Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chinese Eyes

Random Filipina nurse: (to me) "Are you Chinese?"

Daisy: *?!?*

Random Filipina nurse: *earnestly awaiting answer*

Daisy: "Uh... no. But strangely enough, that's not the first time I've been asked that".

(people who know me...seriously, I've been asked this several times)

You never know when a recessive trait is going to strike. In my case, it's my "Chinese eyes".

Before we all had kids, there were only two people in my family with "Chinese eyes", me and my gorgeous Cousin Suzy. As a kid, I watched men fall all over themselves as my exotic looking cousin, then in her early 20's, passed by with her dark hair, classy style and her captivating eyes. I recall riding on rides for free when Suzy took me to the carnival. In a family whose looks exemplify "the girl next door", Suzy's features were unique.

"Are you sure you guys didn't have a Chinese milkman", DD jokes with me.

2 out of my 3 kids have inherited my "Chinese eyes", what had been a recessive trait. I hadn't thought much beyond my "Chinese eyes" when thinking of recessive traits. My DNA, when combined with DD's, is varied enough that I don't need to worry about passing things on like Sickle-Cell, cystic fibrosis or Huntington's onto my kids. Or so I thought...

"What the hell is going on, how the hell did we end up with two kids with epilepsy?"

After Buddy had his 3rd seizure in 4 days, I was asking a lot of questions. We weren't terribly surprised when EttaMae was struck with seizures last year; the poor kid really got a bad shuffle of the DNA deck. Not only did she get bad hair, bad teeth, bad eyesight amongst other things but, she'll catch every virus and bacteria in the general vicinity and is constantly sick. But now, Buddy too!

"Is there anyone else in your families that has convulsions", the neurologist asked DD and I while we were at the same hospital as that random Filipina nurse.

"No", DD answers quickly. Although the same thing can't be said with diabetes, sickle-cell and one in his family has epileptic seizures.

"I do have a cousin, a second cousin actually. She had a seizure once in her 20's but to my knowledge, she never had one again. And she was told it was probably from an old head injury, something about an old bruise on her brain, maybe from a childhood fall."

I recalled the details of Suzy's seizure to doctor as best as I could remember of the second-hand story.

"Maybe this is evidence of a recessive trait in your family" the neurologist said.

Although I'd like to deny any culpability, perhaps I've passed on more than just my Chinese eyes.


أبو سنان said...

Genetics is weird like that. Sometimes there is no explaination. There is a genetic link to autism, so I think that is how we ended up with two children with the issue, although my wife says there are no other cases of it she knows of on her side and there certainly are not on ours.

As to looks, it can go either way. Both of our boys turned out VERY white, blondish hair and hazel eyes, from my side of course. But Sayf seems to have sort of Asian eyes, which could be from the Asian blood on my mother in laws side.

Sorry to hear about the little one. I hope he is doing fine!

Anonymous said...

Dh and myself look completely different. Back home pple would *tease* us that we were from malaysia,indonesia or anywhere those sides. Yes, we do have smaller eyes and kinda look like pple from Java,lol. I think my kids mixed both sides but got most of their physical traits from my side of the family. I hope the kids are doing fine, isn't genetic a big joke on us?? Sometimes we end with things/traits/dna that we don't want, yallah,kher inshallah. sf

Mama Kalila said...

my family jokes about chinese eyes as well... several of us have them. mine you can barely tell unless i put on eyeliner, but when i was pg all the sudden it was very obvious. but we know where it comes from... that side of my family (well both really) has a lot of native american blood... so pretty shaped eyes lol. looks like kalila got them too, but not entirely sure because jas' eyes are only slightly diff.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Sister:

Could your children be experiencing reactions to something in their environment? Insha Allah you'll find out what's going on soon. Poor little guy.

I have two cousins with Chinese-type eyes; their father had them, too.

Anonymous said...

AA Daisy,

You are so right, school's almost out!:( I only have 6 more days of sanity! Sorry to hear about Little Buddy. How old was his sister when her seizures started? I'm sure it has to be quite frightening for you and for them.Insh'Allah all will be well for all of you.Tina

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

أبو سنان - Alhumdulillah, it's a week and a half now and no more seizures. I'm wondering if both our issue with epilepsy and yours with autism could have manifested itself in unrecognizable ways within other family members. For example, "lesser" seizures such as just blinking-out for a few moments may not be recognized by the sufferer as epilepsy just like high-functioning Asperger's may not be recognized as Autism.

sf- I've met Yemenis (a country with a history of mixing with Indonesians) that look more Asian than Arab by far. One of my friends grandmother's was Indonesian and even my friend's grandchildren look more Indonesian than Arab...that's how many generations and the traits stubbornly stuck!

Mama Kalila- my mom's side has native American blood, really far back though. We're thinking that's where the eyes come from cuz they certainly ain't Irish and cousin Suzy is on my mom's side.

Safiyyah- salams, I swear I've been going through everything in my mind trying to work out where these seizures came from. I've been asking around too to see if there's a higher incidence of epilepsy that may indicate an environmental factor but so far nada.

Tina- EttaMae was 7 last year whe hers first struck. Al-Humdulillah I was taught about seizures in high-school as well as a do/don't do list and videos so I was able to keep a cool head.

always in the kitchen said...

Hi Daisy,ds no 5 has them,they started after vaccinations.The other ped had limited the type and number of vaxes for the other kids,but the new ped wasn't listening...within the hour he had a seizure collapse at age 3 and then has started having 3-4 a year since age 6.They try to tell me there's no corellation?
My prayer is he grows out of them.I'm sending the same prayer your way for your family.
Ds has said It's a bit like having a dragon in the closet.You never know when he'll pop out.

mezba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mezba said...

sorry to hear about the little one.

actually wanted to know - how good is health care in saudi?

i always heard "mixed" kids are the best!

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

alwaysinthekitchen-I've heard of kids having them after vaccinations, but I didn't know they'd continue. No correlation my foot! How old is he now...does he have a "feeling" like they're going to hit? My son lets out an unholy screech and is whiny before he seizes.

Mezba- I once heard a comic on tv say that its guaranteed that two ugly people of two different races will get together and have a beautiful true! The healthcare here is free...which is the best thing. However, you get what you pay for.

always in the kitchen said...

Yes he has a sense something is coming and has learned to immediately sit down,otherwise he can whack his head pretty hard which means a trip to the emergency room for a cat scan.
If it's a big one he usually makes a kind of grunting noise when it starts.
The last one was pretty weird in that he had an idea something was coming so we went and sat in my classroom and I gave him some pumpkin bread and juice to eat.He was talking to me and shaking from head to toe on his right side.
The doctors have said it's not typical epilepsy so atypical?
I just try to do the things recommended in the books and that I've found online,i.e.regular scheduale,no skipping meals,careful with too much junkfood,stay hydrated when your outside playing etc.It stll scares the **** out of me when it happens though.

أبو سنان said...


You are right, in the past people with Autism, at least the high functioning sort, were just considered odd or eccentric. Some people think historical figures like Einstein, Beethoven and Thomas Jefferson had it.

The seizure thing is scary for me, I have never been around it. I have read it is common in some kids with autism, but alhamdulillah, it is an issue we havent had to deal with.

I have heard that sometimes it is present just in childhood and goes away later. Hopefully that is the case with your little one.

the crazy jogger said...

damn! that pic is freakish

I'm Pakistani with a BIG ancestorial background, living in saudi arabia since birth. for some reason I look like an arab version of Eminem, how? I have no idea n I dont thnk tht i do but other ppl say so. n ofc i've been called an arab. I've been sometimes successful in using this to my advantage in places where they discriminate against expats :D

and sometimes when we go to pakistan n then there is tons of rain, all my siblings get sick. so is this something due to the surroundings?
hope not n wish he's better now

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

alwaysinthekitchen- talking AND shaking! kids both lose consciousness. I videoed Buddy during the last one on my mobile to show the doc's whats happening. He mainly convulses on his right side, with his eyes rolled up to the right too. EttaMae's are slightly different; she froze for a whole 10 seconds or so before she started shaking, like someone pressed the pause button as she glares straight ahead with her limbs stiff. The second convulsion she had after taking anticonvulsants she just froze for half a minute then fell asleep with no shaking. Poor MaryJo won't let Buddy wander out of her eyesight if she's sitting with him while I'm doing housework. She's worried he'll start seizing on the stairs or someplace he'll get hurt. I have to remain extra-calm when she's around so she follows my cue when dealing with their seizures because with the first ones, she went into full-fledged panic, the poor kid!

أبو سنان - the statistics say the vast majority of people who get a seizure, never have one again. It's only a small minority who continue to have them. We'll keep him on the anticonvulsants for a short while then I'll ween him off of them and see what happens.

the crazy jogger- I met so many Pakistanis at uni in England who'd also been born and raised in Saudia but hardly knew a word of Arabic, although they spoke perfect American English thanks to the American schools in Riyadh. Are you one of those lot or have you "gone native"? Many around here too, especially those with sickle-cell and Thalassaemia get really sick with cold-weather and rain. I'm still wondering if there's an environmental cause.

the crazy jogger said...

LOL naw my arabic is bad. n I mean it. its prolly cuz of the fact tht I dont have much interaction with Saudi's who speak Arabic. I live in a large compound w/ tons of arabs but they like to improve their english by talking to us!! tht's why my arabic is totally basic. like what to say when cops stop u n buying stuff

I havnt gone native either. I always wear shirts n jeans n not thobes.
I've been called Syrian alot.. maybe tht would explain me. but alhamdulliah I can use many accents
American schools have really nothing to do w/ good eng. My friends r from Pakistani n Indian n Bangladeshi School(s). It just depends on how mch u talk

PS: whn ever there is a dust storm i get a severe headache. 18 years n counting!

always in the kitchen said...

I've never had the presence of mind to video when it hits.This year there's only been four,two falling and unconciousess and then really groggy afterwards,the weird one,and one that seemed more like an absence /fainting one.
Bathing freaks me out I'm afraid he'll fall or drown.He's eleven so hopefully,prayerfully he'll out grow them....

UmmFarouq said...

I passed on traits to my daughter I did not even know I had. She looks Filipina. I am from Alabama. No Asian blood whatsoever in our genepool. None.

She also has eczema. No one has that, either.

I like that she has that exotic look to her. I just get tired of being asked if I'm my kids' stepmom.

May Allah bless and protect your family.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

the crazy jogger- headaches are one of the ways I've learned to predict the coming of a duststorm:)

always in the kitchen- the neurologist told me that bathing is a particular issue for epileptics and even adults should consider take some precautions such as 1)bathing only when other people are in the house and informing them first 2) no baths. 3)sitting down while showering if possible. God willing they'll both grow out of it.

Ummfarouq- you made me laugh because EttaMae doesn't look like she belongs to me. Despite my Chinese eyes, people have asked if her 'real mom' is Korean (when her fuzzy hair is smoothed out)! I don't know if you knew this fact but, eczema is the same trait as asthma manifested in different places. I got hit with both asthma/eczema, MaryJo with eczema and Buddy with eczema. Perhaps there are some asthmatics in the family?

UmmFarouq said...

Well, that explains it! I'm the culprit w/ the asthma. I did not know that eczema/asthma were linked. SubhanAllah.

Lex said...

ROFL....I just lost it when I read:
"Daisy: *?!?*"

You have no idea how many questions I get. Even many Japanese ask me if I'm part Japanese! It's amazing. Can't go anywhere without the "What are you?" question coming up. And answering "A carbon based life form" doesn't seem to cut it.

I can't have wind on my face either when I'm having a period of the Trigeminal Neuralgia, leading me to wear hats and scarves and looking rather like I'm in hijab. Therefore, I regularly get asked "Are you Islamic?", which I just think is a hilariously posed question. It is, however, how most people seem to phrase it, which keeps my Muslim friends giggling as well. Usually I will get asked within the same day if I am Israeli. Or if I'm Sarah Silverman. Um yep, I'm serious.

Actually I'm half-Ionian Greek (Greek speaking Orthodox Christians from what is now Turkey), but my family came to the U.S. in the 1880s and we're completely assimilated. I just still look "fresh off the boat" as people say. What is it with people though? Honestly.

Hope the kids are OK, but some of those anti-convulsant drugs are just so hard on the body (I've been on a few for Trigeminal Neuralgia). Eeek. And yeah, lots of Asperger's Syndrome in my family. Some of my older/now dead relatives were considered extremely eccentric, especially as Greeks in America in the late Victorian era who were well off.

Ugh, is there any release of these neuro/medical issues? It seems as if there is no end to them! At least we can keep confusing people with our eye-folds....HAHA! Great post.

aliyah06 said...

My son started having seizures at 11 also. He is 18 now. The seizures have been linked to a brain anomaly he was born with (not genetic--in utero damage, probably a stroke), but it took the onset of adolescence to trigger them. His neurologist has Rx'd 750 mg depalept chrono 500 2x/day, topamax 150 mg 2x/day and neurontin (gabapentim) 400 mg 3x/day. Since we started this regime, his previously fairly common absence and partial seizures have stopped completely. Another factor that helps is 9hours sleep every night, and a nap every afternoon--for some reason, sleep is crucial.

I hope that by the time you read this, he is completely well.

6flowers said...

Genetics in human beings is rarely as simple as rec or dom genes acting in simple pairs. Scientist believe that there are at least 11 genes that code for eye color in various combinations from grey to hazel to black. Similarly there is most likely no one gene that codes for seizures and this can be caused by anything from a virus to environmental factors in the womb. Also due to recombination genes are shuffled during the creation of sperm or egg. Genes that were never expressed in a mother can come to be fully expressed in the daughter.

6flowers said...

Genetics in human beings is rarely as simple as rec or dom genes acting in simple pairs. Scientist believe that there are at least 11 genes that code for eye color in various combinations from grey to hazel to black. Similarly there is most likely no one gene that codes for seizures and this can be caused by anything from a virus to environmental factors in the womb. Also due to recombination genes are shuffled during the creation of sperm or egg. Genes that were never expressed in a mother can come to be fully expressed in the daughter.

Salihah סליחה صالحه said...

I have that Epilepsy gene! I used to wish it would have skipped me, but Allah swt meant it for me. : ) My sister got the luscious black waves of hair, I got dishwater blonde hair and epilepsy. I guess that's how the cookie crumbles. ; )

Anonymous said...

The photos are not of Chinese eyes. Do you know any Chinese people?