Color blind and the fringes of hair


Ann Kuehn - Contributing columnist



Sex-linked characteristics is a medical condition involving sex-linked recessive genes carried by the human female.

The symptoms — color blindness, baldness, and hemophilia — appear only in her male offspring. Daughters may or may not be carriers.

Of the three, hemophilia — the inability of blood to clot — was historically fatal. Today it is successfully treated pharmaceutically with Factor Replacement Therapies.

Queen Victoria was the most notable carrier. Her recessive gene was transmitted through two daughters, Princesses Alice and Beatrice, which in turn affected the histories of Germany, Spain, and most famously, or infamously, Russia.

If my research is correct, and it isn’t always, the Victorian factor appeared in one son, Leopold (England); three grandsons, Leopold and Maurice (Battenburg), and Fredrick (Hesse); and six grandsons, Waldemar and Henrich (Prussia), Rupert (Teck); Alonzo and Gonzalo (Spain); and Alexis (Russia).

Royalty may be on the wane, but thank goodness for Factor Replacement. The world is in enough of a mess.

Where is this leading? I am a carrier.

My two sons fortunately missed hemophilia. While each is color blind, one has a full head of hair, the other a fringe. I have no idea who among my mother’s huge family (eight siblings) is, other than she is a carrier or recipients, and don’t care enough to find out.

The diagnosis of color blindness was from a very astute pediatrician who showed each son a color chart of red and green dots, and asked each to pick out the animal hidden in the dots. Neither could. How do you explain “green” to someone who only sees “gray”. You can’t.

Traffic lights are not problematic. The green light shows as a bright gray, and they know it is the bottom light.

There was always a problem with matching socks, shirts, and pants, but it has been decades since my fashion choices were required.

The baldness is a very sore point. Fortunately the baldy has a perfectly shaped head (all he lacks is a lollipop), and alas, he had the most beautiful brown curly hair.

The one with hair has just hair, but he has had a white streak since puberty, now faded into his general gray-white.

One of his sister’s sons inherited the same, which due to his relative youth stands out. It is all rather intriguing.

“Bald is still beautiful” and now the male populace is enamored by facial hair. Stubble, stubble, everywhere; not to mention mustachioed faces and beards of alarming proportions. How messy! How unhygienic!

I too have a hair issue. It is very fine, unmanageable, and increasingly thinning. As a child and adolescent, my hair was very curly. Not good.

Curly hair does what it wants, which means I have no idea of “styling”. With every pregnancy it became straighter, but better that than varicose veins.

Immediately after washing it curls into Shirley Temples, which collapse at the first brush stroke — thus a constant ponytail or bun. My hair started to gray when I was in my early 30s, sending me shrieking to my hairdresser.

“Ann”, he intoned,” it is better to have old hair and a young face than young hair and an old face”.

Great — now I have both!

Ann Kuehn resides at Ohio Living Cape May in Wilmington. She says, “I gravitated to Ohio at age 18 and never left” and moved to Sabina in 1987.

Ann Kuehn

Contributing columnist