9-15-10 Wednesday      

Status: 9.0/10.  Another good day.  Just the pleasure of sleeping late, eating when I want, being free.  So much we take for granted.

Events:  Going to a reception for new parents at Rachel’s high school this evening.  Although it’s a crowd, it will be composed of adults.  Now that cold and flu season is back (kids in school) I’ll stay away from any large collection of little ones.

Comments:  First let me answer Margot’s comment from yesterday concerning the color of blood.  Despite the old wives tale that blood is blue (why is it that old wives always get this stuff wrong), the blood of vertebrates (animals with a backbone, like mammals, fish, birds, and reptiles) is red.  That’s because it contains hemoglobin, which uses iron to transport oxygen.  And just like rust (another combination of iron and oxygen) it’s red.

Now, highly oxygenated blood (arterial blood) is bright red.  Blood with low oxygen levels (that in your veins) is a deeper red, a burgundy or a maroon – a pinot noir if you will.  Certainly a dark red but definitely not blue.

Some animals (non-vertebrates) do indeed have blue blood, for example the octopus and some mollusks.  That’s because instead of hemoglobin with its iron, they evolved with hemocyanin with copper as the oxygen carrier.  And instead of hemoglobin packaged in individual red cells, the hemocyanin is simply dissolved in their plasma.  Hemoglobin is a much better carrier of oxygen at colder temperatures, which may be one reason you never find octupi in the Arctic.  And of course, I can’t leave this without mentioning Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, who apparently had green blood.

On to Lisa’s suggestions: I had noticed an interesting feature in my fingernails.  On all ten, I have two white, horizontal lines that go completely across the nail, and a width of about 1/6 of the nail length.  They are separated from each other by about ½ a nail length.  They are called Mee’s lines and represent something that caused a growth disturbance in the nail. 

 Those somethings were my two hospitalizations for chemotherapy.  Like rings on a tree, the two lines nail down the length of and the time between my two experiences.  Over time, I have watched the first one grow up the nail, like a wave onto shore, and then watched the second one arise and travel forwards as well.  My oncologist says that in some people who have received multiple chemotherapies he has seen up to 3 on a nail.  In the past, they were used as evidence of arsenic poisoning.

Tomorrow, some notes on their counterparts – the skin.




8 Responses to “”

  1. Blaine Says:

    Hi Bruce,
    Just want to compliment you on the fascinating (nod to Mr. Spock!) information you have provided. Gives me some insights into my bruising.

    L’shana tovah to all!

  2. Art Ulene Says:

    Bruce….. you are a born teacher…. and a beautiful writer. Today, I heard a urologist ask the question: “Does it look like tomato juice, red Kool-Aid, or wine.” “What are you getting at,” I asked him. “Tomato juice tells me it’s fresh blood. Kool aid tells me it’s not blood. And red wine tells me it’s old blood… in urine.” We compared a specimen together. “Looks like a fine Malbec”, I diagnosed. “Looks more like Merlot to me,” he responded. “Either way, it’s old blood, and nothing to worry about today.”

    Thanks for all you share with us…. including a high level of inspiration and gratitude for each little thing in life. We send our love….. ART

  3. Bill Israel and Eileen Breslin Says:


    Loved the nail talk; made me think of dendrology in trees. We can count age my tree rings. Two sets, for you, is plenty, thank you. Great to hear you feeling well and getting a chance just to be, let alone keeping us in your great science lessons.

    Bill and Eileen

  4. joel steinberg Says:

    Funny you should mention it, but Margaret got Mee’s lines on her fingernails toward the end of her chemotherapy. Her oncologist predicted this would likely happen months before it actually did, and that she could sometimes count the number of chemo sessions for that patient–just like counting tree rings. Another phenomenon that happened: She got boggy purple discolorations under her big toenails. Her oncologist says this is also common and can cause the nail to actually lift up and slough off. That hasn’t happened so far.The other skin appendages–hair, eyebrows and eyelashes fell out. But they are all starting to grow back. We are glad you are feeling good. Keep it up.

  5. wendy Says:

    and while your dr friends marvel at your medical knowlege and teachings… I applaud you for your human perspective and vulnerability that you’ve shared which is the common thread among us… when it’s all said and done..I hope to see the whole real report in a book called something like… that which binds us all.. the common thread…. feelings!!!

  6. Esperanza Says:

    Except my bruises never seem to turn yellow or green just take forever to just go away.

  7. Roxanne K. Young Says:


    What can I say but Live long and prosper.


  8. Victoria Cushey Says:

    Bruce, you’re home today, correct? Please confirm on your blog. Just heard about the shooting at John Hopkin’s…Warren is calling you now.

    Love you,

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