7.18.2006
A bloody disappointment
Today I tried to donate blood. I arrived right on time for my appointment and chatted with the nurse sitting at the desk. I was pleasantly surprised that she recognized me, since I only go in 3 times a year.

Sidenote: I do a "double red" donation where they take out a pint of whole blood, separate the red blood cells from everything else, put all the "everything else" back in, then repeat the process. They end up with about a pint of red blood cells alone, I believe.

Anyway, I chatted a bit, then filled out the questionnaire (yes, no no no no no no no no no...no, yes, no no no no no) and sat down to get all my stats taken. First, my pulse: 64. Not bad, but that's about usual for me. Then, blood pressure: 100/78. Hm, better than usual. The nurse pricked my finger and tried to get a few drops of blood to test my iron levels aaaaaand........nothing. She squeezed harder and then said in a pretty accusing tone, "are you really cold today??"

Well, yeah, I'm always cold. I told her so and she commented on the poor circulation in my fingertips and had me hold my hand down for a few seconds before she could get anything from it. The blood was sent off to the centrifuge and we continued with the other tests. Temperature: woah!!! I know it's usually low, but that's the lowest I've ever seen: 96.6. Nurse asked if I was feeling ok or if I was feeling a little....hypothermic. Heh.

Then my HCT for my iron level came back: 46. Now, you have to understand, the last time I gave blood I ate red meat for a week and examined labels on snackfood trying to get as much iron as I could beforehand, and I only made it up to 40, which is their bare minimum for letting you give double reds. This week I didn't do anything special. Nurse said the highest she's ever seen a woman have was 42 or 43ish, and WOW was my count up there. She then asked what in hell I was doing to get it that high. "Umm...well, I've been taking a Flintstone's multivitamin....and.....I jog." She stared for a minute, then told me I should maybe mention to my doctor that it was pretty high and ask if I should do something about it. So that was nice, now I have a medical concern. Still, Nurse and her coworkers were excited that I had such healthy blood and that someone was getting "a lot of good iron" with my donation.

Since I had passed everything with flying colors, I got to sit in the loungy chairs, and Nurse ran to get me a blanket and even asked if I wanted to take my shoes off, which was a first. It was almost like preparing for a nice nap. The needle went in with a tiny wince from me, and my blood went through a tube and into the four test tubes they take in the beginning to test for various diseases, infections, etc. Then it was routed into the machine that separates the red blood cells in a centrifuge. About two peaceful minutes went by, before suddenly BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP and the machine stopped. An error message popped up on the screen saying that there was a leak in the centrifuge and it was aborting. Do not pass go. Do not continue to donate.

Yay. Nurse gets me all unhooked, orders me over to the snack area, and assures me that she's sure I'll be able to do at least a regular whole-blood donation later in the week, maybe next week, but she has to check with their procedures and then call the main office. I'm eating some of those fluorescent orange crackers with peanut butter in the middle when she comes over and tells me with a sad, sad face that because the machine malfunctioned after the blood had reached the separation stage, I couldn't give for another 8 weeks. Great. So I'm left with a hole in my arm and nothing good to show for it. Better luck next time, I guess.



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