Monday, June 7, 2010

I Can't Do Much

I am optimistic by nature.  I have been described, not unaffectionately, as "pathologically cheerful". 
Shortly after my godmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, I got a recruitment phone call from the Red Cross.  They'd like it very much if I'd agree to come in and give aphresis platelet donation a whirl.  I have the rarest blood type, but wouldn't you know it it also the universal donor for this particular product?  This particular product, by the way, has a primary's given to chemo patients to boost their immunity after treatment.  Yes, sir, I think I would like to sign up for that, thanks for calling.

There are so many reasons why I should not be doing this process.  First, it's a two arm process.  My left arm is a gusher with a nice juicy vain.  My right arm is a complete dud.  They have no problems getting the output vein set up and rolling through my left arm.  During the process, the blood goes into a centrifugal machine, gets separated, and the platelets stay and everything else comes back to me through a needle in my right arm.  I now have three holes in my right arm, each with its own bruise, because it took them that long to get the needle lodged into a viable spot.

It's funny, when my sons were born, and I was breastfeeding them, I had a Winner Boob and a Loser Boob, too.  Come to think of it, lefty was the winner.  It is possible that the entire right side of my body is just dead weight.

So the whole thing takes a couple of hours.  I get to watch a movie!   But not everybody is a good candidate for this type of donation. The anti-coagulants that they use in the centrifugal machine, some of those come back in with your blood and, well, some people get sick. Um. I get sick. Yeah, the first time I did it, I went for almost an hour and a half, and I got super sick. It wasn't dangerous or anything, but I was fainty and feverish and passed out....twice. But I wasn't even upset about getting sick.  I was just annoyed that I missed the last fifteen minutes of Milk!  I guess I technically know how it ends, but it's not like I'll ever rent the movie to watch the last fifteen minutes.  They were a bit worried about me, actually, because they got enough platelets to use, but the part that got stopped was the part where the rest of my blood would have come back to me.  Which means that I lost quite a bit of blood from the process.  Whoopsie daisy!

There were a few steps I could take to better prepare myself for the process (calcium, water, food choices, etc.) so I signed up to try again.  Which I did, on Sunday.  Worked like a charm!   This time I watched The Blindside, which was actually great.  I think I was expecting something more schmaltzy, which it wasn't. It was cute and kind of laugh-out-loud funny a few times.  (If you think it's weird that I'm so into the movies, then you must not totally understand what it's like to live with my very loud sons.  A heated lounger, wrapped in blankets, with headphones and nobody interupting me every 8 seconds?  I wish I could knit, honestly, but you can't move your arms.  If I could knit there, I'd never leave.)

Most of the aphresis donations taken in Oakland (where I go) goes to lukemia patients at Children's Hospital.   I can't do much.  But I can do this.  So I will.


  1. <3 that you did this

  2. OK Mia such a serious great cause and here I sit laughing. Winner Boob and Loser Boob is what did it. Glad your second try was more successful and you got to watch the whole movie. Bless you!

  3. Winner Boob and Loser Boob made me giggle. I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to giving blood and the like... thanks for being brave!

  4. @ Laurie ~ I can't wait to see you on Tuesday!

    @ Betty ~ *L* I used to actually call them that! "Well, let's if the Loser can handle it tonight" haha! No wonder righty wouldn't perform for me. :)

    @ Carmen ~ It's funny, because I never really have that reaction to blood (you totally want me around in an emergency!) so I was really surprised to get all fainty the first time. I don't know if it's just that I'm more "in tune" with the whole thing now that I'm a donor, but it seems like every time I turn around, somebody is telling me about a relative or friend who is getting a platelet transufsion!