Sunday, June 18, 2017

Who's Your Daddy?

DNA testing has fascinated me for years.  I recall that in my advanced Genetics university class, others would get the glazed over look in their eyes while I would be on the edge of my seat, riveted by the lecture.  
Finally, there's a test available to consumers that can accurately genotype your DNA, reading the 38,000 alleles you have in your chromosomes.  charges $200 for the complete test.  They have the world's largest database and is the only company that's FDA approved to provide cancer genome testing.  Don't go with a cheaper company, you'll get what you paid for.
Here's the magic.
Much to my mother's surprise, I have not a drop of Algonquin or Huron Indian in me.  The missing branch on her side of the family tree isn't First Nation, nor is it as we assumed to be French. 

It's British!!!  I'm 60% English/Irish... which means mom has English in her ancestry-- I think she about died of disdain when I broke the news to her.
Also troubled her greatly when I read to her that I'm 89% more Neanderthal than your average person. 

"You must get that from your father"  was the quick response.  Pity that my phenotypic traits point right back to mom.  Daddio has the cutest round head... my mother and I have sagittal crests (pronounced ridges making us square headed).  Plus, I have a very pronounced archaic tendon.

 Most of you don't have these babies anymore because your ancestors quit swinging from trees way before mine did.

Finding out you're less evolved than the rest of the world might be a slap in the face to most.  I relish it.  In some ways proves why I might have greater kinship with animals and the natural world.
The 23 and Me sequenced genome was then submitted to for a list of links to genetic risk factors.
Brace yourselves, if you're a glass half full type of person, a fatalist at heart, don't do it.  The knowledge of how you might die will haunt you.  On the other hand, if your glass is like mine AND you believe that knowledge is power.  DO IT!  
I finally have an owner's manual for this machine I call my body.  
Promethease scans your DNA top to bottom.  Over 20,000 resulting data hits are then classified by importance and magnitude.  
Get this:
I'm a cystic fibrosis carrier-- would've been important thing to know if starting a family.
I also have a mutation resulting in very few fast twitch muscles.  Downside is that I'll never be Olympic sprinting or power lifting material, I figured that out on my own.  Upside is that I'm endowed with beaucoups more slow twitch muscles, thus explaining why marathons didn't tire me.  
Following is one page out of 7 of variants detected for heart defect or stroke. 

No kidding.  Also been nice to have known that before... would've made the hole in my heart an earlier diagnosis.
I'd been prescribed to take baby aspirin by my cardiologist 6 years ago.  I tried, but the aspirin made me susceptible to bruising and I always looked like an abused wife.  Go figure it was useless treatment anyway.  DNA shows that I'm resistant to aspirin.  
Being more archaic in my DNA also makes it that I'm 7x less likely to respond to antidepressants.

I have mutated serotonin receptors among other quirks.  People with my alleles feel the least amount of post surgery pain.   I have tested that theory a few times, I concur.  My orthopedic surgeon asked me last Fall when I'd broken my big toe, I'd been running on it thinking it was pesky arthritis. Thanks, Neanderthal! 
My inability to process many drugs is more than just a hindrance should I ever have about with depression, but it also greatly affects cancer and other disease treatments.  There's a routinely prescribed drug for kidney stones that if administered to me would cause kidney failure. This is what I call empowerment!  
After having watched a dog I adore go through cancer treatment for a year with drug efficacities up in the air, I want to know my DNA and which new gene based cancer drugs would help me.  
More knowledge, more power:  for the past year, my doctor and I have been confounded by my chronic fatigue and skewed anemia profiles.  After more than $2000 of testing, I presented to her the answer for a mere $5.  Thank you, Promethease.  I have 2 mutations that produce hemochromatosis. 

In spite of toxic high iron levels in my blood, I'm always anemic.  I can't process iron, I store it in my blood and liver, with potential irreversible damage to my liver.  My treatment begins June 29:  phlebotomy,  blood letting to get the iron out until it's at normal levels and avoiding red meats, among other things.  
Doctors do the best they can, it's up to us as individuals to be informed and willing to make changes. 
My information still abounds.  Across all the B vitamins, I have mutations that impair my uptake of them.  Another piece in the puzzle to why I've been struggling with fatigue.  

Ahead of my appointment, I've already been to donate blood and am now ingesting triple doses of B complex.  I feel better, if only because I have a plan.
Failure to plan is planning to fail.  My mantra.
DNA also showed that I carry the Warrior genes.  Not as glamorous as it sounds.  Having them predisposes men to violence.  Researchers have had a blast testing gang members and murderers to prove this theory. 

It's less understood in women, but I can tell you that reading stories of men who have this mutation, it rings a bell.  A big one. 

I don't feel rage daily, per say... but I describe it as my daily fury. As a child, the school teachers said I was too aggressive in soccer, ushering me towards individual sports away from team sports.  I play to win, what else is there (apparently some play for fun, pfff!).  I wake up with the alien inside me that pressures me to let it out-- daily.  I've learned over the years to not try to quell it with alcohol, not to ignore it because it will come out untamed, but to channel it in a controlled environment.  DAILY.  To release it requires physical energy, whether it be running, boxing, work, anything-- it has to be hard and explosive.  
Yes, I've tried meditating, been to many seminars, mmmmmmmmmm-ed with gurus, performed yoga, nothing works unless it's a physical exertion.  I now have proof why yoga pisses me off, it attempts to repress my little alien.  
It's all linked, a beautiful puzzle now makes sense.  I don't feel crazy anymore, I feel closer to my roots that's all.
Another glimpse of info that could trouble many is my high likelihood of developing Alzheimer's before the age of 80.

 It's only info.  
My second highest predisposition is that I'm 3x more likely to die of sudden cardiac arrest. 

Once again, powerful info.  Yet, considering the hole in my heart and my pedal to the metal attitude...well...
Does it change how optimistic I am about my future?  Heck, no.  I've had Cole to teach me for the past ten years how to live in the moment.  Thanks to him, that's what I enjoy, that's what I'll keep doing. 
However, I will now add to my plans to begin marathon training again at 75... massive coronary is a more fitting way for a warped warrior go then alone in a psych ward.  
So there it is, a complete manual for my 71 model engine.  Thankfully, I've already had my 5 mile run this morning, so I can go about my day and play nice. Maybe.