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This genetic disease that I probably don't have

bdubguy1bdubguy1 Registered User
edited November 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm in Iraq right now, and while I've been here I've noticed some changes happening. I have devoloped some nervous tics/twitches, I have trouble forming my thoughts into words, I can't multitask as well as I used to, and I easily forget how to do things I could do before. My memory is also worsened, but it's always been bad. My personality has changed apparantly people have told me.

Doing a bit of research, I found out about Huntington's Disease. It's an inherited genetic disorder. There are a lot of symptom's that I've noticed in myself. I think it could be this but there are a few undeniable reasons it could not. No one in my family has ever had these symptoms to my knowledge, and from what I've found at least one of your parents has to have it in order for you to. Also, the onset of symptoms happens either in your 30s and 40s for one type of the disease and late teens for the other. I'm 22, so I fit in neither category.

There is a genetic test to see whether you have the gene for it, but if its positive they put you through more psych evaluations before they actually diagnose you. So am I making a mountain out of a molehill or could this be something real? I ask the forum becuase I know that "self diagnosis" really isnt' accurate and lots of people freak out after reading something about the internet about some disease and thinking they are dying or something.

Also, I'm coming home off of active duty soon, so if there is a risk I'm not sure whether to have the military check it out and spend the rest of my life in a VA hospital waiting for a doctors desicion or just get civilian insurance and go that route. Thanks.

bdubguy1 on

Posts

  • stigweardstigweard Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Stress, too much caffeine, poor diet, and lack of sleep can cause all of those symptoms as well.

    stigweard on
  • EriosErios Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    You're in a war zone. Your brain is under a level of stress that can hardly be compared to most civilian life.

    The odds of Huntington's are far lower than an excess of adrenaline and cortisol completely suppressing your cognitive functions. Also, functionally speaking, you as a person have to compensate with biological changes through changes in perception. Also, your most basic fears are being primed on a subconscious level every day. Let's not even start with the pressure to perform well :P.

    Check out the VA though, just to be sure. Especially if it's psychological. And of course, make sure you're eating right. Also, can you get to sleep easily at night? Do you avoid bed? Can you sleep when you aren't completely exhausted?

    Humans like to shoot the moon when it comes to possible negative outcomes. Partly this is due to psychological defense mechanisms; if we envision the worst, we can help prepare for it and if it isn't the "worst" then we can see it as a good break. The mind likes to avoid pain. Also, we as humans have TERRIBLE emotional forecasting. All of this forms (some) of the reasons we usually do not recommend self-diagnosis. The internet has exacerbated this problematic tendency.

    Erios on
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  • SpongeCakeSpongeCake Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I have a cushty, relaxing, secure office job and I experience regular stress related muscle twitches. You are in a goddamn warzone where you are at constant risk of explosions and rockets and shit.

    Your parents don't have Huntington's, you have an array of symptoms which match up perfectly with stress and you are currently in what I can only assume is an incredibly stressful situation. I think it's a safe bet that this is stress. Don't make it any worse by freaking out over astronomically unlikely illnesses.

    SpongeCake on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    When I get stressed I get a bit hypochondriac. Maybe you are the same? Iraq must be an extremely stressful place to be (understatement!)

    CelestialBadger on
  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    How long you been out? I've always found when jumping to a new spot in the world, that I tend to lose focus in much the same way after a while, especially if I'm moving from place to place within that new location. Different towns within the same region for example.

    Stability is more than just a frame of mind- habits and the sense of community one gets from being in the same place for a while are an important factor in living daily life. Its kind of like your mind only has so much juice to go around; if its dealing up the changes going on around you, it has a harder time dealing up the changes going on within you.

    This is, I've found, substantially different than tourism. When you are just visiting a place, its much like your mind expects that you will return home and keeps placeholders for all of those thoughts and activities. After you really started to live in a new place for while though, your body is no longer convinced you're going to be back home and tries to readjust itself to the new goings on. Sometimes this happens after just a few months, sometimes (if the place is substantially similar) it can take up to a year.

    Its a huge amount of stress; a lot of energy is put forward into changing, even if it may seem in your daily life that not a lot out of the ordinary is going on. The weird thing is, things can actually be quite a lot easier in the new place, and the mind and body can still show signs of wear. People chronically underestimate the amount of trauma moving causes, but long term effects (moving over and over again) can be both marked and disturbing.

    The worst part is, you'd think that such a thing would clear when you get back home to the familiar- but it doesn't. The longer you were away the more you have to adjust again after getting back, and so things will start off good, then get worse, then get better. If you jump just after things start to get better for the second time, the whole thing starts again.

    Dunno how thats going to help you, other than to say what you're going through could be totally natural, and I hope things get easier for you.

    Sarcastro on
    Edcrab wrote: »
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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It may be some mild form of PTSD?

    if you have access to some sort of counselor, therapist, or even a chaplain I think you should talk to them as soon as possible. I wouldn't ask about the test but they should be able to give you some advice on how to proceed.

    If not that then definitely see a therapist once you get back home.

    acidlacedpenguin on
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  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Sacastro has a point: travel to weird places or constant travel can just have that effect. Stress can just have that effect. Just working in a harsh environment like that fucked up my personality pretty bad last winter. Are we talking debilitating losses here, or are you talking about like, "I seem to forget my car keys/gerber/sunglasses more lately" type stuff?

    JohnnyCache on
  • PulvaanPulvaan Registered User
    edited November 2008
    PTSD is much more likely. Get a consult with a psychiatrist.

    Pulvaan on
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Actually, Huntington's Disease is one of those bizarre trinucleotide repeat disorders, and successive generations of folks who have the disease get worse (earlier onset, usually). The juvenile distinction is only one of age, as it is the same disorder. The good thing is that it is extremely rare (worse odds than a meteor landing on your head) to get Huntington's spontaneously without having an affected parent. Of course, you could be adopted. Erm.

    Anyway, while it could definitely be stress-related, there are a host of other disorders that don't have a famous name attached to them that could be the culprit. Parasites, Infectious disease (even good ol' Lyme disease), and a lot of other things can do it. Go get checked out. Look for other unrelated symptoms, too.

    Hahnsoo1 on
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  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    bdubguy1 wrote: »
    I'm in Iraq right now, and while I've been here I've noticed some changes happening. I have devoloped some nervous tics/twitches, I have trouble forming my thoughts into words, I can't multitask as well as I used to, and I easily forget how to do things I could do before. My memory is also worsened, but it's always been bad. My personality has changed apparantly people have told me.
    This really, really sounds like your reaction to being in Iraq more so than Huntington's disease. I constantly twitched in my sleep and nearly forgot entirely how to do my old job, a job I was literally able to do with my eyes closed, when I got back. I didn't have any trouble multitasking again, but my job in Iraq centered around it so I'm not surprised. As far as your personality being different, you went through a life changing experience, it's bound to be different.

    But that said, if you're genuinely worried about these symptoms I'd highly recommend talking to a psychiatrist. Talk to a medic or chaplain to get started on this. You should also be getting a medical brief when you get back to address any medical concerns you might have.

    Quid on
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