Blood tales: the magic liquid that keeps us alive

Igo running around a lake and brambles scratch me. The wounds should heal quickly on my legs, but they don’t, because I scratch the scratches, and I scratch and scratch. I have always been this brutal with healing injuries, but usually my skin healed them fine. Now that I am menopausal, and my collagen is affected by my fluctuating hormones, the injuries stay as scars and reminders. I can plot every fell run, every fall, from the white lines. I know this, yet still I scratch. And I ask myself, why do I like to see the blood?

A man I talk to at a party begins to look green after he asks what I’m working on. I don’t like to see blood on screen, but I don’t understand haemophobes and fainters. I love my blood. How could I not? This is what it does for me: it carries oxygen to my organs and tissues; it gives me the strength to run up hills and carry shopping; it removes carbon dioxide and waste products so I won’t die; it carries the white blood cells that rush to repel invaders and infection, and usually defeats them; it travels around my body along a circulation of veins, arteries and capillaries that, stretched out, would measure 60,000 miles, twice round the earth and more. All those scars and scratches: each time, my blood rushes to the injury, performs what is called, beautifully, a clotting cascade, yet doesn’t clot anywhere else.

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