Continuing care can enhance a taste for blood

She was dressed all in black, black lipstick, black mascara, black mood; not another teenage vampire, I thought, finding a petulant adolescent immortality more attractive than actually, like, growing up.

'Look,' I said, 'I don't want to be a wet blanket, but it's not a wise lifestyle choice; human blood really doesn't taste very nice, and I have had some unfortunate experience in that field.'

'So you have drunk deeply of the golden cup,' she said, trying hard at a sepulchral tone.

'Not exactly,' I said. Blood must be the second most romantic body fluid, and there is nothing wrong with a bit of melodrama, I understand, but golden cups were far away on the day I carelessly incised one of Joe's gargantuan haemorrhoids.

I was chatting away at the time, trying to 'put the patient at ease', a core skill when they are painfully aware that cold steel is shortly to defile the most precious part of their body. But the body has its own instinctive defences, and a capricious spurt of blood shot straight into my open mouth and exploded on my soft palate, before dispersing itself around my buccal cavity.

If I'd been a paramedic or lab technician, this incident would have immediately resulted in sick leave, counselling, multiple antibody titres for AIDS and hep B and C, and probably a lawsuit and generous compensation. But we GPs are made of sterner stuff; we know that shit happens, and that when body fluids are splashing around freely they will inevitably choose the most awkward destination.

So I swallowed hard, refusing to gag on the noxious metallic after-taste, unwilling to display human weakness in front of (or behind, to be precise) a lay person.

This is where continuing care can actually be useful for once.

I knew Joe and his personal habits well and therefore knew also that his chances of having AIDS or hep B and C were vanishingly small; I am unaware of any reports of these diseases being contracted during solitary sexual activity, as at least one other person is usually required to be present. So Joe was as safe as if he had been living on the moon.

I'm pretty sure, in fact, that to this day, the only person Joe has shared body fluids with is me.

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