Thursday, December 16, 2004

Me, myself & bits

I made a blood donation at Red Cross today, and it makes me wonder about what will happen when someone else gets the stuff pumped into their veins (or arteries? Which is which?). There’s something of me going into their bodies: is it just a physical substance, or does something of my spirit go with it?

A friend of the family once suffered a terrible & mysterious infection. I don’t know the details, but after years of liver trouble she caught some sort of bug (not the medical term used). This infection quickly spread through her body, and her limbs had to be amputated, though this failed to prevent her death. My mother and I at the time wondered about this woman’s loss of limbs, and what it meant about identity. The “person” we knew always remained that part of the body lying in the hospital bed, despite the growing number of bits amputated from it.

The idea of holding a funeral for the limbs seems comical, wouldn’t you say? But if it is, then why? Are these bits of us just accessories to the “real” us, or what? Do they not in themselves constitute something of our identity? If it had been physically possible, just how much of this poor woman’s body could have been removed before she herself was gone?

I don’t feel that I’ve lost part of myself in that blood donation, though I do drift towards thinking there might be communication of energy or spirit or ... you know, something to the poor sod who needs to use the blood products. High levels of caffeine, perhaps.