When you all get out into the world, you will find things to occupy your time which are far from pleasant. I’ve received some strong criticism of what I’ve written so far, which deserves a response. But life intrudes, so there will be a delay. In the meantime read up on familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy, sickle cell disease, Motoo Kimura’s work on neutral mutation and have a look at http://luysii.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/how-fast-is-your-biological-clock-ticking-well-know-soon/
#1 (and worst) a young family member has dropped out of college this fall and is almost certain to be in the early stages of schizophrenia. While chemistry and pharmacology will give him a better life than a state hospital would have 50 years ago, it will not be a full life. It’s essentially a death in the family (the parents are still in denial). At least they don’t have to be told that it is their fault, as some psychiatrists were wont to do 50 years ago.
#2 (not as bad but still bad). My brother’s wife’s brother passed away — a lifelong schizophrenic. He dropped out of Penn at the same age and for the same reason (he couldn’t think despite high intelligence) as #1 about 40 years ago, so the family now has a replacement.
#3 We are presently fighting a zoning battle to keep a casino away from our door. Compared to #1 and #2 this is trivial. This may be why docs seem so unfeeling at times. They have their nose rubbed in the really serious stuff every day.