Apologizing to younger generations for the faulty genes they’ve inherited has been a longstanding tradition in my family. To my dismay and eventual resigned indifference, I followed in the footsteps of at least 3 generations – my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother – by apologizing to my own child for unwittingly dooming him. Because our genes suck, you see. They just do. And I chose to procreate before I knew any better.
Now that 23andme exists, I have scientific proof that all these wacky women in my maternal line, myself included, were right to worry. We do have some fucked up genes. No wonder our family’s been plagued with cancers and rare blood diseases and asthma and allergies and eczema and the like. No wonder I became chemically sensitive. No wonder I don’t process drugs well. I’m practically a genetic mutant.
Adding to the problem, it’s not like our world is becoming less toxic. On the contrary, our food supply and our air quality have declined significantly over the years. Bad news for genetically compromised people such as myself.
I also recently learned that children inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mothers, which is important for health. (Yes, I’m 37 and just learned this. What do you want from me? I’m not a goddamn biologist.) Well, since my mitochondrial DNA sucks, my son’s probably does, too. For christ’s sake, my mother was right…again. “I just had no business having kids,” she’s said on more than one occasion. I’ve always reassured her that I’d rather be alive with problems than stuck somewhere in the ether, all formless and shit. Well, I didn’t say it quite like that. But I conveyed my desire to live, potential genetic fuckery and all.
After Cipro, and MCS, and ailment after ailment, I’m not so sure. I mean, I’m stuck here. I’m not going anywhere, because fuck it – I’m already here and I can’t leave my kid. But I don’t necessarily WANT to be here anymore, especially facing potential decades of fruitlessly chasing good health. I’m already so tired, and this is no way to live.
When I’ve apologized to my son in the past, he’s reassured me in the same way I reassured my own mom, even though he’s experienced more sickness at a younger age than any of us have. (I, at least, had a somewhat healthy childhood. As far as I know, my mom and grandma did, too.) “I’d rather have these problems than not be alive,” he’s said. But I know he doesn’t understand the full scope of what might await him.
Eventually I decided to stop apologizing to my son for fucking him up. One, it’s kind of dysfunctional to voice those regrets aloud. No need to repeat the patterns of my elders if I can help it. Two, I don’t have to say every thought that enters my mind. Just shut the hell up sometimes. Three, I don’t want him to grow up thinking his genes are a time bomb waiting to ruin his life. I don’t want to instill this underlying fear into his subconscious mind.
That said, I also don’t want him to take Fluoroquinolones or consistently expose himself to chemicals, because like it or not, he IS genetically susceptible to developing MCS and reacting to Fluoroquinolones. And no one looking at these health conditions from the outside can remotely fathom the hell they bring, or the havoc they wreak. There has to be a way to impart a healthy sense of awareness and caution without poisoning him with fear.
Then again, it’s probably too late. Much like procreating before I realized my genes were bad, I also apologized for his genes before I realized his subconscious mind was a sponge soaking up my well-intentioned but dysfunctional worry. So now I’m not just sorry for his genes, I’m sorry for apologizing for them during his formative years. (Geez, how else am I unwittingly fucking up my child?)
I no longer apologize for my son’s genes, but that doesn’t mean I worry any less about his future health. Staying true to my family traditions, my brain has been flooded with advice I would give him if the advice weren’t totally fucked up and alarmist. Like, maybe he should use 23andme into to find a wife eventually. You know, pick someone with good genes in case he gets sick later in life. She can produce healthy kids who can help take care of him. Side note: will something like that be the future of dating? Not just checking people for STDs, but checking for genetic mutations? God, what a terrible idea. Told you my brain is out of control.
Also, I think he should go to college and major in something that will immediately land him a high paying job. Then he should live in a one bedroom apartment and save all his money for years in case he gets sick. And he should also try to marry someone who is financially stable. No, money can’t necessary heal an illness, but it can at least eliminate a portion of a person’s stress. It’s really awful to be sick and financially strained at the same time.
Don’t fret, I’m not going to actually suggest these things to my child. I know our biochemistry is impossibly complex, and that shitty genes do not necessarily doom a person to terrible diseases and a lifetime of illness. The point I’m skirting around in this ridiculous post is that I’m sick of being sick and worrying about being sick, and worrying about my son’s future in this shitty, poisoned world.
That’s all. No big deal.
Also, tomorrow I’m going to an ENT because my left ear is stuffy, and full, and ringing, and has been for a month. I can’t hear well, I feel disoriented, my glands hurt but I have no infection, and I don’t know if any of this is an ear problem or a TMJ problem or something even more sinister. All of this is really bumming me out today. At one point my thoughts turned to 23andme, and how I’m too tired to figure out how to deal with my mutations, and how a part of me just doesn’t even fucking care enough to try to fix anything anymore. I also do not want to get on this doctor merry go round again, but I have to figure out WTF is going on here. Did I mention my fingers and the side of my head feel numb sometimes? And that some kind of weird cognitive difficulty is going on? Well, it is.
Also, I’m just as afraid of the doctor telling me nothing is wrong as I am of hearing bad news. Because clearly something IS wrong – I’m just so used to being dismissed that in spite of these obvious problems I’m afraid of some guy in a white coat telling me it’s all in my head. Hey, asshole? It is in my head – my left ear, specifically. Fucking diagnose me.
And now my PTSD is kicking in. I swear, just when I think life is relatively normal, some shit like this happens. Fuck off, life. Seriously.
Whelp, this post sure devolved into a pile of shit, didn’t it?
Oh, well. Better luck next time. Tomorrow is a new day, and all that crap. Insert additional inspirational cliche here – I’m all out.
UPDATE, because I’m too tired to write a new post:
The ENT thinks my problems are TMJ-related, and that my ear fullness and hearing loss are due to residue left by the ear drops I used a few weeks ago. Gross. I guess it’s time to resume the dental work I’ve been putting off. I took a break because I can barely afford the payments. Treating TMJ is also expensive, so fuck that, too.