How my husband with hemophilia is conquering his fear of eating fish

Severe hemophilia B led to anxiety over throat bleeds

Alliah Czarielle avatar

by Alliah Czarielle |

Share this article:

Share article via email
main graphic for the column

My husband, Jared, is an avid eater. He’s especially fond of meaty dishes like pizza, barbecue, and steaks. He’d never pass up the chance to try a new restaurant, unique meal, or a different country’s cuisine. (No wonder he also loves to experiment in the kitchen!)

There’s just one type of food he’ll hesitate to order: fish.

Recently, however, we visited one of my favorite childhood restaurants. I recommended that we try their fried John Dory fillets with mushroom cream sauce. It was an absolute hit with our daughter, who immediately requested that the meal be served in our household. Of course, Jared agreed to give it a try, being the sweet and kindhearted father that he is.

Since then, he has agreed to expand his repertoire to include other fish dishes, knowing that our daughter loves fish so much. Anyone familiar with how young children operate would understand the wisdom behind capitalizing on their favorite dish, as kids can be so picky!

Recommended Reading
Illustration of two people shaking hands.

AstraZeneca, Sernova join forces on cell therapy research

I’ve always loved fish myself, having spent my formative years in General Santos, the tuna capital of the Philippines. There was an abundance of freshly caught fish in our wet markets. My mom was a fisheries graduate, so she knew several techniques to cook and process fish.

When we moved to metropolitan Manila, however, much of that changed. We could no longer enjoy fish as much, as seafood could be pricey. Still, we did our best to include fish in our meal rotation whenever we had the chance.

I’m flexible when it comes to food. So when Jared, who isn’t very fond of eating fish, came into my life, it wasn’t too big of an adjustment. After all, I could eat other things, and Jared was an excellent cook. Nonetheless, I would occasionally remember my mom’s tamarind milkfish soup (sinigang na isda) and wonder if we could have that on our dinner table, too.

Understanding Jared’s fear

When I asked Jared why he wasn’t fond of eating fish, he told me he wasn’t against its taste; rather, he dreaded the prospect of accidentally swallowing a large bone and getting poked in the throat.

Since he has severe hemophilia B, he fears that one bad poke could result in a serious bleed. Throat bleeds are considered major, as they have the tendency to swell, which could then restrict one’s airway. Being a fast eater, he didn’t want to risk that.

Now that he’s surrounded by fish lovers, though, he’s decided to give fish another try. He recently picked up a cookbook dedicated to fish. He was quite pleased to learn that fish is a blank canvas for cooks — great for infusing flavor!

To help him overcome his fear, I’ve advised him to practice mindful eating. Instead of wolfing down an entire meal within seconds, he must go one bite at a time. He hasn’t been too keen on this tip, but since fish leaves him with no other choice, he’s now slowly learning to savor his meals.

According to an article published on the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s website, eating mindfully can be a good thing, as it engages all of a person’s physical and emotional senses, allowing them to fully experience and enjoy their meal. It may help to increase one’s gratitude for food, which can improve the overall eating experience.

Most Filipino fish dishes use the entire fish carcass, spines and all. So Jared was quite surprised to read that many Western cooks utilize fillets more often. Fillets are a safer way to enjoy fish when one isn’t in the mood to remove spines and just wants to eat a quick fish meal. They’re much easier to prepare!

With this new knowledge, Jared’s ready to tackle a once-feared food item. Here’s to conquering his fear of eating fish, once and for all!

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


Ivan avatar


This is such an interesting story. I have severe hemophilia B, and it never occurred to me to take precautions around fish. Being a Caribbean native who grew up on the sea, fishing and eating fish have been part of my life since I can remember. Growing up, my parents never let me participate in deep sea fishing tournaments because of their fear that I would be injured while several miles out to sea (they saw the hooks, gaffs, knives, and the fish themselves as potential hazards). However, when it came to EATING fish, they never batted an eye - even though, as you indicate, that poses a very serious danger - which is probably more likely and more likely to have serious consequences than an exterior cut. I have been eating fish of all shapes sizes and quantities of bones for close to 50 years. No incidents yet, but I have had bones stuck in my gums on occasion, and once had a bone stuck in my throat that I was able to eventually remove by myself. I even had severe fish poisoning that required hospitalisation. Still eat fish, and LOVE it!!! Good luck o your husband in exploring his new gastronomic horizons!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.