Damnit! I love the show CSI with a passion, but tonight they let me down.
Basic, entertainingly gory premise–doctor with porphyria trains her Great Dane to attack joggers, harvests their organs and makes protein shakes out’ve ’em. Deprived of this sustenance, she’s guaranteed to die horribly in prison. Great premise. Just one problem.
Contrary to all those great theories about porphyria causing vampirism legends, drinking blood doesn’t do you jack all good–I mean, you get plenty of iron, sure, but you might as well just eat your Wheaties like the rest of us. Porphyria (there’s a couple of variants, but some of the really rare ones include photosensitivity and severe skin lesions) results from a genetic failure to make an enzyme that produces heme, which is needed for hemoglobin. To fix this, you can get transfusions, and blood products and all kinda good stuff to keep heme in your blood–there’s a slew of treatments in this day and age, it’s generally not fatal. Drinking other people’s blood won’t do you any good at all, because digestion breaks down any possible useful stuff to be had in the blood–you don’t get heme by drinking blood, you get some basic proteins, and probably any diseases your victim might’ve been carrying. You could guzzle the blood of the peasants by the bucket (and some of them probably did) and while it might feed your fetishes and your sadism, it won’t do a damn thing for the disease. On the other hand, in the Middle Ages, it probably wasn’t any more dangerous than drinking the water.
Many of us have doubtless heard the vampires-had-porphyria theory. It was a great theory. However, it probably ain’t so. A lot of the key elements to the theory, like vampires only going out at night, and the pallor and so forth are owed entirely to Bram Stoker and crew–prior to him, vampires could go abroad in daylight without a problem, weren’t disfigured to any great extent, and were believed to be red-faced from drinking stolen blood. Porphyria fits Count Dracula just fine, but not Vlad Dracul, nor any other legends. Some much better researched theories in a similiar disease vein were put forward in a book called “Food for the Dead” which explored deaths by “consumption” (generally believed to be tuberculosis, which was epidemic for many centuries) and some rather peculiar folk beliefs, such as that if someone died of consumption, they would come back from the grave and drain the blood of their relatives. Since tuberculosis is contaigous, other members of your family were indeed likely to get it, which fed the theory. (In case you’re ever in this situation, the folk solution is to dig up your dead relative and cut them open–if there’s blood in the heart or any other organs, or if they’re pink cheeked and rosy, they’ve been feeding on you, and the only way to survive is to burn the offending organ. Or you could try seeing a doctor.)
Damn CSI. They’ve failed me. *sob*
Oh, and my cat is currently fine–I won’t bore you with the details of his urine sample, since I can’t imagine anyone finds that thrilling (I mean, I’d like to think that I could make a urinalysis fascinating reading, but c’mon, I know my limits. I’d have to cast the whole thing as an epic poem between the Crystals and the White Blood Cell Count, and nobody wants that.) but it seems to be nothing that can’t be fixed with a specific diet and some antibiotics. Thanks to everyone who’s expressed concern–I appreciate it!