February 23, 2015

Bears, Beer and Hemophilia

What do they have in common? Hemophilia is rare, occurring in an estimated 1 in 5,000 male births. As rare as it is, hemophilia manifests in some unusual places, like literature! Here’s a book review from our colleague Richard Atwood, of North Carolina, called Fantastical: Tales of Bears, Beer and Hemophilia.
Marija Bulatovic, an only child, was born in the 1970s in Kraljevo, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). She and her parents immigrated to the United States before their country disintegrated and erupted into warfare
that spread throughout the Balkans. In America, Marija became an experienced
business professional with Fortune 500 companies. Living in Seattle with her
husband, Marija was inspired by the birth of her son. She became introspective
and recorded the childhood stories from her homeland.
When eight years old, Marija enjoyed eating virsle, or
Serbian hotdogs. Her mother disapproved and said, “Never eat hotdogs again.” She explained her concern by stating, “Hotdogs cause hemophilia.” Marija did not know the
condition of hemophilia. Her mother added that “hemophilia was a very serious blood disease and that
hotdogs, made with subpar meat and chemicals, could lead to it.” (p. 78). Marija, questioning
her mother’s statement but still not doubting her mother’s

Marija Bulatovic 

wisdom, carried this belief that hotdogs cause hemophilia for 30 years. This
resulted in an embarrassing moment with her boyfriend while on vacation in
Puerto Rico when she realized the fallacy of those beliefs.

Richard writes that his self-published memoir of interesting stories
includes 19 photographs, one map, and an Appendix of Serbian Proverbs. The
reference to hemophilia is mildly comical. The story reveals more about a
mother’s concern over healthy eating and a daughter’s blind faith that her mother’s
wisdom would never mislead her than about any insight into the medical
condition. Of course, hotdogs may be unhealthy, but they do not cause bleeding disorders.
Nor, might I add, he bag of Oreos I consumed while pregnant!
Marija Bulatovic, 2015, Fantastical: Tales of Bears, Beer and Hemophilia. SOL, LLC. 101 pages.
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