Dyeing to Die

I’m probably going to file this in the ‘if I knew then what I know now’ bucket with the understanding that what I know now won’t change much about what I should have known then.

Anybody have availability on a time machine?

My oncology/hematology consult yesterday gave me a clear sense of the elements in my life that may have contributed to this current situation I am traversing.

Most medical problems seem to exist in a statistical cloud of uncertainty where the cause of the problem could be on this hand, the other hand or the other-other hand. I’m not betting the farm with these folks any time soon.

But, in my case the hematologist opened the consultation with a deep-throated statement devoid of ambiguity: you were poisoned by the chemical benzene somewhere in your past and this has permanently damaged your DNA causing your white blood cells to over-produce even though you have no infection for the cells to fight. Oh, shit! On top of a cancer diagnosis? WTF?

I was relieved that it wasn’t an Agent Orange thing that I had feared most over the years. They were quite specific: benzene.

Most folks would have responded to this with a ‘what’s benzene’ skeptical face but I had been exposed to benzene and its many cyclic variants for decades and I couldn’t deny it.

But I pulled up straight in the chair and told my story of working my way through college spending many nights scooping waxy Tic-Tac-like pellets of bi-phenyl-phenol out of a 55 gallon cardboard drum with my bare hands and tossing them into a hot, steaming textile dye machine to insure that the yellow golf shirt material was the yellowist it could be. Damn, that double-knit fabric was almost glowing in the dark when we were done.

But now, it is me glowing in the dark, so to speak, and my historical encounters with benzene and its manifold cyclic derivatives leaves me wishing for a time machine.

If I knew then………………

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