DNA Testing And Me!

downloadI know, it’s a little ironic that I wrote a post about casting off labels and now I’m following up with a post about my genetic labeling. Hahahaha! I’m aware of the silliness of it, but this is kind of cool and I want to share! ^o^/

For those not following my Twitter (@NerdyGrlDani), recently I’ve been on a wild journey of DNA testing via the site: 23andMe. It was advertised by Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Chuck Nice, on my favorite science podcast StarTalk Radio. The test kit cost $99 (plus a few dollars for shipping. I paid $108.). It requires that you send in a spit sample via their kit and prepaid postage box.

I had an extra hundred dollars, a Christmas gift from my mother, so I decided that I would spend the money on science and discovering answers about my genealogy, instead of wasting it on video games. So far, it has been a very interesting ride!

I rather stay anonymous online about my majority race, I only feel it’s necessary to share that information with my close friends. However, I will share the  results of the small percentages of my genealogy on my public blog (you guys!). ^_^v

hetalia_mapMy ancestors have traveled around the world, A LOT, millions of years ago. And they have mated with a few different races, leaving  traces within my DNA today. 9.5% of my DNA is Northern European, 0.4% of that is specifically British and Irish, the rest is broadly European. I have a genetic trait of reddish hair (dark auburn), which 23andMe has informed me that this particular trait is from my European DNA

Another surprise is that I’m 0.7% East Asian. 0.5% is specifically Southeast Asian and the other 0.2% is Broadly East Asian. That’s highly fascinating! ^_^

I also discovered that my DNA has 0.9% of Neanderthal Ancestry. Before you began to laugh, everyone on the planet has Neanderthal Ancestry, some more so than others. My result is relatively low for the average site user of my particular race, so I’m happy with that result! ^o^/

steinsgate-05-rintarou-kurisu-lab_coatIf you’re interested in doing the test, I do warn that it does take a long wait before results are posted, so it requires a lot of patience.  Also, 23andMe is in a legal battle with the FDA, so they are no longer giving health information about your DNA (which they use to do).  The site does provide the raw data of your test, which you can submit to other sites to interpret your chances of gainig Alzheimer and so on, 23andme are still in court battles with the FDA to bring back that service to their site and they have recently won back a portion of the health test! However, they’re fighting to return every service back and it may a while … sigh… the FDA. u_u

Another feature they have is finding long lost relatives through DNA, which may be interesting to a lot of people. I’m not so interested in that part (my experience with my known relatives is that most of them SUCK SO MUCH!), but this could be a very awesome thing for others who were adopted or just looking to connect to more awesome relatives.

My overall rating for this site is 8/10. I think it was worth the money and better than any video game. My only complaint is that I had to find a Youtube video to figure out how to navigate the site, because it’s very complicated and it’s easy to miss key information available on your account, if you are new to the site and unfamiliar with its layout.

DeeDee-dexters-laboratory-13130724-445-393However, if you click everything and leave no link unchecked, you’re liable to get all of the information you seek. I had to fall into full “Dee Dee” mode and pushed ALL of the buttons in the lab, which resulted in discovering a pretty complete story of where my ancestors originated from, the paths they’ve traveled, their cultures, and how I came to be.

Thanks for reading! ^_^v

-D

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Choosing To Be!

FloatingSkeletonHeadIn Shakespeare’s play, the character of Hamlet asks, “To be, or not to be- that is the question.” tt was a line repeated many times during my youth, but I never grasp the true meaning of it. I had struggled with the decision of simply being or choosing not to be whom I really am.

Now I’ve chosen to just be! How I got there is very long winded and complicated story, so I’ll share the cliff notes.

I knew that I was “different” ever since I was a little girl, as no one would let it happen without pressing upon me that I wasn’t like them. Some of the labels I got was “weird”, “quiet”, “slow”, “stupid”, “withdrawn”, and “misfit”. And as I got older, I began trying to find new labels for myself, ones that didn’t make me feel like crap as the given labels did.

At age twelve, my own chosen labels were wrong, as I was trying to smash myself into ideas that existed at the time. A few of those mismatched labels were “tomboy”, “lesbian”, “shy”, and “late bloomer”. I was none of those things! In my mid to late-twenties, my vocabulary expanded to “bisexual”, “masculine”,  “recluse”, and “creative”.

tumblr_static_anime-boy-colour-splash-favim.com-464794_largeAnd now, at the age of thirty-four,  I’ve come to realize yet again that maybe I’m both types of things without a clear direct meaning for it. Maybe I ought to stop labeling and face the facts about myself…

I am attracted to both females and males, sexually and emotionally, but I don’t have a particular preference for one over the other. Personality is everything to me, not body parts. This part of me is never going to change and it is what it is. I shouldn’t try to label it, to let it just be. The word “bisexual” fits, but so does “pansexual”. I rather claim that I’m Dani and call it a day.

As for gender identity, my brain is half feminine and half masculine, I believe. I’m definitely not girly (unless a spider happens by, then I’m screaming like a little girl!) and I’m not overly “butch” either… I don’t think. I do have a higher level of testosterone than most women should have, a natural occurrence in my system that doesn’t seem to worry my doctor, although it’s a mystery as to why it is that way. I was born with it, I guess. ^w^

I identify with most of the stereotypical “guy stuff”, male pride, and attitudes. However, I’m very feminine within my sexuality, the most feminine of all in that arena.  I identify as female, because that’s who I am and feel that I am, but I’d estimate that I’m 65% male in my brain. I shouldn’t worry so much about classifying my masculine/feminine sides.  I am female and male respectively, I should just leave it at that.

15833-anime-paradise-stylish-anime-blonde-girlI am “right handed”, yet I tend to use my left hand for tasks, like texting, opening doors, bottles, or jars. A few times I’ve caught myself using pen and paper with my left hand. I typically favor my right hand for writing. I’m told this has a name for it, but maybe I’m just both left and right handed, depending on specific tasks or circumstances.

My inspiration for just letting myself be, was a soundbite from Neil deGrasse Tyson: Is Gravity Made Of Particles? Is That The Right Question?. In the video he explained that there is a false dichotomy in our human language of trying to place things with more than one category into a sole definition.

He argued that society would be a much better place if we would learn to “…chill out and just let things be what they are. Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see.” I agree with him fully on this. And the clip was an eye opener for me to STOP trying to find labels for who I am as a person and to JUST BE. I am Dani and that’s good enough. ^_^

It’s nice to have labels sometimes, in order to introduce ourselves more easily to others, however it’s not always necessary to define ourselves in definitive categories in order to simply exist. Or so, that’s how I feel about myself. I’m honestly satisfied with being “neither” or “both” things, instead of trying to pigeonhole myself into one direct meaning. I feel a lot free this way!

Thanks for reading! ^_^v

-D

I Can Has Rap?

Konachan.com_-_15168_cloud_strife_final_fantasy_final_fantasy_vii_final_fantasy_vii_advent_children_sephirothWith music, I tend to have very specific tastes. Yet, at the same time, I’m rarely genre specific. I know, that’s a contradictory statement, because I’m a very complicated person. Try to follow me on this. ;^_^>

The only constant I follow is the Irish rock band, U2. However, I love all things rock, techno/trance, celtic, classical, opera, dubstep, EDM, R&B, jazz, a little reggae (mostly Bob Marley) and folk. I also collect soundtracks of video games, favorite movies, and anime. In my younger years, I went through a phase of loving Goth, J-Pop, and Grunge. I’m not much of a fan of American pop, except for a little Lady Gaga every now and then. Ahem…

Futurama-shut-up-and-take-my-money-card-34In other words, I never seem to stick with one band or artist exclusively besides U2. If I happen across a nice song or album, and I can related to the lyrics, melody, and creativity of a composition, I will buy and it will become a part of my collection.

I grew up around rap music, but I never could relate to it in any way. The most I’ve experienced in this genre was lyrics about money, expensive items or drinks, drugs, hatred towards women and homosexuals, and gang violence. I do appreciate the rhythms of rap and hip hop, but the subjects felt like a very hostile environment for me personally, therefore it wasn’t my scene.

Over the holidays, Extra Credits uploaded a video about an underground rap artist from Philadelphia named “Mega Ran”. He creates raps about video games and have been given licence from the gaming companies to use the chip music of the games for his songs. He calls the genre “chip-hop”! He’s beyond talented and I completely fell in love with his Final Fantasy VII album: Black Materia. If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy VII, do check it out, you won’t be disappointed! ^o^/

finalfantasy_adventchildren_aerithSo, it seems that there is one rap artist in the world that I can listen to and enjoy. At least one album that I can add to my collection of songs. And that’s pretty darn spiffy.

I wonder if there are more rap artist like Mega Ran out there, who have chip-hop albums that appeal to gamers, nerds, and geeks. Rap and hip-hop is not a bad art form, I believe, it’s just that the content (lyrics) of mainstream rap artists can be a lot unwelcoming to people like me. Mega Ran and his collaborations with other local artists are very well done and appeals to the gaming nerd within.

Seriously, try to listen to One Winged Angel (rap remix) without getting hyped about the game! Rawr, spin it hot, son! ~^O^~

Thanks for reading, as always! Have an awesome day! ^_^v

-D

Eye Frustrations!

DarkCatThis is a warning in advance: The following is just my frustrated rants over my eye issues and it is a little depressing. However, I feel like getting some things off my chest and since I have a blog… Please feel free to skip this one, as it’s a bunch of whining and a slight pity party! Don’t worry, I totally understand! ^_^v

I have written a few posts about my condition called “Keratoconus”, so I’ll not mention the details of that again for rambling sake. There is a procedure to stop the progressive damage of Keratoconus, called “Corneal Crosslinking” (CXL). The procedure doesn’t “cure” the disease, but it has a 98% success rate of stopping the disease in its tracks and a 60% chance of improving eyesight by one or more lines. In other words, it’s the most idea surgery for those suffering with Keratoconus.

The other option is a corneal transplant, which is more invasive and has a lower success rate. This procedure is done with donor tissue and it works just like any other transplant. A person must be really bad off in their eyesight, in order to be considered for the transplant list. Also there is a risk of rejection or getting donated tissue that isn’t well off to begin with. One of the risks of corneal transplant is vision problems… which seems to defeat the point, I think.

So, the best answer to choose is CXL… right? Well, unfortunately in the US, CXL is not FDA approved. The only way to get this procedure is through clinical trial and it cost four thousand dollars to do (sometimes a bit more in other states). No insurance in the US will cover this procedure, because it’s not FDA approved, so this means that patients have to pay this price out of pocket.  Ai-yi….  u_u

I am not a woman of means, I’m a struggling writer (aka: I eat a lot of Ramen for meals), and four thousand is roughly half of my yearly income. I can’t choose between eating my next meal and other basic needs, in order to save my vision. Even though my whole world is writing and without it I would be so lost, it’s a “luxury” that I honestly can’t afford, So, I have no choice but to wait until my eyes get progressively worse and maybe I will be eligible for the more invasive corneal transplant someday.

hqdefaultLast year, two women did offer to pay for my eye surgery, but I hesitated because (although they are very nice people!) the fact is that they are not close friends nor do we stay in contact on a daily basis. We’re not really a part of each other’s lives, they were simply fans of my earlier writings. And I’m no longer on Facebook, so we don’t have the short messages to each other once or twice a year anymore.

I never felt right about their offer, because it feels like I would be taking advantage. Especially when I know for sure that I couldn’t pay it back! Sure, they are more well off than I am (I think one works as an engineer, if I’m not mistaken… see, I barely know them.) and maybe four thousand is no skin off their noses, but I felt too guilty at the thought of asking acquaintances for that much amount of money.

I’m not comfortable with accepting money or expensive items from people that I’m not close with or family members , in general. My close family members aren’t wealthy either and the ones who are… Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t count on them to buy me a juice on a hot summer day, let alone pay for my eyes. They’re cold and distant, never wanting to be a part of my life or the lives of my siblings. >_>

However, if there was some kind of outreach program that could pay for my surgery, I would have no issue signing up for that. Although, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing. I was hoping against hope that the FDA would approve CXL last year, but the only news I’ve heard of that was the FDA was putting off the court hearing with long delays. And after that, I have no idea what happened with the case.

I’m completely in the dark of what’s going on in this long debate over this life-giving procedure. I haven’t yet found a site or group to alert me of this very political situation.

And yes, this has something to do with politics or just plain greed, I reckon. CXL is covered and approved in many other countries, except for the US. It’s been proven time and time again that it WORKS and gives patients a more quality of life. I find it shameful that the other procedure, cornea transplant, is approved and my insurance does cover it! Why not CXL? Can someone please explain that to me, in simple terms, because I’m confused! @_@

moemoefriday-77-07Meanwhile… my eyesight is in very bad shape, but yet not considered bad enough for corneal transplant. Most days, my world looks smokey and cloudy, it’s getting harder to read or write. My eyes water profusely whenever I try to focus on any object or text and I constantly walk into walls.

Every time I have to travel down stairs, I’m afraid and want to cry, because I nearly fall down them every time. One of these days, this blog will go silent, not because I am slacking but because I’ve fallen and cracked my skull wide open on the front pavement.

For days on end, I am unable to write anything, not even these “short” blog posts, because I simply can’t see anything on the screen. I honestly experience a complete “white out” on my “bad days”. I’m prone to migraine headaches, because I am squinting and struggling just to reply to emails with friends. And yet, this is not the worse of it, it will get much worse as time goes on.

I’m trying to make peace with the fact that I may become blind for good, with or without corneal transplant, Although, it sucks… It sucks so much. I feel hopeless and helpless. It doesn’t help when my eye center also refuses to give me soft contacts or even a new pair of glasses, in spite of the fact that my insurance would pay for it. They keep barking at me that I should somehow come up with the four thousand for CXL, otherwise they don’t wish to see me at all.

anime_GTFOMy glasses are twelve years old, the lenses are a bit scratched, yellowed from the years of smoking cigarettes, and one of the nose pads broke off years ago. I know that they can’t give me a stronger prescription than what I already have (I have the max, apparently), but for comfort sake… They’re just uninterested in giving me service, unless I show up with money for CXL. Yes, I have to find another place to try, I know that, and I’m working on it.

It also doesn’t help when people who are not facing such a thing make insensitive remarks like, “Well, don’t worry, you can still write when you go blind. They make braille keyboards!” Or, “there’s a new computer program that can read and ‘see’ things for the blind now, so you should be fine when the day comes.” Well, there are excellent prosthetic limbs in the world too, but if you were told that you were going to lose your arm or leg in the near future, would that really cheer you up? Seriously, I’m asking. o_O

Anyway… I’m just sulking about this, because it is a HUGE deal, And I try not to dwell on my loss of vision too much, because it is very depressing. I use to love my eyes, as they are huge (anime huge), brown, and lovely. However they suck now! Boo, you stupid eyes! Work, damn you!!!! >_<

I did find a nice alternative, when my eyesight goes kaput and I’m unable to write a thing. I watch a lot of Markiplier, because it doesn’t matter when his videos are indistinguishable blurs to my eyes. He’s a lot funny, thoughtful, and his voice is soothing. It’s hard for me to feel sorry for myself, when I’m laughing like a nut over his comedy.

I also plan to find some type of support group for those losing their eyesight, if I can. Sometimes it good to vent with those who could understand what I’m experiencing and going through.

Thanks for reading this sad rant. Take care everyone. ^_^v

-D