Hoisting a Pint

or, the Annals of Polycythemia Vera (in Vera Veritas)

Two weeks ago I went to LifeSource and got a pint of blood removed. I go again on Tuesday. I asked the phlebotomist why my blood couldn't be donated and she said because it won't be tested. Which of course begs the question.... Why not test it?

I think the blood-letting has helped. I may be getting less red in the face and sweating less upon exertion and upon hot-flashing.

The other morning I woke up and thought I heard that British veterans with my disease were suing the govenrment. I figured it had to be part of my dreamworld, but it was real. Apparently hundreds of British and New Zealand servicemen witnessed nuclear tests in the South Pacific in the 1950s, and claim that the radiation exposure caused them to develop polycythemia and other illnesses. Some suffered immediate effects from the radiation: "Several chaps lost teeth, and others lost their hair," according to a serviceman who was 18 at the time and a radio operator aboard a HMS. "So a lot of wives and sweethearts waited in Devonport to welcome back bald fiances and bald boyfriends with a few teeth missing," Others developed PV later or cancers. Some 700 of them have banded together to sue the British Dept. of Defence for compensation.

The former radio operator quoted above was diagnosed with polycythemia in 1974. The BBC refers to it as "a rare form of blood cancer" that his doctors have linked to his exposure to radiation. (For his sake and the sake of the lawsuit, the disease should be as dire as possible; it's sometimes considered pre-cancerous, as a small percentage of people with it develop leukemia, and it's sometimes considered cancer, but it's not really cancer-cancer.)

I felt like saying, "Aha," when I read about the British lawsuit, though I have never sailed the high seas for the United Kingdom. I'm of a mind to blame large institutions for bad things that happen to people. (See my book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Blame the Military-Industrial Complex. ;>))But I was never around a nuclear test. I had a lot of chest X-rays as a child because of my asthma and the two times I had pneumonia, but how could I ever prove a connection between the X-rays and the polycythemia? I'm not part of a group of sailors or soldiers or anything else that had repeated chest X-rays. I am a lone Cancer Bitch from the lone prairie. With extra-thick blood and a bad attitude.