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In the present day, the northerners are aware that some of their children have a genetic disease called Amukiiron. Amukiiron is rarely apparent at birth, unless a baby is born with the characteristic bilateral inturning clubfoot. However, the disease generally becomes apparent by the time a child reaches the age where cohorts are formally recognized.
In its mildest form, you see short stature due to short arms and legs, joint pain, mild to moderate scoliosis of the spine, an increased tendency toward suffering from arthritis due to both age and injury, unusually positioned thumbs, and a tendency toward walking with the toes pointed inward. In youth, joints are very flexible, but somewhat prone to breakage.
In its most severe form, you see clubfoot, more pronounced thumb displacement, extremely short arms and legs with corresponding very short stature (what we would call dwarfism), mild to severe scoliosis of the spine, difficulties with some movements due to joint irregularities starting in childhood, and very early onset of arthritis. Because of the difficulties in movement, strength and stamina are affected.
Regardless of the severity of the disease, extra care is taken with these children to keep their hands and feet warm, since there is a belief that they may suffer from poor circulation as a result of the skeletal differences.
The primary Itadesh healer has custody of an Ancient illustrated anatomy text. Folded inside are copies of detailed instructions (with illustrations) for treating newborns born with clubfoot by repeatedly, and very precisely, manipulating the foot and casting the foot and leg (up to the crotch) to allow the tendons to stretch and the foot position to normalize. The procedure is complex, requiring 6 or 7 castings over the same number of weeks, followed by wearing a special brace with shoes that hold the feet positioned in the proper shape and held apart with a bar. If the procedure is done correctly, some people born with clubfoot are able to walk normally; others are left with problems due to a short Achilles tendon. If it is done improperly, the document warns, the club foot can be made worse. There is mention of a "simple operative procedure" to correct the tendon problem, but the tools and knowledge to perform the procedure have been lost. Extra copies of the instructions for handling clubfoot are kept by healers in the other villages.
The northerners make padded boots for those whose Achilles tendons remain too short, and extra care is taken with the footgear of the cured children as well, because the risk of relapse, while small, is real.
When a person with Amukiiron is capable and interested, they are welcomed into the rangers even when their presence would cause some inconvenience, because they are unusually sensitive to the presence of the Others and because of the hope that they might sense Otherweather storms (which drive the Others down lower than usual) and the earthquakes that sometimes accompany them before they are a danger. However, Ranger is rarely a long-term occupation for someone with the disease, since the progressive arthritis eventually makes climbing on and off of snowy-back several times a day too difficult.
People with Amukiiron are cautioned not to risk having a child with anyone whose family has this disease for four generations back, however many people with Amukiiron choose not to have children because of the risk of passing the disease on. Parents with a child who suffers from Amukiiron, are cautioned not to have children with anyone whose family has this disease for two generations back (which includes not having another child with each other). This can add a significant number of people to the list of people who are, in effect, “complicated cousins”, though the stricture is not formalized as such. It should be noted that even parents who both have the gene will have a child with the disease only one-quarter of the time, and same percentage their children would not even be carriers.
Amukiiron is most prevalent in Itadesh, but can appear anywhere in the north.
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