Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Things We Learn

 
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Antique French Chapel Chair & Antique Dutch School Desk


Doris Lessing the writer said of learning, "That is what learning is.  You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way."  She could have been talking about DNA...a personal DNA report. You have known something is quite wrong with your health and that you do not feel as if you really belong anywhere, then you learn from that genetics report that you were right about what you understood.

Several posts back, I wrote that I had sent away a saliva sample to the consumer DNA company 23andMe.  As the sequencing is now completed, I have Internet access to numerous health reports, traits, carrier status, my raw data, plus a list of people who are genetically related to me.

As a child, I always knew I was royalty...don't we all have those fantasies?  As it turns out, I am genetically a distant relation to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France; to Prince Philip, the Queen of England's  husband and her second cousin; to Napoleon Bonaparte  and to Saint Luke.  Before you are overly impressed, you should know that if your ancestors were European, you are probably related to the same gang.


While being related to royalty, however distant, is cool, it explains something not so cool...why I have a rare blood disorder called porphyria, the "royal disease."  I also learned that I am a hemochromatosis carrier and that I also have another metabolic disorder called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short.  Go ahead, insert some vowels into the last disorder...I have!

As the information about health and the short cuts around the genetic mutations were life saving, I sent a 23andMe kit to my younger sister.  Then...OOPS.  On our mother's birthday, on the day the Pope resigned, on the day lightening struck the Vatican, my sister pops up on my 23andMe Relative Finder as my half-sister.  No wonder I was the only blue-eyed blond in a large family.  That explains why I never felt as if I really belonged.

I suddenly understand something I had understood all my life, but in a new way.  Doris Lessing is right. At least that's what learning is late in life.

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