertension. Hypertension occurs when you have a high blood pressure. That may be so if you are consuming a lot of salt in your diet, if you are overly stressed or anxious, if you are obese, or you just have a family history of high blood pressure. I know that Grandpa Ivan stresses a lot, that he is overweight and he does love eating a lot of salt in his food. He does drink a lot of Coca Cola and I've been letting him know that that can be detrimental for his health but he persists on drinking it.

Grandma Alex, on the other hand, is not as strong-looking as Grandpa Ivan. She is the mother of my mom and she has five healthy daughters. One of the reasons why my grandma is fragile is because back in Ukraine she had to go through a lot of hardships in her days in order to provide for her family needs. She had to carry heavy buckets of water for drinking or bathing, had to help with building their house thus carrying heavy bricks, work in the field, and a lot of other such tiresome tasks that have affected Grandma Alex's health. She had a stroke about four years ago, but it was a minor one. This type of stroke is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or ministroke, and I remember how Grandma couldn't move her leg and arm because they were numb, how she had the "worst headache ever", and the times when she felt dizzy. Later, when a CT scan for head was done the doctor ruled out the TIA. There is no more evidence that the stroke ever happened to her but then she was diagnosed with having a tumor in the spinal chord. That was a big blow for us. The doctors got rid of the tumor and now she can walk and talk and do everything like she used to before. Of course, with age there are more and more problems with health in older people but all in all--my grandma looks young. Grandma Alex also has hypertension and I would infer that that is also due to the fact that she stresses out a lot and doesn't exercise regularly.

As of today my family consists of seven people: dad, mom, older brother, 3 younger sisters, and I. My parents look healthy on the outside but looks can be deceiving. My mom has hypertension also because it may have passed on to her from her parents or just because she is so stressed and worries a lot. Mom is like that because she came here without even knowing how to speak English, so she had to start from scratch and go up the ladder until she finally reached her goal--she became an RN not more than a year ago. That could've onset the hypertension and the fact that my grandparents have it--has added to its chance of occurring. None of us kids have it, but that still can be changed when we get older.

As mentioned earlier, mommy has hypertension while dad was born with only one kidney. I have no idea how that could've happen, but it did, and since dad doesn't like visits to the doctor---we might never know what happened to his other kidney and why. All we know is that his kidney is ½ size bigger than that of a normal kidney. That doesn't prevent him from doing everything he pleases though. Good thing, I can happily say, is that no one in my family, nor any of my grandparents, ever drank or smoked so that's not a habit that will be taken into consideration. The father of my father started drinking after all of us grandchildren were born, so I don't think that has that much influence on my health.

My older brother doesn't seem to have any complications with his health, yet, but I know that he is healthy because he works out, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and actually watches over what he eats, not like I. My three sisters and I are as healthy as a horse you might say. Even though the second youngest, Anna, had meningitis when she was only nine months old, she is well now, except that she likes to talk a lot and can be annoying (I don't think that falls under a disease category though). We don't even have allergies, nothing. The only thing that all three of us do have, but which is not evident at all, is astigmatism. My mother says that this illness may have been inherited after the Chernobyl tragedy, since we were born after the tragedy happened, but that hasn't been proven. We were born with astigmatism and it doesn't really make our lives that difficult but we have to make sure that we wear our glasses when we read books or watch TV or when it's the end of the day and our eyes cannot handle the strain anymore. The three of us wear grasses while one wears contacts. Not many are aware that they have astigmatism even though it's common. Astigmatism is a defect of vision in which the image of an object is distorted because not all the light rays come to a focus on the retina. This is usually due to irregular curvature of the cornea and/or lens, whose surface resembles part of the surface of an egg (rather than a sphere) (Dictionary of Nursing, 2008).



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