Monthly Archives: June 2013

Wow… Uncommon Experience


I am going to separate this post into two topics, a (hopefully) small blurb about my nails and the main portion about my experience today donating platelets.  Both are sort of “uncommon” for me.  So on with my small blurb:

Photo on 2013-06-29 at 21.39

I just willingly cut my nails after vowing to keep them growing until I find a job that necessitated the cutting of them.  So, today I had my apheresis appointment and wanted to write about it and realized that if I wanted to get it done any time soon, I had better cut them down.  I cut off slightly more than 1/4″, as seen in the upper right hand corner of the pic above, and they still stop at a little above the tops of my fingers.  I read a tip about it being easier to file your nails with dark nail polish on them so I gave it a try and it was so EASY.  I need to do more filing but it worked out great.

APHERESIS APPOINTMENT:

So, this appointment was uncommon for me because it was an awful experience.  I don’t want to deter anyone from donating platelets, but I feel that I need to report the bad experiences along with the good ones.  It’s quite a commitment to make and so, for me, that commitment overrides everything else–unless I feel that my care is being neglected during the process.  THAT needs to be addressed and possibly reported for your own good and health.

So let me explain a little bit more about the process and what is happening.  The goal is to draw the whole blood out of your body, it goes through a machine that separates the components being extracted, then the whole blood is returned into your body via, in my case, the same vein.  Today the process was supposed to take 112 minutes but in reality turned into 125 minutes, so a little over Two Hours.  Highly unusual for me and I’ll explain what happened.  As I said, the blood gets returned to my body, through the same vein.  They do have equipment out there that uses two veins, one from each arm.  I’ve been told that the best method for my body is the one vein method.

Anyhoo… Today, I had some pain right from the get go.  The needle felt uncomfortable, and the process was uncomfortable to painful.  I was very concerned, but everything seemed okay.  The machine monitors the pressure of the vein on the “draws” and the “returns” and an alarm will go off if the pressure gets too high OR too low.  Nothing was happening so I hesitated.  When asked, however, how I was doing and how I was feeling, I let them know that I was feeling pain, especially on the return and that had never happened before.  The phlebotomist (I think those are the techs doing this work) came and looked at my setup and the machine and said that everything looked fine, but that she was going to monitor me.  She asked if it was a burning or pinching sensation and I said, “no,” that it was more of a pressure PAIN.  She said that usually any discomfort settles down after a bit and that I should let her know if it didn’t go away.

So a little bit later on, my alarm went off during the return.  My techie came over and adjusted the machine to lessen the pressure.  Well, to make this story a little shorter, she made more adjustments for the “returns” and also for the “draws.”  Now, what this means is that she reset the speed at which my blood was being drawn out of me and the speed at which the blood was being returned into me.  The higher the speed the greater the pressure on your vein.  I hope I made that clear enough.  So when they lower the speed, it will take longer for the whole process and that is how my time got up to two hours.  Think about what would happen to your vein if this pressure was not alleviated.  I didn’t ask, but I’m thinking it could explode?  I don’t know for sure, but what I am sure about is that it would not be a good thing to happen.  I had visions, though, of an exploded vein and that I would have to be rushed to the hospital and not even sure if I would make it there in time for them to save my life…. Yeah, you lay there for two hours and maintain the happy thoughts…  Anyway, I did feel a bit of relief, but the pain lasted all through my time there.  I did feel that I was in good hands, however, and didn’t call it quits.  I managed a triple donation for my two hours and I’m happy about that.  My techie was there with me the whole time, monitoring my vein and touching it to feel it for herself.  I don’t blame her at all… and that is sort of a first for me.  These things happen sometimes and what is crucial, though, is how it’s handled.  One time at another place, a hospital, a phlebotomist screwed up BOTH my arms and I could not donate at all that day and went home with massive black and blues on both my arms.

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At the end of it, I got a bandage that matched my blouse… woo hoo.  But seriously, if you have a bad feeling about how your donation is going don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know.  My techie told me that what probably happened was that the needle was resting on the side of my vein, causing discomfort.  During the process, she adjusted it and, indeed, a lot of the pain dissipated and the alarm stopped going off for the rest of the session.  My only complaint is that adjustment should have been done sooner.  My arm is still out of sorts a good 10 hours or so later.  Aaaah, now I know why.  I have a good black and blue at the sight that is sore.  My badge of honor for a couple of days, I guess; AND I got my cookies and juice.

Oh.  A little something I should say and seriously only found out about a month ago.  When you donate through the Blood Center of New Jersey, you earn credits with every donation and the amount goes according to the number of units donated, like single, double, triple units.  Forget the amount, but I think it’s 100 credits per unit… something like that.  Well, ya want to know how many credits I had accrued before I found out?  15,000 credits.  Yeah, baby~!  For you New Jersey people, if interested in donating anything, this is the link for the Blood Center of New Jersey.  This year is their 66th year in service to the community.

I just want to end this saying that Platelet donation is not for everyone.  It takes real commitment to return to these centers or a hospital time and time again, every two weeks or so to lay there for a minimum of roughly 60 to my new personal high of 2 hours.  The people there always thank profusely for staying as long as I do in the chair.  I am grateful that they are thanking me, but I don’t see it the same way.  I am grateful for being able to do this for several reasons.  I look at it as a way I can do something really important in a world that seems to be pushing me aside in so many ways…. but that is another long story in and of itself.  Right now, I have the time.  I meet the criteria of high iron, high platelet count and pass other little tests and each time the results are different and they can rejectyou if your donation if you don’t meet these standards.  Each time is a little victory for me.  I love being there.  Yeah, I’m a bit off kilter.  I tell everyone that I donate platelets because maybe they might need some or someone they know might find themselves in a dire situation where they need them fast.  I can donate my platelets to anyone… well, I just need to still find out what the process is for that, but the employees are always so helpful that I push it aside knowing I can get the information at any time.

As always, and I don’t always say it, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.  Gotta say that I write about various topics.  Some are personal rants and some, like this, are informational.  Out of everything, this blog has basically been kept alive by your response to my Apheresis posts.  I was getting tons of comments on these posts, even old ones and for that I thank you.

Smooth Move


Okay… Here’s something I might regret posting about, but for me it’s a new discovery I’m sure to exploit.  I have the reputation in the family of being the “weird” one.  This post will either prove that right, or prove me a genius.

So last week, I was confined to the house by a series of torrential storms and found myself going crazy, HUNGRY for something to snack on and there was nothing, nada in the house.  As I rummaged through all the places I store food I came upon a can of crushed pineapple.  Aaah, I thought to myself.  Suddenly I had remembered a Weight Watcher’s snack/dessert my mom used to make.  It was a pack of single serving chocolate powdered Alba skim milk and the serving measurement of crushed pineapple, mixed up and put into the freezer for a delightful dessert for only one serving of fruit and one of milk.

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I am not on that diet and did not remember serving sizes and nor did I care to.  All I had was a can of fruit and an envelop of regular powdered milk.  I pulled out a mixing bowl and dumped the envelop of milk in there, then added the whole can of pineapple and 2 TSPS. of baking cocoa.  Stirred it up and found it too liquid-y.  What to do, what to do?  The light bulb goes on and I added, get ready for the kicker, 2 TBS. sugar-free orange Metamucil.  You read that right.  I was looking for something to absorb all that juice and was not disappointed.  Spread the mixture on top of a piece of aluminum foil, wrapped it up and put in the freezer.  I love orange/chocolate flavor… and this was SO good that it was all I could do to stop myself from eating the whole thing before it hit the freezer.  Well, let me just say there was an unexpected benefit from eating this snack.  Do I really have to say?  TMI?  Let’s just say I was one happy camper the next morning!

Over the weekend, Father’s Day weekend, I told my family about my recipe and I got gawks, comments and laughs.  My family’s like that; but I’m damn proud of myself!  So happy to invent a great tasting, low calorie snack that won’t penalize you for indulging.  So what’s your reaction to this slightly different recipe?

FYI about the recipes below.  I’ve not personally made any of these, though will try them at some point.

Follow up to Yesterday’s Post


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I got so caught up in my own experience with being bullied (This is a Bully Free Zone).  Usually I just have a burst of writing, then publish right away without editing and refining my thoughts.  But where this would normally lead to is my hopes for my child, new to the public school system in an urban area.  Sometimes I see my son as a fragile flower… yeah, that’s me; but it’s definitely a product of also knowing that school aged kids can be with most ferocious of tormentors and I worry about that.

We had an incident this year with bullying, where the adults of the school did not properly, nor thoroughly, assess this incident to appreciate the full story.  What they saw were two kids who accosted my child, one holding his hands behind his back and one punching him in the stomach.  What would that tell you?  These were kids from my son’s second grade class.  They also saw my son laughing, so they presumed that they all were playing.  THAT turned my stomach.  Autistic kids cannot read or present appropriate facial expressions or body cues.  The teacher in the lunchroom did not have the training to recognize this and so she thought that they all were playing.  After I got done flipping my wig, I got ahold of the principal and blasted his ear on the need for training for ALL personnel who come into contact with my kid.  I explained to him what happened and that I had extensively questioned my son and concluded that this was not playing.  As an outcast during my school years, I realized that he, who also does not have many friends, must have been happy to have attention from his peers, in ANY form, hence his laughter.  Also, he did not realize what had actually happened.  My son said that they thought he was a “robber.”  It took several separate questioning sessions to get out of him that he was not playing with them in the first place and that their actions HURT him.  I think he still was totally clueless as to what had transpired.  Thank GOD that the school acted accordingly in that they have zero tolerance for those actions whether it was play or not play.  These boys are now separated in the classroom.

Getting back to educating our teachers.  Yeah, does that sound like an oxi-moron?  It does to me.  These school districts do not want to pay for the continuing education and training for the teachers in their schools. Our principal is suggesting or urging our teachers to get training in autism.  It may not seem like it, but it’s a pretty BIG damn step!  At the very least, he is acknowledging the need, but sadly not ready to have the district pay for it.  Hopefully, they will have more of these workshops included when teachers have to go for their “inservices”.  It’s a day when the district’s kids have the day off, but teachers must go to these, I want to say, conventions and take workshops.

Plain and simple.  I do not want my kid bullied.  My rant of yesterday stems from that; but as a mother of one, I feel for all children, not just my own.  Forget about No Child Left Behind.  NO CHILD SHOULD EXPERIENCE THE PAIN OF BEING BULLIED, period.  My heart is bursting.

This is a Bully-Free Zone


Two recent things are prompting me to write this post on a subject that I’m pretty sure I’ve written about before (though I can’t find my post) and that is “bullying”, more specifically, my own. First, as I sat down to check out what was going on with my facebook friends, a familiar name jumped out at me. It was in my high school’s group page and it was the son of an old teacher of mine. It was pretty simple. He wanted her old students know that she was alive and kicking and that she was on facebook; and he invited us, her students, to come to her page and say “hi”. That one post might just have the most comments of the group and it’s only been a few days. Secondly, yesterday a read a post from Single Dad Laughing, “Memoirs of a Bullied Kid” and so many things he talked about happened to me. My story is a bit different, but all the main ingredients were there for me to resurrect my own writing. Oh yes, we try to close our eyes and get on with our lives, but it always comes back every so often to remind us from where we have come and it’s not pretty.

It “officially” started in first grade, but had its beginnings in kindergarten only because there were some kids who shared those grades with me. The torment lasted through to my eighth grade graduation. I went to the Catholic school of my own parish, so you’d think that would be a pretty safe environment. Oh how wrong you’d be. I was always a shy child and hardly ever spoke. I had a terrible stutter and it was literally painful to try to open it up to speak, let alone getting any words out, so I never spoke. Also, I could never speak up quickly enough with what I wanted to say and before I knew it, the conversation was way past, the topic forgotten and my thoughts left unsaid.

One day in June, it was my birthday. My mother bought me a wrist corsage to wear to school. I was bursting with happiness and couldn’t wait to get to school. I remember sitting at my desk and one of the girls wanted to know where the cupcakes were… and the kids around me were not happy about the missing birthday cupcakes. From then on, it was down hill. The verbal abuse was surrounding my weight. I’m sure my mom or grandmother would’ve made them but I’m not sure if they even knew that was the custom. From that day, I became the butt of every joke and prank and this was unending for eight years of the most delicate and impressionable years of my life. I got beat up, verbally taunted, pushed, laughed at, scribbled upon with pens. I got called all the fat names in the book, and it didn’t help that my name could be transformed into the decidedly non-compliment, “D-Bra.”  Yet, when I look back at photos from that time, I realize that I was NOT a fat kid. All those years I believed what I heard and thought I was fat and so, I did become fat, resigned to that imagined fact of fat.

I experienced almost everything Dan of Single Dad Laughing did. I had the vengeful, hateful fantasies about bad things happening to those kids and I had suicidal thoughts. I withdrew into my own little world of reading, drawing and music, in particular Barry Manilow. His music, and I’ve said it before, literally saved my life. I felt his songs reach my heart. Also, do not make fun of a good Catholic upbringing that says that if you kill yourself, you are condemned to hell. This was probably the only reason I didn’t actually kill myself. I laugh at the irony now because I’m not even sure that hell exists. It was a creation of man in medieval times with the intention of controlling the general and ignorant, uneducated public. My brain cannot even do a quote here, but believe me.

One time I went to the bathroom at school, forget what grade, and came back to a tack on my chair. I saw it and my decision to sit on it so that they would know it did didn’t hurt, was the worst thing I could have ever done. The outburst of laughter was so loud, yet the teacher said nothing let alone investigate what caused such a disturbance. That tack hurt me something terrible and I did manage to sit, and remain sitting fort he rest of the class, like it wasn’t there, which probably fueled the idea that I had so much fat that insulated me from feeling it…. ugh.

Okay I could go on and on with details and really don’t want to, but this particular one was a catalyst of sorts to put some of the hate and aside and let go of decades of hurtful baggage I carried. In my late thirties I met some of my classmates at a reunion I dragged myself to, and they acted like those childhood events never happened or maybe they were too ashamed? Nah. So, I thought to myself that I was walking around with all this hate, resentment and with the “victim attitude,” and the people who caused my misery were walking around, living their lives as happy as you please, with no acknowledgement, not a single thought of how they killed my life. What troubled me the most was that these people seemed like nice, good people… with a notable exception of one guy who is still has the meanest streak, though he says that he is a “good” guy now… um.. nope. I see how he treats other people and know the kind of guy he still is.

I think back to the priests, nuns and lay teachers who must have known what was going on… they KNEW, and did nothing. Oh, I know that they knew because at one point, my parents went to the school to complain and nothing was done. I was one of those kids who LOVED school and the learning, yet dreaded every single day of it. I had nobody. CATHOLIC school. I wonder if these religion=pushing people ever think of the disservice, the blatant contradiction of their faith. I was betrayed by the very people outside of my own family who were the most trusted. My family trusted them… but let’s not get into what my own family did or didn’t do to help me with this situation. At one point, they tried to teach me how to fight, but I was a very passive kid who shrunk in the face of a confrontation.  I remember a scene from the 1985 movie, “Back to the Future” when in 1955 the painfully shy, picked on George, with his arm trembling, makes a fist and delivers a whollop of a punch to Bif who was in the process of sexually molesting his future wife Lorraine.  I identify with that scene so much, but it was only a fantasy.  I Imagined myself hitting my bullies with all my anger, rage and frustrations packed into that single, well planted punch.

At least I know, eventually the school administration found out what was going on, if they didn’t know already, because I got in trouble for fighting and got detention. This was a predominantly Irish parish and we Italians were the outcasts, or so my mother described enough as such to justify herself not getting involved with the church or school. Oh, I also remember, and now have as a facebook friend, a girl from school who tried to teach me how to fight. I remembered her kindness through the years.  She didn’t seek to make friends with me then, but had enough compassion and sought to help me in the way she knew best.

But this brings me to the facebook revelation that one of my teachers, 91 or 92 now, is on facebook.  That brought back memories of a kind and compassionate teacher who, at that time, was a mother and maybe a grandmother, or soon to be one.   Mrs. Ann Strazza, my 5th grade math teacher.  I remember her telling me of her story of when she met her husband.  She did ask what was bothering me, but I told her of my fear of never having a boyfriend… HA… I could not tell her the truth, but it was part of the truth anyway.  I remember her advising my parents to give me chores at home, structure.  So, aside from making my bed, I now had to do household chores of washing/drying/putting away dishes, dusting, vacuuming, washing the bathroom… Whew, at least I shared these with my sister who, in the grade behind me, got caught up on the chore bandwagon.

All these memories coming back like a flood just serve to remind me of how hard I have buried them behind the back of my mind.  I don’t think of these things now, but I’m positive the effects haunt me in some way from time to time in just how I live my life.  Thankfully, during the summer of my graduation from that school and before high school I realized that I was going into a new school where nobody would know me.  I could be anyone and nobody there would know me from before.  That thought gave me the courage to look forward to a new era of my life.  That courage was so strong that I actually crossed a picket line to get into the school on the first day.  My mother begged me not to go, as other parents in our neighborhood stopped their kids from going; but I was resolute… I. WAS. GOING.  and I did.  Slightly discouraging, though, things did not change much for me socially.  I was still painfully shy and felt it hard to talk to anyone.  I was still the same plain jane, wore no makeup or fancy clothes.  HA.  The one time I wore a dress, my Spanish teacher awkwardly tried to render me a compliment and told me that I had “nice ankles”… WTF ?  Yeah.  I was still overweight and maybe she was trying to compliment me but could not other than noticing I had slim ankles.  Maybe she was surprised by that.  The major thing, though, was that I was not afraid to go to school.  I looked forward to it every day and when I was “periodic”… (love that word and swiped it from lovable Wendy Williams) I did not stay home like my sister and so many other girls.  It was horrible, but for me, I valued learning more than the pain and discomfort of the monthly.

Gotta give a shout out to Wendy Williams…. I love your show! I never thought I’d watch you for more than the first time because I consider myself serious and a lover of the cerebral (well, which means that I’m not drawn to girly talk) but you have grown on me something fierce. I love your personality. I love how you just speak your mind and never in a nasty way. You are really the only tv personality today who is vivacious and projects a love for life and fun that refreshes me whenever I watch the show.

The end.

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