This past week, I was struck by two separate incidents that highlighted the need for family members to talk to each other. One particular story involves a friend and colleague, in her 40's, who after experiencing symptoms for weeks, finally relented and visited her primary care physician. After an examination and a thorough history, and many responses of "I don't know" and "Not sure about that one," my colleague thought that perhaps it was time to have "the talk" (no, not THAT talk) with her mother.
What she found out was that yes, there IS a family history of headaches in her family, especially among the women. In fact, her mother commented that “Grandmom had what we called ‘sick headaches’ that would keep her out of work.” And even when my colleague talked with her sister, just two years her junior, she learned that her sister carries Excedrin Migraine in her purse ‘just in case.’
This information would have been very important for her to know as she began experiencing debilitating headaches, new to her (but apparently not to her sister, mother or grandmother) and painful and severe enough to cause her to see a physician.
I know there may be plenty of family secrets, but don’t let your family’s healthcare history be part of them!