Family legend has it that a great grandmother, Nancy, was Choctaw. I grew up knowing that for sure. I have strong cheekbones and a square face. A dentist said these small indentions in my teeth indicate a Native American Ancestry. So, for the past 52 years, I assumed I had at least 10% Native American, mostly Choctaw or Blackfoot. I reveled and claimed this part of my heritage with great pride. I admire the First Nations of America.
I don’t even have a fraction of a percent. My sisters might. DNA from parent to child is odd that way. People get half of their DNA from a parent, and that half may not be what their siblings receive. Since I’m dark haired and eyed, olive complected, and rather short, I figure my tall, blonde, and fair complected sister is more Scandinavian than my own 20%.
And that was surprise number one. I’m Scandinavian AND 20%? Really? I honestly look the exact opposite of whatever you think of as a person in that group. So to be as much as that is a huge wow. Almost as much as the 0% Native American.
The 29% Irish and 25% English was not surprising. With a maiden name of Kelley and family names of Magee, Baker, Casey, Stewart, Monroe, Simms, to be 54% from the UK was a given. I’ve been to England, and the country does feel like home. Now I seriously want to visit the rest of the UK.
Fractional surprises? There are small fractions of various ethnicities. Genetics supported another family legend of a Jewish man marrying a Gentile and back then, they held a funeral for him because he was dead to the family. Turns out, it’s true. Something else fun and a wow moment is being 5% West Asian. Yep.I had no idea. Maybe the Scandinavian might have been a given when considering the Vikings and a number of red haired people in my family. Seeing that being reported was not too much of a surprise. But West Asian? Now I really MUST know more about that part of my ancestry.
A Facebook friend recommended I run the DNA data through a medical website and doing so was an oh my God! moment. It was there in the report and in my genetics. All the reasons for being told I need to pay attention, need to remember things better, need to stop being so obsessive were hardwired into my DNA. If I’d discovered this in my teens or twenties, I’d have known these were real aspects of me I could modify but were no more shameful than having brown instead of blue eyes. You can dye hair, wear colored contacts, and have cosmetic surgery for your nose. Knowing you have a bit of ADD? There are hints and helps I had to uncover the hard way by trial and error. If I’d had a “You have this, here’s what you do,” report back in my twenties, I think life would have been a lot easier. At least, there would have been a lot less of feeling defective in some way. Like the entire world could focus and I was the only one who couldn’t. Memory, too. Everyone could remember the shopping list, why couldn’t I?
So, my recommendation is for people to get their DNA checked. Not just for the where did I come from, which is cool, but for the medical. It’s scary, especially when you read about having a tendency toward various cancers and heart disease. I knew about those particular health risks for me, but to see them in print was daunting. Prometheus’s test also lists the medicines I’m either great or not so great with. Chemo meds are more effective for me than most, while blood thinners, ibuprofen (I took massive amounts for my migraines in the past! It’s a wonder my intestines are still intact, and I have a liver.), and transplant meds aren’t. Good to know now, right?
Something else that’s fun and I’ve learned the northern Europeans need to expect is the potential for Neanderthal DNA to be mixed in. I had no idea and think having Neanderthals as contributors to my genetics is a riot.
I will say that a lot of the potential medical bad stuff in my genes can be mitigated by lifestyle. Just because I’m able to tolerate cocaine without being addicted doesn’t mean I will ever try the drug just to make sure. I’m also 60% resistant to AIDS, something else I’m not going to test. Forewarned actually is forearmed.
So how about you? Leave a comment on if you had an ancestry test and it went haywire or not. Let us know what happened with you.