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The Bloody Blood in Your Veins

A half satire, half science on what we really are.

By Rene Volpi Published about a month ago 7 min read
Top Story - April 2024
18
The Bloody Blood in Your Veins
Photo by Europeana on Unsplash

Our Origins

Today, I read something I didn't know—one more thing to add to all the other things I didn't know. By the time I grow up, I’ll have a collection. But it was intriguing, and it inspired me to write this post. I hope you enjoy it.

Did you know that all human blood comes from a Supernova? I sure didn't. I've read that we originate from cosmic particles that fell to Earth, which is pretty close. But when I read this, my imagination went wild.

Kids, we are star dust! If that doesn't make you feel special, nothing will. OK, striking it rich by winning the Powerball, or however it's called. But even so, it's not special in this sense of the word.

Anyway, I digress, as usual.

Once upon a time, there was a journalist named Rose George who took it upon herself to be a researcher and publish her book. That's the right way to do it, btw. :)

She authored an article that disclosed so much great info that I had to stop several times to let my head cool off before continuing.

As it is, we all have between 9 and 11 pints (6.25 l) of blood in our bodies. But we take it for granted, and we should rethink that demeanour.

Red cells carry oxygen, while the white ones fight those devious parasites that are always trying to kill us. Don't ask me why. That's how they are.

Our buddies, Platelets and Proteins in plasma, form clots to prevent those maniacs from causing haemorrhages. We don't want those—like ever!

They also help by providing the stem bone marrow that, in serious cases, must be restored or even transplanted to save dying people.

Our blood also regenerates thanks to that process.

But what is blood, really? Its main elements are water and salt, all nine pints of it—11 if you're a big guy, I guess.

It travels in your body daily for a total of 12,000 miles (ca. 19,312 km)—no hitch-hiking, either. That's the distance between your place and Novosibirsk, Russia. Our veins, arteries, and capillaries are 60,000 miles long, twice the circumference of Earth.

Are you floored yet? Wait until you hear the rest.

Blood is a substance that has its own set of mysteries, not because it's itself a mystery, but because of what it’s represented to people since the beginning of recorded history (A long time ago)

Even Medusa had issues with her own pints. It's --according to Greek mythology-- a freak.

They say that the left side of her brain contained blood so toxic that it would kill you, while the content of her right side created healing miracles, etc.

Now, losing blood has been a problem of a different kind in many cultures worldwide. And it's not what you think.

Unfair treatment

There's the story of this child, Radha, 16 y/old living in India, a "chau", as they're called, because they are the untouchables. Why? Because she was menstruating. Not only that, but she couldn't even set foot inside a temple, be in the family house with her loved ones, touch her friends or other women. She had to stay away from animals, and her people claimed that if she were to touch a buffalo, the beast would get sick and stop producing milk. I can't conceptualise anybody thinking and behaving that way.

When fed, she could only eat rice from a bowl thrown at her to avoid proximity.

However, just 300 miles away, near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, menstruating girls are praised and prized for their blood discharge, as it is a symbol of fertility and power.

She should move there, I say.

And in other places like Wogeo, a small island off the coast of New Guinea, it is both lethal and cleansing, and men seek to emulate menstruation by cutting their penis to allow it to bleed using crabs' claws.

Ouch! Ouch!...It hurts just writing that.

In Ancient Rome, it was even worse. It was bad enough because it didn't ward off evil spirits, but if a naked lady walked the fields, it was believed that alone would kill all the pests that threatened their crops. No wonder their empire collapsed. They weren't thinking straight.

By Maria Dolores Vazquez on Unsplash

Jews and Muslims won't consume a product prepared by a menstruating girl.

Such hypocrisy has no bounds. They would marry them at 12 y/old, but they'd be off-limits when preparing their food.

At least Jesus had decency when he called for what became the Eucharist. He proclaimed that bread and wine symbolised his body and blood, which dampened Roman beliefs during that era. I'm siding with him. Period. (oops)

At that time, the blood of saints was holy and cured diseases. For example, St. Thomas A. Beckett was known for producing miracles at will by sprinkling drops of his own blood on the faithful, as was Saint Peter Martyr in 1252.

We can't forget Stigmata, and the studies ongoing today to try to solve that incredible puzzle. But the scientists are certain it is not a trick. However, that is in and of itself so fascinating, that it deserves a post of its own.

Interestingly, the body has no other natural way to get rid of its blood. Except via menstruation.

The Medieval “Treatments”

Enter Alchemy and enter leeches. And here is a funny bit: They (the leeches) were the cornerstone of medical practice in medieval times, as inconceivable as that sounds. We have all seen movies where doctors came to help the king not die and used those things for bloodletting.

The problem they encountered, and that the movies didn't tell, is that not all leeches are born equal.

Some refuse to drink our blood, and who can blame them? They just weren't into us.

Instead, they went for the camels. Inside their noses! But they knew their limitations; they weren't stupid, these leeches. Whatever happens, we never kill our host, must have been the pact they made. So some of these literal bloodsuckers weren't convinced about sucking the blood of a sick and dying king. But some didn't mind; they’d suck anything. All the king's men were looking for those.

By Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Richard Sugg wrote an impressive book on this subject that comes highly recommended, titled “Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires. (2011)

Tell him you know me. You might get a discount.

Anyway...he traces the belief in blood healing back to ancient Rome. It was “in” to drink blood in the Colosseum, or any other gladiator's arena,

The victor would make a cut from the conquered's neck and drink from it, just like he would today at the school's cafeteria.

Yack!

By the time of Constantine, the converted Christian Emperor, that method was still going on. But he had plans to do away with the whole nonsense. Yet, he continues to authorise drinking from the fountain of the dead, meaning executed criminals.

Drink while it's hot, right?

The seriously ailing went first. If there ever were vampires, these guys were it.

These are facts. This is who we were and what we did.

Another case is from a famous character: King Louis XI. He would soak his meals in the blood of a young child to cure diseases, like leprosy, which he had. It didn't work.

Another case involved a Jewish Physician who had the bright idea to help Pope Innocent VIII drink the blood of a six-year-old child to...get ready. To transfer youth!

The crookery of the alchemists of that era had no bounds. These insane times finally ended in 1628, when nothing they were trying worked and superstition reigned supreme. But old habits die hard, and it wasn't until 1666 that finally genuine science took hold and transfusions started.

But not every transfusion went according to plan. Some doctor's bright idea of using a calf for such a transfer didn't turn out well when the man died. Why did he think it would work is beyond me. IMHO, he sacrificed his patient to see if a novel experiment would work. It didn't work, but it contributed to science by discovering different types of blood. But not by that doctor. The one with the honours was Dr. Karl Landsteiner. He and Dr. Vienna figured out the blood types and their traits: A; A-B (universal recipient), and O (universal donor).

A new Discovery

Paradiosis (Greek for Next to Life)

Now, this company, Ambrosia, seeing profits even under the bed, has come out with the old idea of living forever, or at least a bit longer.

The founder, Jesse Karmazin, is or was charging $8,000 for a shot at semi-immortality. The condition? The donor had to be under 25.

One thing is true: This bloody subject has kept us on our toes since we can remember. It has invaded our lives like few other features. After all, it's what we're made of, and like oxygen, without it, we can't live.

We are fascinated by blood, without a doubt. It occupies so much of our conscious and unconscious is incredible. Some people love blockbusters with the bloodiest scenes. The cheesier, the better, especially in Asia. If they spend 20 bucks to make it, it's over budget. Then, American audiences are enthralled by vampires and zombies. They've burnt Dracula to a crisp. What about video games for the youngest of the young? No blood, no gore? It's a flop. And you, the parent, will hear curse words you didn’t know existed.

Ancestry (dot) com is making a fortune, just like its competitor, 23 and me, because people want to know what's in their blood. I wish they'd asked me and I'd told them. Then, they would've saved a pretty penny. I would have charged much less.

All you need to know is that you're Stardust—cosmic and magical, just like the Supernova you came from.

By NASA Hubble Space Telescope on Unsplash

~o~

Thank you for reading!

If you liked my post and would like to treat me with a cuppa, I won't refuse. Please click »»»here. «««

Cheers!

ScienceHumanityHistorical
18

About the Creator

Rene Volpi

I'm from Italy and write every day. Being a storyteller by nature, I've entertained (and annoyed) people with my "expositions" since I was a child, showing everyone my primitive drawings, doodles, and poems. Still do! Leave me a comment :)

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (8)

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  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Flamance @ lit.about a month ago

    Great job congratulations

  • Dr Mehmet Yildizabout a month ago

    A wonderful story which deserved to be a top one! Congratulations.

  • D. D. Leeabout a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story! I found this both fascinating and disturbing. The insight into cultural/ scientific/ and medical history is interesting. But, knowing some of these practices and the fact that they could persist today is unnerving. Well written piece nonetheless. Thank you!

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Loved your "oops"... ha! Interesting stuff. Loved how you wove it all together into a fascinating tale. Congratulations on Top Story.

  • Amelia Mapstoneabout a month ago

    What a bloody brilliant exploration! 😉 Thank you for sharing this.

  • Gerard DiLeoabout a month ago

    Interesting stuff. By the way. we are the products of a second-generation star explosion. One that spews out heavier elements than heavier stuff than just hydrogen and helium. The average turnover of a red blood cell is 90 days. They die. The bone marrow refurnishes the stash. And Jesus gave the 1st transfusion when he said, "Take this and drink..." A great write, Rene. I loved the historical asides. One thing you didn't touch on was that menstruation is named after the moon, and it is probably no coincidence that we evolved, according to the lunar month, to menstruate likewise. Also, any group of women cohabitating will link up their cycles--not exactly, but trends can be noted.

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Welldone keep it up very well written

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