The day I went to work and met a real vampire

It all started out seeming like a pretty routine visit. My patient was in her early 30s and had come into the emergency department for weakness and was in no distress.

As I was talking with her about her symptoms she would flash the occasional smile. It was then I noticed that she had fangs. Not the kind that some people naturally have from misaligned teeth, but she had really long, sharp canine teeth.

She had some tattoos and a variety of piercings, so I just figured that the fangs were also a part of her look, perhaps a new trend that I’d never seen before.

She was coherent, articulate, had good hygiene and had no psychiatric history. Aside from the fangs, she seemed like a fairly average 30-year-old.

“Your blood work shows that you are anemic. Have you been having heavy menstrual periods?” I asked, as I reviewed her lab results. “Also your white blood cell count is elevated. Have you been sick lately?”

“I have always had abnormal blood counts my entire life, but not due to heavy periods or illness,” she said.

“What have your doctors told you it was due to in the past?” I asked.

“My doctors have never been able to tell me why,” she said and then hesitated. Flashing her fanged grin, she went on to say, “I am into some unique things.”

She was a little reluctant to open up but with a little encouragement she did. “I am a vampire. I drink human blood,” she told me.

I immediately had to put on my poker face as I was about to lose my professional, straight face.

It was one of the craziest things I had heard in a long time. I knew the movie Twilight was popular, but couldn’t believe that there were people who took their love of vampires to this level.

Immediately rushing through my head were thoughts of all the potential infectious diseases that she could possible have, like hepatitis or HIV.

“There are times when I crave a flesh meal. I am craving one now,” she continued to say.

My spine tingled as she said those words and for a split second I wondered if I was safe alone in the room with her. But she was so non-threatening and calm that I decided to continue.

I was intrigued and had to learn more about this. “So you drink other people’s blood? How do you get the blood? You could get hepatitis or HIV or other infections doing that,” I said.

She went on to tell me that she had one donor who gave her his blood. And that she had gone with him to the doctor to get tested for hepatitis and HIV and other blood-borne illnesses. He shared his results with her, and that is how she knew he didn’t have any infections.

“Wait, so there are people who want to donate blood to vampires? How did you find your donor?” I asked fascinated by what she was telling me.

“There are websites for real vampires to find donors. There is an entire community of vampires and donors out there, throughout the country and around the world,” she explained.

“Really!” I was very intrigued by all that she was saying. It was one of those moments where you hear about something completely new, and you just have to know more. “What about your fangs? How did you get those?” I asked.

“I had them filed that way. Many of us vampires have them done like this. Or you can get caps that go over the teeth,” she said pulling her lip up so that I could appreciate the full view of her fangs. She too was enjoying this conversation and my intrigue.

After we talked a little longer, and I had learned all about her vampirism, I told her that I was highly concerned about her habit of drinking blood. We talked about the various infectious diseases to which she may have been exposed. Next, we came up with a treatment and follow-up plan, and I told her it was imperative that she get tested for a variety of blood-borne diseases.

In researching for this blog post, I have learned more about real vampires, as they like to be called.

Contrary to the vampires of novels and Hollywood films, real vampires do not attack random people and bite into their necks, nor become bats at night or live for eternity.

They are real vampires in that they do believe they need blood or psychic energy from others in order to feel healthy and to overcome a perceived deficiency in energy.

Those who feed on aura or pranic energy are known as psychic vampires. And those who feed on blood (human blood is preferred) are called sanguinarian vampires.

They have willing donors who allow them to drink their blood. They follow certain rules about where to cut their donor and how much blood they can safely take from them.

Many of the donor/vampire relationships are well established and long-term. The donor is often treated well by the vampire so that the vampire does not lose the relationship.

There are also lifestyle vampires who like to dress like vampires but do not require blood or energy from others and are not considered real vampires.

In contrast real vampires, like my patient, believe they are born with this vampiric condition and that it is not something that they chose to have. Many believe their life would be easier without this condition.

It is hard to know how many real vampires there are throughout the U.S. or the world because many real vampires do not openly reveal their vampirism.

In many ways, they can seem pretty average, as my patient did, and may not stand out as vampires at all. They hold all sorts of jobs and may be single or married, and some are parents as well.

Vampires do indeed walk amongst us, and they may one day walk into your ER or office or grocery store. At least now you won’t be spooked when you meet one.

Archana Reddy is an emergency physician who blogs at Emergency Care for You. She can be reached on Twitter @AReddyMD.

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