I have a genetic mutation. It is not the intangible phasing of Shadowcat (one I might choose if given a choice).
Less exciting, mine is a hereditary blood-clotting mutation. I don’t think “throwing clots” is listed in any X-Men superpowers.
Oh whoopty do. I think if they did extensive DNA testing on more people, they would find that we all have some kind of special concoction of weirdness that we can choose (or choose not, dear padawan) to define us.
Not that it doesn’t scare me…a little.
Mine is Factor V Leiden, which I may never have known about if I hadn’t requested my medical records recently from my gynecologist. I was procrastinating during my search for something else when I decided to thumb through the huge stack of paperwork they gave me.
Among the papers were documents from the tissue biopsies and bloodwork done from my hysterectomy. While the other records were equally disturbing and not something I’ll be sharing here, I was stunned to see that the paperwork showed I have a Factor V Leiden gene mutation.
I was never told I might be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or Shadowcat. I discovered the information, eight years after my hysterectomy, buried in a piece of paper I was never given, never informed of.
Among the mischief this gene can cause (should it choose to express itself) is an increased risk of blood clots, particularly deep vein thrombosis. It also is linked to increased rate of miscarriage in women with the mutation.
Given the mortality rate in my dad’s family from heart attack and stroke, I’d venture a guess where I got this fancy schmancy DNA.
Like I said above, I can choose to let it define me, or I can choose to shrug it off. It is, after all, just one gene, in a pool of…what is the latest estimate now, 20,000-30,000?
After I overcame my usual round of “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and bemoaning the wonders of patient information in modern medicine, my first thought was “Blow it off. Let the siblings know it’s out there, in case they want to know, but set it aside and go on.”
I thought this was a healthy course of action, but then I got to thinking, “Why not let the sky fall?”
In the books and articles I read about the psychology of change, few individuals actually make a completely life-altering change when it comes to fitness or weight loss or dietary changes. This remains constant, the statistics show, even when those changes are required to save their life.
Maybe we need a little more chicken-little and a little less cocky rooster.
If I choose to let this define me, to the extent that it causes me to work harder at being healthy, then maybe a little fearful, chicken-like state of paranoia is beneficial.
The downside is that I catch myself in the what-if’s: If they had known about this factor prior to my miscarriages, would it have altered the way they treated me?; If my father had known he had this mutation, would it have altered the life choices he made that increased the odds of the coronary thrombosis that killed him at 45?
At the least, when I was asked at virtually every doctor’s visit since 2005 whether I have any issues with blood clotting, I could have at least said “I have Teenage Mutant Ninja Shadowcat blood (TMNS)” and let them decide the course of treatment.
I’m sure I’m still going to make poor lifestyle choices from time to time, but there is, surprisingly, comfort in imagining my TMNS superpowers taking over from time to time, saving me from myself: “Ma’am, please step away from the bacon.”