One possible involvement I had steered clear of was that of esophageal varices or enlarged veins in the throat. To me this was just too horrible to contemplate. I now consider that I erred in this omission from my booklet, for I now believe that to have shrunk from all mention of this complication was sheer cowardice. Could this have been simply another manifestation of my never-failing inclination towards euphemism? Since the time when one of my earliest correspondents had described to me her husband’s death as the result of a massive hemorrhage, I had added to my files several accounts that were similar. If I had written about them, I might have done much good.
In general the word “varices” refers to distended veins (from "varix," a word derived from the Latin word for “twisted”).
House, The TV Series
Followers of Dr. House, the irascible physician portrayed by Hugh Laurie in the popular TV series, have by now become inured to the ghastly sight of individuals with blood spewing from them, or having it gush from the throat of every second patient, but this is now… and then was then! That I had perhaps erred in trying to “break the news gently” first became painfully clear to me when an elegantly dressed woman came by the table at which my husband and I were sitting in Vancouver’s Oakridge Shopping Centre, where we were distributing leaflets on May 28, 1987, the third day of Canada’s first Hemochromatosis Awareness Week.
She stopped to talk for a while and surprised us by actually knowing about hemochromatosis. Moreover, having been made aware of the disorder by the death of her husband’s father, she had bought my booklet. She cheerfully informed us that no one else in the family was afflicted or even at risk. They were all fine, except her husband who was very ill. He had unfortunately just been hospitalized because of enlarged veins in the throat, due, it was suspected, to medication which had been administered to him some years previously. Neither she nor her husband had ever thought to mention to the doctor in charge of her husband’s case that there was a family history of hemochromatosis.
The next most horrifying detail she shared with us was that a relative had been “given” hemochromatosis by the Japanese in a prisoner-of-war camp, and kept spitting blood!