Jaime Gerber
Aplastic Anemia

There was blood everywhere. Wherever you looked in the room, crowded with emergency teams and hospital gear, there were mounds of crimson, surrounded by little lakes of thinner burgundy oozing out from the central goo into the bed sheets around. And on the floor. The floor was slippery with maroon nectar of life, the central essence of all humans, all animals. The flowing connector of all organs, and of all species of animal. The sight of large amounts of blood triggers a primordial fear in every living creature. The scent is never forgotten but not easily described. The innate reaction of terror, impending doom, death, horrible to see and more horrible to exit. 

 

And on her. And on us. And me. Especially me. I was up front in this fight. Not so for every battle, but definitely for this one. Annie. She was about my age. Also, about my height and build revealing her once athletic pursuits that she told me about during the long on call nights I spent hanging O+ bags of life’s sweet essence in order to balance her out for a while. 

 

Aplastic anemia. Bad back then. Now maybe not as much, with transplants and such. But back then in my internship it was among the worst diagnoses to give. To garner, even worse. A relentless slide into increasing antibodies against all blood products, allergic reactions, wicked hemolysis where your own cells burst from the onslaught of antibodies confused by all the transfusions. Until your liver finally caved in and cirrhosis started. That’s what happened to Annie. It caught her blindsided. Never did she consider that the remaining parts of her once toned gymnasts frame would ever fail her. The marrow is hidden. Deep, where? But the liver. We all know about that. Where it is, what it looks like, the color and texture familiar from the meat case in the supermarket. How could that fail? And then what?

 

Massive bleeding veins in the stomach. Varices. Uncle Bobby had them on his leg. How bad could it be? Blood everywhere. At first a minor cough and a feeling of nausea, Upchucking just a little, like a bad taco. Look down horrified at the vibrating, throbbing clot in the Kleenex. Q moment of false quiet. Thes sense of dread as the salty, angry taste welled up in the back of her throat. A cough. Violent. Not like a cold, but a deep expulsion of evil humors rotting away inside. Then the blood. Everywhere. Then the silence.