Genetics: Update on Tim's Health

I have always found it interesting that the intake forms at doctors' offices ask so much about the patients' family medical history. While I knew that I would have a tendency to experience many of the health issues that my ancestors faced, I thought that many of the medical problems that they faced were due to poor health choices or environmental toxins.

 Our family after celebrating Thanksgiving

Our family after celebrating Thanksgiving

Overcoming genetics

Throughout my life, I've heard a lot of emphasis put on the role that genetics plays in our health, length of life, physical ability, quality of life, etc. I knew that genetics played some role, but I believed that I could overcome any possible negative aspects of my family's health history through eating well, getting lots of exercise, fighting bad stress, getting good sleep, not smoking, not drinking, etc.

Back in April, I wrote about how I almost died due to a DVT (deep vein thrombosis or deep vein blood clot) that formed in my right calf then broke apart and peppered both of my lungs. That condition is called pulmonary embolism. It's dangerous because it can block the blood flow to our lungs and starve our body of oxygen. It's so dangerous that around 70% of the people diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism are diagnosed on the autopsy table.

Another DVT?!

Later, in July, I wrote about how I'm trying to prevent further DVTs. I had been walking a couple of miles per day, and, one day, I forgot my shoes at home so decided just to walk wearing my sandals. During this walk, I pulled a muscle in my calf and, several days later, another DVT formed -- this time in my left calf. I suspected that I had another DVT when I noticed swelling in my ankle that wasn't associated with a sprain or other injury. I had been off of my blood thinner medicine for about 3 weeks and had continued doing the things that I thought would prevent a clot.

I went to the ER and the doctor that saw me confirmed that I did, in fact, have a small DVT in my left calf and prescribed the blood thinning medicine that I had been on before. Prior to leaving the hospital, I asked that they draw additional labs to test me for any genetic disorders that may be contributing to my body's clotting issues.

Genetics bit me

Over the course of about a month, I had multiple labs drawn, had a consultation with a hematologist, and visited my doctor multiple times in an effort to get to the bottom of my clotting issues. It turns out that I have 2 genetic disorders that are most likely causing my blood to clot prematurely -- [Factor V Leiden][0] and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, or [MTHFR][1].

People can have either of these genetic disorders and live long, healthy lives and many times not even know that they have them. According to my doctor, our bodies can usually handle one genetic mutation without any issues. When we have multiple mutations, though, our bodies have a more difficult time coping -- particularly if they affect the same system. Both Factor V Leiden and MTHRF affect the circulatory system. My condition is treatable, thankfully, with a vitamin supplement and anti-coagulant (blood thinner).

I thought that I was tough

After receiving the news that I had multiple genetic disorders, I was shocked to say the least. I always thought of myself as a strong, healthy man. I think that I've accepted that I'm not invincible, but I've always tried to be mentally and emotionally strong and spiritually healthy so that I could be strong for myself and others -- so that I could be a warrior. Now, I'm faced with the fact that I'm not so strong and have a flaw that could easily lead to my dying at a young age. I'm broken.

We're broken

We're all broken, though, aren't we? That's a humbling thought -- that we're broken and need help, but I believe that it's true in multiple aspects. We need help because our bodies AND our souls are fatally flawed. But, praise be to God that He has made a way for BOTH our bodies and our souls to be made whole!

Our soul is broken

God's Word is very clear that all are in need of God's saving work. Why? Because God has commanded that we obey His commands. Most people consider themselves to be good people, but, when we examine ourselves by God's perfect standard, we're guilty of breaking His law. Because of our guilt, we deserve God's judgement, but God has made a way for us to avoid His eternal judgement through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ never sinned, but God's Word says that He took on the sins of His people and paid for them on the cross! Amazing right? All that God requires of us is that we repent (turn) from our sins and trust in God's promises, goodness, and His righteousness for our eternal salvation.

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What about my children?

When I found out that my blood clots were being caused by genetic disorders, I was very concerned about my children and their health. I felt bad that, since I'm their dad, they may have the same genetic issues that I have. I felt bad that I may have passed on my health problems to them. As I thought and prayed about this, though, I started to realize that I they have inherited something far worse from me than genetic disorders. They have inherited their sin nature from me. Genetic disorders can kill their bodies, but their sins deserve God's wrath that can destroy their soul. Though our bodies are wonderful and "fearfully and wonderfully made," our souls are infinitely more valuable than our bodies. My children's souls are precious. We must remember to care for the soul as much if not more than we care for the body.

Our bodies are broken

Not only are our souls broken and in need of God's redemption -- our bodies are broken too. When Adam and Eve sinned, the curse of sin came on all of God's creation including our bodies. The effects are everywhere, but they're so obvious when we examine our bodies aren't they? Our modern bodies are plagued with aches, pains, cancer, heart attacks, etc. We really have to work at maintaining good health -- it seems sometimes like everything is working against us to destroy our bodies.

All of the toxins that we're exposed to that damage our bodies can have an effect even on our children and generations to come because of damage inflicted on the genetic level -- like my genetic disorders. It turns out that both of the genetic disorders that I have are not all that uncommon, but different environmental and biological factors can cause our bodies to react differently to any disorders that we may have.

A new body

But, just like the hope that we have in God that He can take care of our soul problem, He can also take care of our body problem too. In God's Word, He tells us that, in heaven, we'll receive new, eternal bodies that are not ravaged with the effects of sin. Won't that be nice? Imagine how sin has affected humanity for generations -- our genetic makeup has been bombarded with toxins for thousands of years. It's really a wonder that we're not more sickly than we are! But in heaven, we'll have bodies that haven't been and won't be bombarded with toxins any more. I'm looking forward to that!

Seek God

If God has shown you that you're in need of His salvation but you know that you're still not right with Him, let me encourage you to seek God. And keep seeking Him until you know that He's saved your soul. He tells us in Proverbs 8:17, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me." Also, we find in Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Is your heart broken? Do you feel the burden of your sins weighing on your shoulders? God will take care of your burden and tells us that His "burden is light" -- not like the heavy burden of our sins.

Question

Has there ever been a moment in your life when you realized that your body was broken like mine? More importantly, have you ever come to the realization that your soul is fatally flawed and in need of God's mercy? If so, how did that change you?

[0]: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/factor-v-leiden/basics/definition/con-20032637 "Mayo Clinic's discussion of Factor V Leiden [1]: https://draxe.com/mthfr-mutation/ "Dr. Axe's discussion of MTHFR