I have recently started a new endeavor in life which requires my re-entry into the world of academia. In one of my classes a very interesting question was posed for our comment; if you had the choice of testing for a genetic disorder known as Huntington’s Chorea and this genetic test would let you know with 100% certainty you would contract this disease, would you get the test? Understand Huntington’s is fatal in 100% of cases within ten years of the initial onset of symptoms. At first symptoms would include temporary changes in mood, movement and cognition leading to difficulty in balance, swallowing and voluntary motor control and finally to the loss of the ability to speak, rigidity, dystonia and eventually death. Initial onset of symptoms can happen anywhere from early twenties to late adulthood.
The questioned posed was “how would a diagnosis such as this change your life?” Obviously this is a terrifying diagnosis and one that would most definitely radically alter your life. When given a finite amount of time in which to accomplish certain life goals, it is easier to separate the important from the trivial. A prognosis such as this can greatly change attitudes and perceptions. Attitudes towards friends and family will greatly alter. Additionally, what is important also changes. Perhaps the contributions to a 401K are not as important as that once in a lifetime vacation. Time with friends and family becomes much more valuable than time at work. In other words, priorities change and realign themselves due to a change in life perspective.
As stated earlier, given the onset of Huntington ’s chorea can develop at anytime between early and late adulthood., your response to this diagnosis would greatly vary during this time frame. As a young adult, behaviors may become more reckless; whereas, as an adult in your mid thirties, depending on marital status and children, you would realign your priorities so as to produce the best possible outcome for your family as the disease progresses and after passing.
Why in the world would I pose this question to you, as a reader of our blogs? It is to start the discussion about what is really scary, important or a priority in your life. A grim prognosis such as this is a life-changing event, even before any symptoms of the disease would manifest would change the way you perceive everything. I pose to you, why does it take such an event to alter our perceptions and priorities in life? No matter what, life is finite and we will all eventually die. So in a sense, we all have a terminal prognosis. Aren’t family and friends always important? Should you not always strive to experience new and exciting things and try to pack as much life into every day that you can? My answer is most definitely YES; although, I don’t put into practice as much as I should.
I want to take this opportunity to challenge all of our readers to see life as the precious, short-lived gift that it is and live life to its fullest potential everyday. Having trouble putting this into practice? We can definitely help! Start by taking one of our Battle Ready fitness classes. It will challenge you both mentally and physically. Let us take you out of your comfort zone and challenge you with a rock climbing, swift water or wilderness survival course; but whatever you do, live everyday like it you mean it.