Things I have learned.

As, I believe, any normal child, teen, adult, senior individual would have happened, I have learned things. Yes, we all learn things. That, as my deceased friend john Fakan PhD would tell, is what we do. It’s been proven that we start learning before birth. We know our mothers voice and our fathers. React to siblings and sounds, and probably more. The ticket tho…is learning something worth not forgetting. Lordy, in my time, if I could remember all the things I’ve forgoten, I’d worry for the health of my brain. So here goes…My first memories…Dad got me a pen knife. I started school when I was 5 and I’m pretty sure it was at that time/year. Of course I cut my finger and cried and Dad said, that is a lesson. Funny thing to think that after the next 20 yrs pass, I would be making a living using a knife. A very sharp one too. I remember my little sister Karen coming home from being born at the hospital so I was 4 at that time….and of course I remember our baby-sitter having to be rushed to the hospital that same night for an emergency appendectomy. The first flower that I can remember was a blue Morning Glory. I was in awe of a flower coming out blue. And then the Pussy Willows with their strange fuzzy tips, how strange that a plant would develop like that. My discovery that lighting frequently hit a tree in the middle of a field I could see from my first (very own) bedroom window. I’d be 4-5. I remember Ralph Bowersox showing me my first abstract thought…the way to make all the cards in a deck lay in one form, but putting them edge down on the table and sliding the ones out of order down to meet and make the properly aligned deck.

So, I’ve learned things. But here is an unusual piece of learning. I was on Grand Cayman Island in about 1971 in a lounge meeting and talking to other people, and this guy who was there in some kind of technical realm that was not related, started to tell us about congenital anomalies. In 1971 I was then a doctor but a very young one, and I was all ears to unique medical things. He mentioned about the reality of Grand Cayman Is, where families were large, the island is pretty much out in the middle of no where…not especially close to other islands other than the two smaller Cayman Islands. Grand Cayman is roughly 22 miles long and the east end has a big C in it facing north labelled the North Sound. There was almost no families in the middle of the island as it is so narrow that weather had a big effect and logistics such as food and water were hard to come by. So, social logistics meant that there was an East end and a West end. Boys, generally grew up and went to see early in their teens and were good seamen. Girls either moved off the island to some family aunt or uncle on another continent, or married and stayed there to keep house. They didn’t understand why birth defects were so common and didn’t know that inbreeding was the cause. A boy might marry his cousin, or the girl next door who was genetically too closely related to him. (or her). It didn’t take too long for birth defects to show up, and now I’m embarrassed to tell I can’t remember what the defects specifically were, and there were many. The religious groups Missionaries began to take control and soon it was declared that certain families could not marry certain other families. Certain boys could not marry, or even date, certain girls. And finally genetics had recently (as the man told us then) pinpointed and was able to govern with certainty the inbreeding problem.

I went to Bucknell University in Lewisburg Penna., and Amish were very common in that area and the large area a bit farther south was being followed closely by a doctor. (I’m very sorry I can’t recall his name), but he noted inbreeding in the Amish community and that occurrence of congenital anomalies was totally logical. It made big publicity when it came out and he had followed them for quite a long time and had taken excellent data to make his case. I guess some of the Amish were angry and some even embarrassed, but they finally understood, and this publication was before major knowledge and manipulations of genetics was known. Now, I’m sure it is more accepted, and the genetic deformities are Much less.

Which brings me to Lee County Virginia. I moved here in 1989 at age 51, and I can say that I saw more congenital anomalies in the first few years here than I did in the previous 25 yrs in medicine. I don’t announce this to embarass, and I honestly don’t know if it’s been documented or studied. Think of it this way. Powell Valley which is most of Lee Co., was the grocery store for indian tribes that surrounding it. Powell Valley is a large almost triangular area XXXXXX miles on 2 sides and xxxx miles on the remaining side. The indians came here to hunt and fish, they smoked their meat and took it back to their villages. Daniel Boone and Dr. Thomas Walker travelled thru what is now Lee Co, in 1791 ?????. Dr Walker could read and write so the history is uncommonly well documented from that time forward. Soon, pioneers…white men and women, literally invaded the country taking it from the indians under terrible pretences and guise. Wars and terrible hardships on both sides gradually leaned towards total occupation by white men, and black men. There was a difference involved there between black and white that is Still to this day being sorted out. Soon small settlements arose and families began their process of growing. Without much of transportation, horse and mules, boys married cousins, sometimes even their own sisters…or at least got them pregnant. Hormones took their place of battle. Stone mountain is the north side of the triangle and there are 3 gaps on it….Cumberland Gap, Pennington Gap, and Big Stone Gap. If a boy wanted a lady that was more remote than cousin, he might have to cross over one of the gaps into what is now Kentucky. That would be a Very long hike without a horse, and I’m sure it happened many times. It got a little more action as the era of horses bloomed and one had a wider range of courting. Then came Railroads and finally cars and trucks. Even these didn’t help when one does not have the income to buy one, and the industries were farming, raising tobbacco, and mining. The lack of transportation and the lack of wealth led so many to inbreed and led to so many birth defects.

Now and hopefully lastly, I’ll bring up the worst type of birth defect, Autism and all its related brain defects. This one hasn’t stopped, and possibly hasn’t even slowed down in the last 26 yrs since I’ve been in Lee Co.. It seems to be related to alcohol and it mey even be increasing. Drugs and alcohol seem to be the driving forces. Being drunk is almost socially acceptable. Repeated multiple DUIs, and DUIDs, seem to be accepted. Shamefully accepted ahead of legalization of Marijuana. So accepted that becoming a special needs teacher is gaining in popularity in the teaching field.

Now look at this. Only moments ago, I published this and go to the internet to read news, and This link shows yet another genetic misappropriation. If you know the geology and social demands of Dominican Republic, you will understand.

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