The trouble with my blood

Will Self in The Guardian:

Red-blood-cells-007It didn't help that we seemed to be at the centre of a cancer cluster: one friend was dying of leukaemia in Hammersmith hospital, another was in the process of being diagnosed, a third had had half his throat and jaw chopped out. I fully expected cancer myself. To paraphrase the late and greatly pathetic roué Willie Donaldson, you cannot live as I have and not end up with cancer. There was the genetic factor to begin with, and then there's been the toxic landscape of carcinogens – the yards of liquor, the sooty furlongs left behind by chased heroin, the miles driven and limped for over a decade to score crack which then scoured its way into my lungs. The prosaically giant haystacks of Virginia tobacco hardly bear mentioning – being, in contrast, merely bucolic.

No, I was on the lookout for the crab – not a pair of lobster's claws. It was my wife who eventually sent me across the road to the GP, a shrewdly downbeat practitioner who in the past had declined to check my cholesterol levels or send me for a prostate-cancer biopsy, but now took one look at the human-into-crustacean transmogrification and sent me straight down to St Thomas's for a blood test. The results came within a couple of days, and when I saw him in person he confirmed what he'd told me over the phone: “Your haemoglobin is right up, and your white blood cell count is also elevated. I can't be certain but I think there's a strong possibility it's …”

I pre-empted him: “Polycythaemia vera?”

“Aha,” he said. “Been googling, have you?”

I conceded that I had.

“Well,'” he continued, “the Wiki entries are pretty thoroughly vetted – if you stick to that you're on safe ground.”

More here.