ISO Long Lost Relatives

This is not an affiliate post!  I paid for my own test with AncestryDNA.com and was not compensated or even asked to leave a review in any way.  The opinions on this blog post do not reflect the views of Ancestry.com and are exclusively my own.

Legalities out of the way, my husband and I did our DNA profiles with Ancestry.  Yup, despite the fear that now they will keep our DNA and sell it to third party companies that would track us from now on (no research for this, just my usual paranoia), we spit into the little tubes, shook it up and mailed it in.

And the results are in!

I did mine to try to find more info about my family.  I was hoping to find matches on my dad’s side of the family.  My dad and I don’t have a lot of information there – my grandfather left from Venezuela to Germany sometime around 1966.  My grandmother kept her maiden name, and came from Prussia – whether the polish or the German side of it, who knows?  Enough world wars have changed the landscape of Eastern Europe.

 

IMG_1279.jpg

Possibly my grandfather?? Who knows!

I have pictures of my grandma as a nurse, and bike riding through Europe as a young woman fresh out of school.  I also have pictures of her exploring Venezuela, and some colored photographs of her in Bali.  I know she visited a relative in Australia and had a friend in New York City.  I know she had brothers because I remember seeing the sepia-colored photographs of young men in uniform.  But I don’t really know anything about her!

 

So I was hoping to find more on Else Karalus or Hans Heimig, and see if there are any second cousins anywhere?  Any pictures or connections to a “home land”?  And this was probably fueled by the realization that my homeland is destroyed.  I will never, ever be able to take my husband and children to Venezuela and show them my grandmother’s grave, or my childhood neighborhood.  They’ll never know what it’s like to visit the falls, or the Andes, or the Amazonian basin.  And that grieves me.

My mom and I spent some time researching her side of the family and found out that her paternal grandparents were European Jews that came to Venezuela seeking refuge.  News to both of us!  And I’m thankful I met my great grandmother, and have pictures with her, and she walked me to school, because there isn’t much in the way of documents on an orphan ex-slave.  But it’s ok, cuz I knew her.  Till her dying day.

Anyhow, it’s a very difficult feeling to explain; you are always an immigrant, but you never have a country to go back to.  And you are adapted to the United States, well versed in politics, geography, and history – but it’s never “home”.  It always feels like you know this information as an outsider looking in.  Somehow I went on the search for a “home country”, one maybe in Eastern Europe I could hope to visit and learn about one day in replacement of the one I lost.

IMG_1259.jpg

I’m such a mutt I’m a child of the world!!

East Europe – my paternal side,  Prussia, explains this perfectly.  Native Americans – I’m sure that’s indigenous to Venezuela, like the Yanomami.  These two things make up half of the genetic pool that is me.

Then it’s a smorgasbord of ancient history and migration patterns.  Vikings that sailed all over the Baltic sea and established themselves in parts of Russia and the Iberian peninsula.  Spaniards, conquered by Romans and then Muslims.  Celts that fled from the Roman invasion in Britain.  African slaves from Senegal and Mali, brought on Spanish ships to Venezuela after Columbus’ ill arrival.  Aside from Southern Europe and Ireland, it’s dashes of spice from people that moved and were moved, conquered and were conquered, all somehow ending up in the northernmost part of South America to make me.

And somehow, unexplainably, a pinch of Melanesian (Papa New Guinea/Australian Aboriginal).  I’m sure that one made an interesting story some years back…

But this comforted me because it gave me a lot of places to call “home”.  A lot more history to learn, genealogies to look up, and hopefully once my kids all graduate – places to visit!  I was never meant to belong to any one geographical place here on earth.  I’ve always been a traveler passing through, with my citizenship in Heaven.  Then I’ll feel like I’m truly home.  Until then, I’ll keep searching for family members.

Do you have interesting lineages or family histories?  Share below!

 

 

The Problem With Women’s Health…

For the past few months I’ve been recovering from a hysterectomy that came about after an IUD pierced my uterine wall and decided to float around in my abdomen.

Fun times… not.

So let’s start at the top.  I could start with the decision to put in the IUD… or the ovary removal in 2012… or go even further back.

Let’s start with the day of my first period.  I was 9 years old and in the 4th grade. It wasn’t too big of a deal except it was strange.  The pediatrician suspected it was a result of anemia because I ate very vegetarian.  But it stopped between 11 and 14 altogether with iron supplements and more sunlight.

And that’s things took a drastic turn south.

I remember  sitting in biology as a freshman and passing out in class.  I felt terribly nauseus and dizzy but they wouldn’t let me go to the nurse.  When I did pass out, I fell off my chair and it revealed a pool of blood on my seat, dripping down on to the floor.  THEN I was sent home.  I was also called nasty by my classmates who took this as an indication of poor feminine hygiene.

Never mind that I was wearing a tampon AND an overnight pad at that time…

… TMI?  Yes but I feel the need to be candid.

I got sick during my SATs and passed out for some of it.  No excuses.

f0746389-11b2-48c9-a811-78aa0dd27807.jpg

My high school self. Early 00s

 

In fact, I couldn’t excuse myself out of anything during my menstrual cycle.  Definitely not high school.  Also not work.  No boss could understand why I couldn’t deal with it or prepare better.

By God’s grace I delivered 3 children, and a few years after that I was going to the Emergency Department monthly.  Abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea.  They would do an ultrasound and say, “We think you had an ovarian cyst pop.”  And send me home.  When I ran a fever they prescribed a Zpack until I can’t even tolerate it any more without nausea.  Six months went by and my performance reviews at the veterinary clinic I worked for suuuuucked.  I called out too much.  I wasn’t very alert or helpful.  I was spacey.  I didn’t have the best customer service.

In desperation my OB GYN does a laparoscopic exploration and finds that I had pelvic vein congestion and endometriosis.  I had veins twisting to the thickness of my thumb.  I had blood pooling in my abdominal cavity.  I had a shriveled ovary removed.  And all this only five years ago!

IMG_1014.jpg

My kids are nursing me back to health with smoothies.

Up until the end of last year I still had gnarly periods.  I still went hormonally off the reservation.  I would spend $6000 worth of medications and literally bleed them out before they did anything to help the rheumatoid arthritis I was also fighting.

 

And the thing that drives me up the wall right now is that all this time, from age 14 to age 32, no one told me the crucial truth:  THIS ISN’T NORMAL!  I had never even heard of a period that lasted any LESS than 10 days.  Or cramps that went away with Motrin.  Because the only thing I was told was:

  • It’s not that bad.
  • It happens to every girl.
  • Watch your diet.
  • Exercise more.  Your stomach is flabby.
  • You need to lose weight.
  • Try some herbal teas, hot packs, or ice packs.

And quite frankly, this pisses me off (excuse my language).  I had severe symptoms that were dismissed all my life, as is the case with hundreds of thousands of women who struggle with PCOS, Endometriosis, or other uterine/ovarian health issues.  And this is where it needs to change.  We need to have this conversation and push our primary care providers and OBGYNs to look for the Zebras instead of the horses when we are explaining our painful menstrual cycles.

 

IMG_0515.jpg

After the good meds kicked in, just before surgery.

My primary care provider recommended an IUD when she saw the pattern of depression/RA Flare Ups/Long Periods to see if we could eliminate periods altogether.  Fortunately (and in an excruciatingly painful manner) the IUD went clear through my uterine wall.  I say fortunately because the pathology results of my now removed uterus proved my surgeon’s words true:  Uteruses bleed, bear children, cause pain and get cancer.  And it was time for mine to go.  Have you ever even heard of Adenomyosis? It’s not diagnosable by ultrasound.

 

I’m still recovering from the hysterectomy and it’s been about 6 weeks.  I’m not at 100% yet, although I’m anxious to be.  I’m curious to see what 100% of me feels like in my marriage, my parenting, and my ministry.  A full 100% of me that is not crippled for two weeks out of the month. I may be experiencing healthy for the first time in a long time.

IMG_1052.jpg

Have you struggled with women’s health issues?  How long did it take for you to be diagnosed?  Are you still waiting for answers?  Share below!

 

 

The Season of Silence

It’s hard for me to believe I haven’t blogged in so long.

But sometimes you don’t have anything to say.  I had a lot of incoming information and things I was quietly observing and praying about.  And just waiting for things to change and shift according to God’s will.

My health took a turn of events that had me resting A LOT.  So much so I had a lot of time to think, and journal, and sleeeeeeeep. Delicious sleep.

Nothing happens for our harm though.  I’ve learned that full well.  In all the events and trials we have been through, it has all worked out to do good in us.  The issue is that our definition of “good” is probably not God’s.

We think “good” is comfortable, pleasant, or nice.  God says “good” is having strong moral fiber, being like Jesus; forgiving when it hurts, turning the other cheek… Persevering in the face of persecution.  Having endurance in the faith while being tried and tested.

It goes without saying that to have good results by God’s standards you will have to be moved from the comfortable and pleasant.  You can’t stay safe and happy and develop a Christ-like character, which is the ultimate definition of “good”.

Yes, everything has worked out for my good.  I’ll share in subsequent blogs some specifics, but I can see God’s signature in my life and my faith is growing.

signature