DevBio exam’s Monday. I’ve switched from lower limb and pelvis muscle to development. Luckily the practice exams haven’t been too tortuous (anatomy is a different story). We spend a lot of time in developmental biology learning about mutations and teratogens (things that cause abnormalities in fetuses). If you’ve ever done any medical or scientific work, you know that medicine has learned about normal development through abnormal cases. (Phineas Gage is a common example used in Intro to Psych classes.)
So, anyway, sirenomelia is a rare developmental abnormality, where legs never form. Its root–sireno–means “mermaid-like,” coming from the Sirens of Ulysses’s voyage, I’m sure. When I was reading about the condition, I was sent back about 10 months, when I tried reading this book, Geek Love. I say tried because I couldn’t get through the first 100 pages. It was too trauamatizing. The basic plot is this: A couple run a circus sideshow, and in order to keep business up, the wife gets pregnant a number of times, and takes a number of different teratogens (like thalidomide, alcohol, exposes herself to radiation) to produce children with many congenital abnormalities. I guess it’s an interesting concept for a book, but it was too gruesome for me, I guess. (The old meaning of ‘geek’ used to be someone with some sort of abnormality or deformity, hence the title.) I don’t know why I’m writing about it. Study break, I guess. I don’t recommend the book.
If you want a good book, try something by Wally Lamb, You Shall Know Our Velocity, which I’m currently enjoying, or God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, a little ditty by Kurt Vonnegut which might be my favorite book of all time. I try to give it to everyone I can.