In the Blood

Yesterday I was exhausted, and found it difficult to focus. Although I’ve been continuing with volunteer activities and now working at a job I love, for the last month or so (but probably starting about a year ago), my energy for all these things has been waning. I’ve had difficulty sleeping, as well, because of night muscle cramps in my legs. Funny how one can adapt to little losses like that; you think something’s off, but just try to shoulder on; you adjust, but then things start piling up. It took awhile for me to remember that I have anemia, and need to do something about it. So, recently, I’ve been dosing myself with blackstrap mollasses, iron supplements and vitamins. I’ve had to break my semi-veg diet; yesterday I ate a hamburger (a damn good one). Today I actually feel some interest in things, and the muscles are feeling somewhat normal, less twitchy.

Now I’m reading about blood and hemoglobin, which is fascinating stuff. One website (from Austin Community College) presents an economic analogy for how the bloodstream delivers oxygen to the body. Think of your lungs as a factory, the tissues of your body as a Target store, M&Ms as oxygen, as the writer explains:

“The M&M factory (here the lungs) produces M&M’s (oxygen). In order to make money, the M&M’s must be sold and one of the places that sells them are Target stores. Thus there must be a way to transport the M&M’s to stores, including Target (the tissues). So, the M&M company has trucks (Hb [hemoglobin]) to deliver the M&M’s. The trucks are completley filled at the M&M factory and then travel the highways and biways to the stores. When they arrive at the Target store, the truck unloads the M&M’s and then returns back to the factory. Now, how many M&M’s are delivered? It really depends on how many M&M’s the store has sold since the last delivery. If, for example, no M&M’s were sold, none would be delivered; if 10 boxes were sold, ten would be delivered. So, the amount of M&M’s delivered depends on the amount of M&M’s sold (used) by the store. This is the same with oxygen delivery to the tissues, Hb must be able to deliver more oxygen to those tissues that need more oxygen – tissues that use more oxygen need to have more oxygen delivered. Hb does this!”

Blood is a transport system, a system of migration, moving nutrients here and there within a body; and hemoglobin a molecule of protein that contains iron ions, magnetic bits that bind oxygen to the blood coursing through veins and arteries. I think that microbes within the body must view or sense the blood streams as dark, pulsing rivers, on which tide they rise and fall.

The vision of blood as economy or transport is far from analogies of blood loss to energy loss or loss of sexual vitality, and loss of self for a greater cause that I grew up with from movies and books. There’s the blood lust of vampires starving for life-giving fluid that you see in movies and novels. Many myths and tales involve blood: the Philippine aswang — the nighttime paraplegic vampire (seeking viscera to replace the lower half of its body); the blood-lettings, finger-prickings, and blood-red colored cloaks and dresses in fairy tales; sacrifices of blood — even just one drop — in order to gain love, or wealth and glory; we sometimes relate natural events to blood, such as the October “blood moon.” And there are the bloody symbols of religion and folk spirituality: communions offering wine as blood; fingertips pricked to create blood bonds; blood sacrifices and martyrdoms, fluid transfers of energy. In horror movies — even in an occasionally humorous TV series like Grimm — we need to see blood and gore; the baroque overkill of such scenes marks ugly woundings and losses, bomb blasts, and frenzied murder. We know violence is part of the reality of everyday life, but dare to face it only in the realm of fantasy.

Blood is economy and transport; blood is emotion and bond; blood is violence; blood is sex, sign, augury, magic.

So we make meaning of this alarming crimson sea within, which signals the state of our life force, or impending death and metamorphosis.