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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

Sequencing the Genome

‘Hello, Doctor. I gather you’ve got my test results?’

‘Yes, Mr Morrison. Please sit down. Here’s the printout of your genetic code, your genome.

‘What does it all mean?’

‘Well, our genetic code is the blueprint for how our bodies are made. Once, it took years to get this information. Now we can obtain a complete genome in ten minutes from just one strand of hair. It tells us if patients are at risk of developing certain medical conditions. Treatments or lifestyle changes can then be recommended to reduce risks.’

‘What have you found from mine?’

‘Well, you’ve genes that cause fat, sugar and salt to be metabolised unusually quickly. That means it’s important you eat a lot of takeaways, cakes, chocolate and snack foods. It would also be best to avoid vegetables.’

‘I see. Are there other lifestyle factors I should bear in mind?’

‘How much alcohol do you drink?’

‘Two glasses of wine a night.’

‘That’s probably not enough. You’ve genes which lead to over activity of the liver. It’s important to give the liver lots to do. Processing alcohol is particularly beneficial.’

‘How much should I drink?’

‘A wine box a day. Perhaps a few beers and the odd scotch too - just to be safe.’

‘That sounds expensive.’

‘Don’t worry. Due to your medical condition, wine, beer and spirits can be supplied free by the National Heath Service. Just order them at the pharmacy as you leave. They’ll deliver to your door.’

‘What are the genes marked on the chart in red?’

‘I’m afraid they’re a particular problem. You’re at very high risk of difficulties in the genital region.’

‘That sounds worrying. Is there any treatment?’

‘There’s one very effective therapy, but it requires you to have very regular sex with a constant stream of attractive young women. Once again, don’t worry. We can arrange for these to be provided free by the NHS. Here’s a catalogue.’

‘My wife may object.’

‘Yes, partners sometimes initially raise some concerns, but our community nurse can assist her in coming to terms with your therapy. Also, there are support groups.’

‘Is that everything?’

‘Not quite. You could be prone to problems with the muscles that control your eyes. It’s important that they undertake sufficient movement, but it’s also critical to avoid tiring yourself with unnecessary exercise. We often recommend staying in bed until at least lunchtime every day whilst watching football on TV - Sky sports channels are available on prescription. That also provides an excellent opportunity to administer medicinal alcohol and undertake sexual therapy.’

‘My employer might have a problem with all that time away from work.’

‘I can sign a certificate so your boss allows you time off for treatment. You have a right to expect support for your disabilities. With your complex medical problems, you’ll need understanding and sympathy from everyone, possibly for years. Do you think you’ll be able to cope with the treatments and lifestyle demands?’

‘Well, spookily, I already engage in some, and I’ve thought I’d like to try the others.’

‘It’s remarkable how the body sometimes unconsciously knows what it needs. I think, if you can stick to the regime, you’ll have a very good prognosis.’

‘Thank you, Doctor. I’ll do my best. Good day.’