Genetics

Why do I consider myself a Darwinian Fail? Well that is a long and complicated story, but here I will give you abridged version of this long and sorted tale.

My history has a Darwinian Fail all began almost a decade ago, when I was diagnosed with a rare arrhythmia. (*Bear with me for a description a little heavy on the medical jargon.*) My condition is formally called prolonged QT syndrome, which basically means  that when the heart is beating away it can sometimes take too long to recover in between beats.  This can be kind of problematic, and often causes those who have it to get light headed, lose consciousness, and in some unfortunate cases it can cause instant cardiac death. This all sounds very daunting, and it is incredibly unusual, especially for someone with no known family history. It is a hereditary condition, and is one caused by certain set of genetic mutations. I was 17 when I was diagnosed, and 18 when I was fitted with my first pacemaker/defibrillator. I am happy to say that barring the general maintenance required to maintain this device, and the rare but inevitable human error - I now have a very happy healthy heart.

It was a long way back to a happy healthy life though, because after battling long QT for 2 years I ended up FAT! Those two years included; 6 different allergic reactions, 2 surgeries, no exercise, and a LOT of comfort food and emotional eating. So there I was 50 lbs heavier than when I started, unhappy, self-conscious, and ready to make a change. I decided as important and prevalent our genetic predisposition has become today in our study of health and wellness, it does NOT have to be the be all end all. I would change my lifestyle - start eating healthy, make exercise part of regular routine - and...
LOSE THE WEIGHT FOR GOOD!

And I am proud to say I did just that! I reached my goal weight 5 months after my journey started, and have never looked back. Diet, Health, Wellness, Exercise, Running, and Fitness are all a regular part of my daily lifestyle. It has been 6 years since I started meeting my Darwinian failures head on and making changes to my lifestyle. I have come a long way, but there is still a part of me that has held on to some some of my unhealthy habits. I LOVE LOVE LOVE food, and have been known to indulge in the occasional junk food binge. And making exercise a priority is not always as easy as it sounds.

Genetics is not quite ready to release its hold over my life just yet though. Little did I know genetics has more for me to learn, and just when I was starting to get complacent it has popped back up and regained its place of prominence. Almost 2 years ago my Mom was diagnosed with and beat Breast Cancer all as a result of the BRCA 1 gene. (DAMN THESE GENES!!) And in April of 2011 it has been confirmed that I am a Darwinian Fail all over again, because I too am positive with the BRCA 1 gene. The BRCA 1 gene means your risk of breast cancer jumps to the range of about 40-70% of developing the disease. I am not a usually a betting woman, and math has never been my strong suit, but those aren't great odds. Anything above 50% when it comes to my health; I don't consider stellar. I have made the decision to act preventatively and have and signed up for a bilateral mastectomy with an alloderm reconstruction. No Boobies = No Breast Cancer.

So this year I am making health my priority. I am not making these extreme changes to my body to slack on the areas that are easily controlled. Maintaining a healthy diet, a regular exercise routine, and a balanced lifestyle is all part of my Genetic Battle Plan. This year I will make genetics, heart disease, and breast cancer my BITCH! And I am doing all of this while training for my first half and full marathon! Just watch!

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten


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My Genetic Battle Plan

This year, starting April 1st I am officially waging war on genetics. I am dedicating this year of my life to exploring clean healthy living to see what this type of dedication can accomplish. So here is the plan...

*Diet: 
- Healthy Eating is a must!
- I will be using Canada's Food Guide as the basis for my diet ratios
- While also eating approximately 1500 cal/day
- I am going eat REAL food (steering away from anything processed, and anything in a package), trying to eat primarily locally grown organic meals 
- but let's be realistic I live in Canada, there is about 6 month of winter where the locally grown produce selection is severely limited, so lets be reasonable here

* Exercise:- Maintain a regular exercise routine, aiming for 5-6 days a week of exercise consistently
- It has been a long time personal goal of mine to run a half marathon.
- Running is something I have grown to love, but it is challenge.
- Strenuous cardio exercise of any kind tends to be questionable for those of us with robotic hearts. So running has become my genetic battle ground, its the area where I challenge myself and literally fight my genetics one run at a time.
- I have been saying for years that I would run a half marathon, but every time I start to train for the race I have experienced a medical set back (this year being no exception)
- So 2012 is my year! I plan to run a half marathon, and dare I say it...maybe even a FULL marathon.
- I want to use my training as a way to regain my strength and get back into shape following my bilateral mastectomy with an alloderm reconstruction

* Lifestyle:- Adopt the 80/20 principle, life is too short and too crazy not to love every minute, so you spend 80% of your time make healthy choices and 20% indulging and enjoying the things you love
- I think a balance is a must, but not always the easiest to attain, so finding that happy medium is important to making this year attainable
- And I will be blogging all the way along, to keep everyone informed of my progress and to keep myself accountable
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

22 comments:

  1. I just wanted to applaud your bravery. I have written it in my head, but not on my blog yet, but my mother too has done battle with the BRCA-1 Gene. That battle was fought for years and I'm sure it's where I get my stubborness and never say never, never give up mentality. I think it's great that you are being proactive in stopping the gene from taking over your life. Smart, and incredibly brave. Don't just make it your bitch--beat it into submission, then take off its head. It deserves even worse than that. Definitely one of my favorite blogs right now. Happy writing!

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  2. Wow, what an inspiration and insightful story! You're such a rock star!!!

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  3. Okay, I totally found a new blog to follow! ;) I LOVE your motivation and strength!!

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  4. This is such an amazing story! You are so impressive!

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  5. What an amazing story. Yomadden like an amazing woman and I wish you all the best luck and health now and in the future!

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  6. I kept meaning to come find your blog after finding you on IG.

    Seriously, you are incredible. Amazing story. Glad to follow along on your blog now too:)

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  7. You are so strong!! Have you ever considered the DIEP procedure for the mastectomy? My mother had it done about a year ago. Worked great!

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    1. DIep was not an option available to me. I am pretty small, so my body did not have enough tissue to facilitate a reconstruction. If you are interested I wrote a post ( back in March) after my surgery outline the possible options and why or why they didnt work for me. I am really happy with the results I got!

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  8. Wow, what a story! I just found your blog and am catching up on posts. It sounds like you are faced with multiple challenges with your medical issues. Can you swim or does that also aggravate the heart condition?

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    1. Hey Lisa,

      As far as I know swimming and most activities are A-ok. For any type of cardio I do where a heart rate monitor though and make sure I stay within the proper parameters. Despite all this crazy stuff I did manage to run my first Marathon in October :)

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  9. Just found your blog through twitter and I can wait to read more. My family has been more afflicted by heart disease than any other family I've ever heard of. I have it bad on both sides and often joke that I'm doomed, while trying my best to fix the problems before they affect me. thinking of it as "darwinian fail" makes me laugh. Good for you!

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  10. Wow, what a story! I also love the title of this blog... too good! :P

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  11. I absolutely love your website! And you are my inspiration when it comes to running...started last week, and plan to keep at it. Want to run a 5K by end of July...if I keep at it, it can happen! Keep posting, as I read all the time xoxox

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    1. YOU CAN DEFINITELY DO IT GIRLIE!!

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  12. Very inspirational! Thank you for sharing.

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  13. I am so glad that I found your blog. Your stories are inspirational and I appreciate (as do many other women, I'm sure) your willingness to share these subjects openly. I look forward to reading your new posts.

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  14. Wow, you are amazing and an inspiration! I applaud you for putting your health first, and doing so publicly so other can learn from you.

    I'm so glad you found my blog so I could find yours. I look forward to following.

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  15. This is the first time I've read your blog, and I'm amazed. Way to meet what life has given you head on. You are one tough lady :-)

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  16. Hi Krysten. We all need inspiration in life. Sometimes we need many forms of inspiration, even for unrelated stuff. It's been said, but you're an inspiration. I wish you well and would like to tell you that your story and life plan has really impacted me in a moment I needed it. Good luck and #FightOn.

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  17. Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog via twitter and I have to admit, for the first time it feels like someone has gone through a similar struggle as me. I am also a darwinian fail - at 21 I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, meanwhile I was also an elite level athelte competing at the world championship level - 2 things that don't exactly mix in regards to risk of death. As a result, like you, I had a pacemaker/defib installed on Christmas day 2010, and had to undergo a second surgery to replace the wires the following June since one of the wires had perferated my heart muscle. As a result of no longer being able to train, and having to take so much time off all activity, and then the emotional eating from having my life flipped upside down, I also gained weight. About 40 lbs in 1.5 years. It's been 3 years and I'm just now getting back in shape and have gotten the medical green light to run and push myself again. Although I don't have the extra complication of the BRCA gene I can totally relate and appreciate your honesty and optimism.

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  18. Wow what an amazing blog! The similarity is helping me to move forward. I too have been diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome following a cardiac arrest in February this year. I am and have been, at the lowest of the low with this condition, my family especially my amazing husband, have been so supportive. I too have found the comfort in food and increased in weight, so feeling pretty sorry for myself. I will soon take on a challenge of my own to get my life back, especially now you have given me so much inspiration. Thank you so much for just sharing your life. You are amazing! xx

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