Thursday, August 28, 2014
Oh Double Helix Of Mine
Another birthday has come and gone. One of the gifts I received this year was a DNA test from my son-in-law. I've been thinking about getting one for a long time and I'm so excited! I know very little about DNA, but I'm hoping this test will prove or disprove the rumored Native American blood in my tree. But can it? I'm not sure. It would be a very small amount and over 200 years in the past. But that's not all that long ago genetically speaking, is it? I did some reading at Ancestry, where the test came from and I'm still not confident about what to expect. I did learn on their site that the MT DNA test I was thinking about getting is primarily useful for tracking your maternal line's migration out of Africa 20,000 years ago, so in my case is probably not worth the cost.
But back to the test at hand. Here at Ellie's Ancestor's, we pride ourselves on reading directions as a last resort only. The ones accompanying the test were very short however, and I really wanted to get this right...so I skimmed them. Then I started worrying--what if I had just eaten a chicken leg for dinner, would the chicken's DNA be mixed up with mine? Would toothpaste affect the results? So finally I read the whole thing, (all ten sentences), and yes, you should wait half an hour after eating or drinking before doing the test. It was 10 pm when I read all this, and had eaten some popcorn and brushed my teeth so I had to wait until at least 10:30. But around 11 I got thirsty and unthinkingly had a glass of pop, damn! Now it would be 11:30 before I could test. I waited an extra 20 minutes to be safe, (NOTHING must go wrong with this), and around midnight I began.
By the way, the cheek swab thing is apparently in the past, at least over at Ancestry. The box contained a tube with a small funnel conveniently attached into which one is required to spit. And keep on spitting until the black line is reached, (not including bubbles), DO NOT overfill! So of course I went over the black line. I dumped a little out but it was too much, so back to spitting. After what I judged to be the the right amount of spit had been deposited in the tube, I twisted the funnel off and replaced it with a cap containing a blue liquid that is released when you screw it onto the tube. It stabilizes the DNA, and you know it's working right when the blue liquid streams into the tube with the carefully gathered spit. This threw me again. Was it tight enough? I didn't want any leaks, NOTHING must go wrong with this test! So I gave it another twist...was that a crack I heard? Was it too tight? I have actually broken plastic caps by twisting them too tightly, but no it was fine, whew! Now the tube gets sealed in a little bio-hazard bag, inserted into the provided postage paid box, and mailed to the lab.
This presented another challenge. My local mail delivery leaves a bit to be desired. I regularly receive mail intended for my neighbors, and on several occasions have gotten mail meant for the next town over! I was not about to trust my precious DNA test to those yokels. Instead I took it to work and put it in my drawer, (rather than leave it in a hot car), and afterwards, mailed it from the large post office across the street. Leaving nothing to chance, I took it inside and stood in line 20 minutes so I could place it directly in the clerk's hands. He found this odd for some reason.
When I arrived home I returned to Ancestry's site to register my test's numbers. You are a number, not a name as far as the test is concerned. Right...you have to log in to do this, so it seems to me they know exactly who you are, but since I have no outstanding warrents and no immediate plans to commit a felony I'm not really concerned by this. What did concern me was making sure I got the numbers on my test entered correctly, so I went over it several times and then made my husband triple check it. DNA is nerve wracking!
Now all I have to do is wait. The web site said 6 to 8 weeks, so I figure I'll have my results by Halloween. Which somehow seems very appropriate.