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Speaking of sneezing…

November 21st, 2003 · 3 Comments

A quick note here, while I’m thinking about sneezing…ha! ah – choo ….I smiled to see this “Confessions of a Photic Sneezer” on Fragments from Floyd as I was reading late tonight – another ACHOO sufferer: someone who has “Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioopthalmic Outburst Syndrome”.

For all my life I’ve “sneezed in the sun” – that’s how I knew to describe it. My dad, a doctor, told me years ago, when I was a child, that it was a gene I inherited from him. Whenever my face hits the sunlight for the first time in a while, coming out of darkness, a house, car, or tunnel, I sneeze and he does too. Through the years I lost touch with my father, but I always would think of him when the sun tickled my nose. He was the only other person in the world I knew who had this reaction to the light.

When I had my first child, I thought about my dad a lot. Whenever I’d buckle my baby girl in the backseat of the car and go for a drive, as soon as the sun would shine on her face, she’d sneeze too. A little achoo from the back seat behind me. And I’d think about my dad, now a grandfather, and the legacy he left behind, if not in our hearts, then in our genes.

Recently things between Dad and me have improved. We’re writing each other more often. I know where he is now. And recently I also had a chance to ask my brother and sister about this sneezing gene – turns out they have it too. My brother uses it strategically sometimes to clear his head. Anyway. it’s funny how biology binds us together. Although relationships in my family at times have been distant, there’s always the physical bond in the body, my heritage made flesh, the shape of my fingers, the curve of my nose. Sneezing in the sun always reminded me of the dad who was distant, the dad I wished I knew better, the dad who was still a part of me in some way, despite the time and space between us….

And it’s funny to read Fred’s experience, and the comments of his readers too, to know that I’m not alone “sneezing in the sun”.(…wow, according to his link , ACHOO, or photic sneezing, has appeared in Bernstein Bears books and was noticed by Aristotle….I think too that I do sneeze twice, as noted in the reports, and the Autosomal explains the inheritance….I think maybe even all my girls have gotten it…)

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 fredf // Nov 21, 2003 at 1:35 am

    Nicely woven piece, taking the ordinary and trivial to write to depth and then resurface. Nice symmetry and a good start to my day (also symmetry since your yesterday ended on my page!)

  • 2 fredf // Nov 21, 2003 at 1:56 am

    SOrry. I looked for an email but failing that, will use a comment window. Just wondering if you know your blog covers one and a half of my 19 inch monitor set at 1162 x 864 res and I’m guessing it may not be just me. I haven’t the foggiest notion how to remedy this, and it might just be my browser (MSIE6). Just a bit of hopefully helpful feedback as you tidy up your very nice space in the blogworld.

  • 3 Martin // Nov 22, 2003 at 6:00 am

    It was Fred’s comment that brought me here.
    Yes, it is a wonderful piece !

    When we update Photic sneezing resources http://www.photic-sneezing.fr.st/, I would like to put a link.

    May I ?