Gene Therapy for What Ails You

by Brice Carroll on July 1, 2005 - 2:08pm

QUEST Vol. 12, No. 4

Learning about advances in the search for a cure to neuromuscular diseases using gene therapy is exciting. And even though I’ll be very happy when they learn to use such methods to cure my muscular dystrophy, there are a few other adjustments I’d like to have that gene therapy won’t fix.

I know that it’ll be a shock to those who know me best to hear me say this, but after being cured of my muscle disease, I still won’t be perfect.

Achieving perfection

To be or not to be perfect, that is the question. I admit that after gene therapy I’ll still need a few improvements before reaching perfection from my current state of near perfection.

Take my height, for example. Since I’m in a wheelchair, no one can really tell how tall I am. But when my disease is cured, and I can stand up, everyone’ll be able to see that I measure only 5 feet 8 inches. That’s height, not circumference.

Though it’s not extremely short, it might keep me out of the NBA. But with several thousand hours of practice and divine intervention, I could still get there. I could!

Another thing that gene therapy can’t do is make me younger. Not that I’m old. I still don’t look a day over 30, which makes my wife, Sharon, happy. I know it makes her happy because every time I tell her that, she laughs for a long time.

But it’s true. You just have to be able to see past the gray, the wrinkles, the extra weight and the wisdom in the eyes to see the young me. Though for some reason, I’m the only one who can see the wisdom in the eyes.

Coping with imperfect people

Gene therapy also won’t give me more patience with lesser beings. I have yet to find such lesser beings and I’m losing patience with the search. I know they’re out there; they just seem to be hiding from us greater beings.

Neither will gene therapy help in coping with cranky people, such as my wife or my neighbors. Sharon is cranky a lot. Every time I forget her birthday, our anniversary or Valentine’s Day; when I wait until just before the stores close on Christmas Eve to buy her presents; or any other such minor thing, she gets cranky with me.

And my neighbors: They complain every time I accidentally run my wheelchair over their flowers, chase their dog or politely remind them that their garage is too messy. They’re just too sensitive.

I’ve even been accused of being cranky myself. To have such an unfair accusation leveled at me really ticks me off and puts me in a bad mood for hours.

Beauty

Gene therapy won’t help with the looks department either. But apparently I don’t need any help with that. Not once has anyone ever told me that I need to be better-looking. Though I’ve noticed a few people cringe when they see me, that’s probably more to do with my personality.

And Sharon tells me I have an inner beauty that shines through. I’m sure she meant my inner handsomeness. But either way, the thought of my inner anything shining through is very embarrassing.

As far as my personality is concerned, Sharon said everyone who really understands me, loves me. It would really have been better if she hadn’t added the part about not really understanding me about half the time.

Brains

Brice Carroll
Brice Carroll, a retired accountant, lives in Hot Springs, Ark. He has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.

Gene therapy also won’t make me smarter. But I’m already pretty smart because I understand calculus. Or tolerate it anyway. To be honest, I don’t really know what it is, but it can’t be too hard because I was never taught about it and I use it every day.

I’m pretty sure I’m correct in assuming that when you use a calculator, you’re doing calculus.

But apparently Sharon thinks I need to be smarter. I’ve just picked up on a few subtle clues. Such as when she told me that the main thing I need is new genes for my brain.

I replied that I don’t need a bigger brain. She said she didn’t mean a bigger brain, just a brain, period. Then she said she was only teasing; she knew I had a brain. She just wished I had one with wrinkles in it.

But she has it backwards. I’m really too smart. At least too much of a smart aleck. Of course you can’t tell by my serious-minded, scholarly writing. But I generally have difficulty holding in funny but not very … let’s say productive, verbal comments.

Because of that, until I get my new muscle genes, I’ll have a very fast wheelchair.

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