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All Natural

As told to Faigy Schonfeld

Large, scary, black-and-blue marks don’t have to mean leukemia, I tell myself. I stand by the bathroom mirror and inspect my arms. Okay, it is a little frightening. I sigh and turn the faucet on; I’ve got to brush my teeth and get some sleep before Avi wakes for his midnight snack. I rinse my mouth. There’s blood in the sink. The mirror confirms; my gums are bleeding. More blood pools in the sink. I give up, a little disgusted, and head for bed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Night disappears too soon. I’m still rubbing my bleary eyes when, once again, the bathroom mirror tells me my gums are reddish. With blood.

My husband feeds Avi his mashed bananas and insists I call my mother. “Rikki, I’m scared.”

I sigh, lift the receiver, tell my mother my symptoms.

“You still have those little red spots on your hands?” she asks.

I glance down. “Yeah.”

“You’re not going to work now. You’re going to the doctor.”

I shrug and Avi beams at me. “You sure, Ma?” I stall, lazy. “It’s raining. Maybe I can go after work. I have so much to do and—”

“I honestly don’t care.” Mommy sounds rather shrill. “You’re going for a blood test. Right now. I’ll come by in half an hour to get Avi, ’kay?”

“I guess,” I mumble, yawning.

The next hour, I alternate between annoyance and anxiety. Blood test done, I hurry off to work and am sucked into a vortex of calls, people, problems, and all that fun stuff. I’m on the line with a nasty vendor from Saudi Arabia when my cell buzzes. I recognize the number from somewhere. I don’t know why, but I put the vendor on hold and pick up.

“Mrs.Friedman, this isDr.Ash. I’ve got your blood results from this morning’s test.” Pause. “I need you to see a hematologist. Immediately.”

Something jumps a little in my chest. “Er, okay, I guess I’ll make some calls later. Um, what’s the matter?”

“Mrs.Friedman. NOW.” He is suddenly hoarse. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Please, write down this number. He’s a hematologist, accepts your insurance. You need an emergency appointment.”

Finally, I am scared. 



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