Category Archives: Platelet Donation

Preparing Well For Platelet Donation

So, yesterday I donated platelets at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, formerly known as Rahway Hospital in Rahway, NJ.  Personally, I will never accept it as RWJ.  I really don’t like it when they rename streets, buildings, schools, and yes, hospitals.  So much of the history is lost when they do that and it upsets my stomach.  I had stopped going to the hospital in Rahway because I didn’t like the treatment I got there past few times, and yes, maybe I was moody those days; but compounded by the dreary atmosphere, antiquated equipment and the overall dirty, dim look and feel of the room, I had decided to change my donation place to another location.  Humph.  A lot of good that name-changing thing did for the Blood Donor Room.

Anyway, Marty at the Blood Center of New Jersey called last week and asked if I could do it and though I hesitated, I agreed to donate there yesterday.  I hadn’t donated since September and I was due.  In October I suffered some nerve damage from getting the flu shot and stopped my donations because they come from the same arm I get pain in.  It’s not just laying there during donations.  You need to keep track of the “draws” and “returns”, and during the draws, you need to squeeze a stress ball to keep the pressure up.  Otherwise what will happen is that the alarm will go off and there will be a problem.  An important problem.  Squeezing the ball keeps the blood flowing and prevents it from slowing down too much or stop altogether… NOT good.

Platelet Fact:  Cancer, transplant, trauma, and open-heart surgery patients require platelet transfusions to control their bleeding.

I don’t like to say no to Marty.  He’s always been a nice guy to talk to and one time sent me a little platelet guy.

Platelet Guy

Though I’ve always been committed to donating platelets, I’ve not always had a pleasant experience.  It took me a few times in the beginning to get used to it; and one very specific time that I got sick from it.  Not sick, sick; but I felt horrible.  THE  most important thing you can do for yourself is to drink plenty of water before and after your donation.  Keep hydrated–very important.  The next, if not more important thing to do to prevent getting sick is to eat very well before your donation.  What I mean by that is that you need to build up your iron and what I do is eat generously, but not over eat, a nice steak, go easy on fats and dairy.  I usually do a london broil a couple of days before donation, night before, etc.  On the day of donation, you simply MUST eat well.  By that I mean you must eat like a human, and not a rabbit.  Eat healthy, but EAT.  Yesterday for breakfast I actually ate a beef filling I had made out of chopped beef, onions, vegetables and tomatos and water.  It was left over from a sort of beef pot pie…. individuals ones encased in pie dough.  Then two hours later I ate salad, a beef empanada, rice and water.  THEN, about a half hour before my donation, I ate a ham and cheese sandwich on a bagel with water.  My stomach did not get upset at all.  This last meal was eaten in the hospital cafeteria, which is probably the only redeeming value of donating at this hospital.  A place to relax in.  Oh, another good point.  I always go to my donations early.  Early enough so that I can relax sufficiently so that my temperature has a chance to settle down.  Commuting to my donations always elevates my temp. and I’ve been rejected just because of that in the past.  Oh, and don’t drink hot beverages right before donating as that will elevate your temp, as well.  Something I never thought about.  Something I never thought about, but is important is to take the time to sit and eat those cookies and sweets they offer you after donation.

Notice for Diabetics:

This is the one time you may indulge in sugary things.  Just here at your donation place.  You sugar levels will be lower and simply put, you need this.  This does not mean that you can eat cookies for the rest of the day, just now, here after your donation.  Just one, maybe two servings… but that’s it.  I am diabetic and I do not drink the juices, but I do have one oatmeal cookie and cream sandwich and I take a pack of pretzels and water with me for the ride home.  Of course, everyone is different.  These are the things that I’ve noticed at work for ME.

Okay, so in review:

  • Eat meat, preferably a good steak a day or so before platelet donation.
  • Eat generously day of your platelet donation.
  • Keep well hydrated all the time, but most important in the days before donation and after.
  • Try to eat something right before your donation.
  • RELAX.  Get relaxed and stay relaxed.
  • Avoid hot beverages right before your donation.
  • Take advantage of the cookies!  Take a minute or two for guilt-free treats.

This morning I slept like a rock and rolled out of bed on the late side, 8:00am.  Usually, I wake up with the normal ruckus of the morning.  Not so today, but that’s a-okay.

Long Overdue

So much to write about but this hot weather has had me in it’s clutches since June.  I think it’s safe to say that I may be going through “the changes”…. sigh… sounds so baaad.

Around 50 days ago I had an apheresis appointment to donate platelets.   Dare I make a long story with tedious details short, by just saying that after I filled out my application, I ended up leaving without making the donation.  I know… so bad.  My horns got twisted after they left me hanging in the hall for a good long while without so much as an apology for the wait, no explanation, nothing.  Every time I went inside, I was instructed to go back out into the hallway.  There are two chairs to donate in, yet one remained unused.  They must have thought that I couldn’t hear their conversation, but I could hear every word.  Apparently, there was nobody available to tend to my donation, the second chair; which kind of confused me because one technician has always handled the two chairs.  One person who knew the staff there, was talking about knowing someone they’d like to get hired, and she asked the nurse/phlebotomist/techie what she should do.

Well, after listening to this chit chat and looking at the clock again, I finally went inside and blew up… well, my version of it.  I know, that was wrong.  With my voice cracking, I asked the nurse why they schedule appointments when they obviously are not ready to service my appointment on time.  I got profuse apologies, but again no explanation.  Personally, apologies don’t cut it for me.  It is just “required” words coming out of the mouth of an employee just trying to placate the irate customer, without much meaning.  Plus, apologies will not speed things up.  I’d much rather be dealt with in a straightforward manner.  If she had just come out into the hallway with an apology and told me what the delay was, and hey, can you wait around another half hour or so, maybe go to the cafeteria and come back.  I can deal with that.  I’d much rather go somewhere else and come back.  Maybe that sounds silly, but at least I’d be informed and then I can deal with the situation much better than being left to hang and hang and hang to the point of exasperation.  Well, that’s me.  Anyway, I felt my temper rising and I curtly told her that I would make another appointment and left.  I was pissed.  Later, I was told that they were ready for me at the exact time that I left.  I think it’s pretty interesting since I was never told that, or I would have stayed.

People don’t realize the hoops I must jump through just to make this donation, which I do so gladly and with much love.  However, to make this happen, it takes much more than juggling my own schedule.  I must juggle DH’s schedule as well, because I need to make sure that he’s home to pick up our boy from school and for him to cancel anything he’s planning on for that night.  Typically, there is plenty of time in between so this is not inconvenience, but he misses his night out; then I must remind him practically on a daily basis that I have my appointment on such and such a date.  Also, there’s consideration for commuting to the hospital, using gas, then spending extra money on a light meal at the hospital before the donation.  You really need to make sure you have eaten WELL or it’s possible you will get sick, which HAS happened to me.  Finally, the two dollars to pay for parking.   Making sure I have the gas and the extra money is, well, another hoop to be cleared.  No, I don’t plan on bringing my own food… though I do bring my own water.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, last Monday, another appointment.  Thankfully, it went without a hitch.  Hemoglobin was a 14… woo hoo, the highest I ever had.  84 minutes to donate a triple unit of platelets.   The low side to this was that this time I forgot my water at home and I had no money to get a little something before donating.  I did eat almost before I left for the hospital and did not get sick.  I got my water there, before the donation, though I’ve got to be careful not to drink too much or I’d have a bursting bladder in the middle of it all….. aaah– no.

I can’t resist showing you this little guy.  He’s Platelet Man.  He was sent to me as the sweetest of gestures by Marty at the blood center.  He is my contact there and the guy I make my appointments with.  He had a pretty patient ear (and that’s quite a feat for a guy) and listened to my ramblings about the fiasco experience.  I mean, I’ll admit that I was overly sensitive and should not have left the appointment.  At the time I felt that I had to or I’d really blow up on those girls and didn’t want to do that.  It’s stuff like this that bring me back to focus and show me just how much I still need to learn about life.

Platelet Day With a Side of Yarn

Someone tell me what the heck is the point of fat free Half-n-Half?  For some reason, I need to see that creamy brown color to my coffee in the morning.  DH means well, but fat free just doesn’t cut it.  I seem to be using more of this stuff because the color is not there… no taste, either.  Sigh.

Well, on to today’s post which will just be a blurb.  I’m in a hurry and I do not have photoshop and I’m not sure which program out there will flip the photo so that ya’ll can read the card, but it says that I have my platelet donation appointment today.  I’m pretty excited because it’s been over a year since I last did this and it feels great to get back into the swing of things.  A little worried that my hemoglobin will be low because I’m not eating red meat a lot, but DH has been a blood donor like forever and he eats red meat even less than I do.  This morning will have scrambled eggs for breakfast and swiss cheese if we have any.  These eggs are fresh out of the hens and ducks, though I think the duck eggs are eaten.  Gotta be better than those that are mass produced.  We get them from my dad’s neighbor in PA.  Same guy that searches the woods for mushrooms.  He’s from an East European country, but I forget which one, and this guy has kept his traditions.  Amazing.  I’m not dead yet, so I feel comfortable saying that he knows what he’s doing.  The mushrooms have a really earthy taste… so different from the farmed ones.  I can’t eat a lot of fermented or fungus-y stuff; but every once in a while, I either saute them or make a soup.  The spouse skeeves (spell checker is no help) mushrooms, so all the more for me.

No spinning done yesterday.  I think I needed a rest since I spent the last few days spinning almost constantly, between daily tasks and whole nights.  In my former post, I said that the singles seem hard.  However, the possibility exists that once plied, the twist will relax and the yarn will feel softer.  Also, if it ply is not overly twisted, the finished yarn will be softer.  Do I have that right?  I’ll soon see because my bobbin is almost full, though I don’t see myself having the time to spin today because of my appointment.   WHICH brings me the idea that I can spend some time before my appointment at All About Ewe since it’s just two-three blocks away from there… woo hoo!  Missed going yesterday because of church commitments, but will be sure to get there today.  What I love about her website is that there is a page that lists her stock.  Very handy if you need something in particular, but that’s not to say that people don’t just mosey on over there.  It’s a very nicely put together store and very spacious as compared to a lot of other shops that I’ve been to.  Very nice situation, off street parking which is pretty convenient.

Okay, better get going I’m getting hungry and that means my day is starting with an nice eggs and toast breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day, you know!

Definition of Apheresis:

Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis): The process of removing a specific component from blood and returning the remaining components to the donor, in order to collect more of one particular part of the blood than could be separated from a unit of whole blood. Also called hemapheresis or pheresis*.

*Pheresis: Procedure in which the blood is filtered, separated, and a portion retained, with the remainder being returned to the individual.

There are various types of pheresis. In leukapheresis, the leukocytes (white blood cells) are removed. In plateletpheresis, the thrombocytes (blood platelets) are removed. And in plasmapheresis, the liquid part of the blood (the plasma) is removed.

From the Greek “aphairesis” meaning withdrawal.

If you want to learn more about the apheresis procedure and what it does, you can find out more at the Blood Center of NJ site.  Please note there are two more links towards the bottom of the page for “learning more about the procedure” and “who needs your donation”.  You will be surprised at what you didn’t know.

Meet "the Machine"

Did you know that Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, formerly known as “Rahway Hospital”, serves Seattle’s Best coffee?  Tastes so good, especially since I broke my coffee pot a few days ago and have been boiling my coffee, you know, like in the good old days.  It wasn’t bad, but lots of grinds guaranteed in every cup.

I’ve been thinking about how blessed I am, being able to donate platelets.  It comforts me to know that this old, diseased body can still be good for something in it’s brokenness.  Well, more than that.  I’m saving a life with every donation and that’s good to think about.  This appointment also got me out of the house today, and let me tell you, the sun is HOT out there.  What a beautiful day!

I thought I’d take some time to talk a little bit about my experiences that deviated from the norm during these past few years.  Now, when you undergo the apheresis procedure, you can’t just lay there and fall asleep, though I’ve been seriously tempted.  When I slide into that reclining position, my body relaxes to the point of slipping into slumber.  Well, I did just that on one such occasion and all hell broke loose.  You have an active role during this procedure and you definitely need to pay attention.  There are two parts to this:

  1. Withdrawal of your blood
  2. Separation of components needed
  3. Returning the blood to your body

The nurse inserts the same kind of needle like if you were giving whole blood and gives you a spongeball.  When the machine starts to withdraw blood,you need to squeeze that ball the whole time it’s on the “withdraw”.   You can even watch a window on the machine as your blood is gathered and running through the machine.  Next, the machine signals the “return”, when your blood is returned to your body through the same port that the blood came out of.  During this time, you can relax your hand because that squeezing creates a pressure, the same kind when nurses take your blood pressure and you need to squeeze your hand.  One the withdraw, it makes it easier for the blood to leave your body; but when your blood is returning, the squeezing makes it harder for it to come back and it’s sort of running against the current, so to speak.  Well, when I fell asleep, for however briefly, my pressure was too low and that screwed up the works.  Alarms went off and the technician had to adjust the machine to accommodate the change in pressure and I had to pump that ball fast and furious to get those alarms to stop.  In the end, I was okay, but falling asleep is not really a good thing to do when you’re doing this.  I’ve learned my lesson.  One thing I’ve got to say is that I was pretty disappointed to learn that I can’t knit or crochet while doing the apheresis thang.

Every time I do this, it’s different.  Usually I am able to do a triple donation, but sometimes it’s a double.  This just means that according to your body, you may be able to donate either one, two, or three units of donations, s-a-f-e-l-y.  That is, at no risk to you or the platelet level needed in your body to stay healthy.

Oh boy, it’s almost time for me to get in there.  I’ll report more later or tomorrow.

June 13th~The Morning After

I’m disappointed. Last night I got rejected to donate platelets because my blood pressure and temperature was too high. I get a headache just as I was going there. I tried to have it done anyway, but they said they couldn’t because the process would aggravate my headache and I certainly didn’t want that since I still had to drive all the way across my county to get back home in thunderstorm weather. But still, I really wanted to do this on my birthday. I can only think that there was a higher reason for this rejection.

I have some thoughts about birthdays in general. Some people really need for their birthdays to be special occasions and especially need their spouses to mark the day in some really special manner. I can honestly say that I don’t need that. That blueberry pie last night was as grand as a special birthday cake… which I can’t/shouldn’t have anyway. But this was not always so with me. As a kid, I couldn’t wait for my day to come and see what presents I would get. Invariably, I always got something that I “needed”, not something that I particularly “wanted”. One year, however, I received a 35mm Canon AE-1 camera, then another year I received a tv set, both from my parents. I actually still have the tv set, though have no idea if it still works since it was new on my 21st birthday.

To get back on the track, I realize that if you are a person who is accustomed to making a big thing out of your birthday every year, the year that comes and goes without the usual fanfare is the year that you start to feel your age. I don’t know, it’s just something that came to me a little while ago. I mean, it’s been a long while since I had a birthday celebration. It really just comes and goes just like any other day, maybe with the addition of personal reflection about my life, my age, mortality, legacy, etc. This year especially, I hardly noticed except when I was driving to my blood appointment and a playful thought sneaked in when the nurse asked me my date of birth. I said the date searching for some form of recognition from the nurse, but she did not flinch, let alone make a comment. But that’s okay. She probably was at the end of a long day.

I kept thinking of my sister who is 11 months younger than I. From May 18th to June 12th, we are the same age. I am guessing that she is relieved now that I am older than she, again, for the 45th time. She is always poking at me to color my hair. Her famous line is, “People who see us together will know by your gray hairs, how old I am.” What a hoot. Now she has a sister, correction: an older sister with an orange streak in the front…. yes, I streaked my hair again with the very same Color Waves kit. I have one more kit to go. This time I think it looks better because I strictly stuck to just the gray streak in the front and one streak underneath, on each side.

Gotta run now as I’ll be taking my funny boy outside. Yesterday he clearly said, “ambulance” . So exciting! He says all syllables very clearly. Not like “helicopter”, where he’s got the number of syllables correct, but says, “hel-hi-ha-ha”. So, in my book he already knows two complicated words! It’s a good thing we live in the city and regularly hear the sirens and helicopters, traffic and police.

Have a great day!

Happy June 12th !

Today is my Birthday and the weather is a little cloudy here, but very cool (so far) without discernable humidity and that is exactly the way I like it. I am waiting for the little one to make his poopies before going out. Normally, I would not wait, but this morning he’s been “meaningfully” standing by the windows and poopies seem to appear, coincidentially, right around the same time…. so we wait. The wait shouldn’t be too long, but he knows that I’m on to him and he’s been running from window to window, then to the back door, which is opened with the screen door locked.

I wish you guys can hear our chimes. I can hear them from anywhere in the house, though they are on the front porch. They are not those little tinkily ones. They are deeper, the sound richer, and they resonate deep inside me. Late at night, I can hear them faintly, but clear as a bell….. okay, it’s 2 hours+ later. Little Drake came in, pressing his diaper saying, “pee pee”. I took one look and it looked darker than usual down there and jumped up to get his diaper changed. It was pudding poopie. Is that a little too graphic for ya? Well, this is what us moms have for subject matter. Gave the baby chocolate pudding two days ago, and well, it revisited today. So funny. He kept calling it “dirt”. Then, my sister called to wish me “Happy Birthday” and stayed on with her for over an hour. Something that doesn’t happen too often because she works, but this is her day off. She was making sausage bread, but apparently, there was no chance that we would be bringing it over for my BD.

Another obstacle to enjoying homemade sausage bread is that I have an appointment tonight to donate platelets. Yeah, I know; but it’s my birthday! Actually, this would be something I very much want to do on my BD. It’s something special… and I get to go out alone. Plus, this just happens to be my Night Out Day. For those of you who do not know, I am a Platelet donor. They call it “Apheresis” and an account of my first donation is here. Today will be my second donation, but not because I haven’t tried. Because of my limited availability, I need to make an appointment well in advance; so this one was made over a month ago. When they called yesterday to confirm the appt, I made my next one, which just happens to fall on DH’s birthday. We will have plenty of time to do something for his day because he gets out of work at 2pm and my appt is not until 7pm. Our birthdays always fall on the same day of the week. How cool is that? Well, I think it is.

I think about our life, our little family unit life. We live a quiet existence from day to day. I note that I’ve settled myself down quite a bit after marrying DH. I look at those around us who are not so lucky and realize that if even any one of us were taken out of the equation, life would be so different and much less happy. I think that my and my baby’s life would be so different if “Daddie” were taken away from us. I would not have the luxury of staying at home and leisurely doing things with my son at a moment’s notice, or not like just staying home to chill out. In that cruel world, I’d have to work full time, with my baby in the hands of a stranger. I don’t even know how I’d be able to do it because my salary has never approached what I’d have to shell out for a caregiver; and NOW after not working for over 2 years what could I possibly make. My disposition would probably be a miserable one, rushing around everywhere, being short with my son or even lashing out at him. HE would be the prime and most vulnerable target to take the hurtful blows of a widowed wife, lashing out in her grief, anger and frustration.  This perpetually happy boy would not be so happy any longer.

I definitely could write more graphic about other scenarios looming at the front of my brain, but refuse to because that is not the point right now. Today, above all days, I need to count my blessings. The first one being the birth of Debra Marie Sedita on June 12, 1961 in Brooklyn, NY. I used to think that my life was pointless and could never see where my life was going… or how I could be happy going wherever I was meant to go. Now, I can finally see through the mist, my course steady.  I now have the information I need to steer my ship. I know now where I need to go; and for now, it’s raising a toddler  boy… and an adult boy (at times!). For the first time in my life I know what I need to do… I need to do whatever it takes to make it possible for my boy to grow into the best man he can possibly be. Wow, that is a tall order!  I gain more and more clarity every single day.  I need to be supportive and present opportunities, where I can. Mostly, I just need to be true to myself and present that to my son.  Be an example.  It’s a 24/7 job… but I don’t look at it as being a job, it’s a life, it’s living. I need to teach by example, so focusing on my own life will, in turn, benefit my child. I am forever grateful for my life and what I’ve learned so far. In my short 46 years, I’ve learned so much and need to pass it on.

I shall close today with this beloved quote. Another beauty that has really shaped my life. If anyone knows the author, I would really appreciate if you could enlighten me.

I shall pass through this world but once.
Any good therefore that I can do
or any kindness that
I can show to any human being
let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.
Author Unknown

Got No Feet Here

Yep, that’s correct. The ultrasound confirmed that I am not pregnant. They performed a Trans Vaginal Ultrasound. I guess there is not much to say about it… I should have brought my laptop with me yesterday because I went for coffee after and probably would have had lots to say. I’ll try to get it down now, but it’s hard to concentrate and get into the emotions with a rambling baby in my ear all day long.

The technician said that my Dr would have the results in a couple of days… shoot, I had to jump in there and ask if there was a baby in there and was told ‘no’. My first impression was of immense sadness. Somehow I feel that this was my last chance to have one, given the diabetes and my age. Maybe when I get this sugar under control it could be a different story, but I worry about the age thing and growing high risk of numerable possible defects.

My DH seems unconcerned and maybe I should take his lead. His approach to life has always been so simple and always on the money. I wonder, however, if he might be protecting his right to the marriage rites of the bedroom. He has never been one to be irresponsible, but he doesn’t seem to be considering the consequences of getting pregnant…. HA… maybe it’s because I am not getting my period. That is another thing. I need to find out why. On the one hand I am hoping that it’s my changes starting and on the other, I grieve for the babies at my breast that will never be if that is the case. In any case, I won’t get close to him at least until I have the mammogram, which is in another 7 days…. whoa… he’s been without for a few weeks now and the only hint of desire I see is that little smile and twinkle in his eyes when he kisses me goodnite. He’s so good.

So now, I will be focusing on wrestling with this diabetes. I have decided to do it the Atkins way. As it is, my Dr is telling me to avoid carbs, white flour, and anything that is refined and that is basically what Atkins is. Yesterday I followed it pretty well, except at the very end. After my ultrasound, I went to get supplies from the pharmacy for testing my blood sugar, which was around dinner time. I figured that I would be in and out of there because all they had to do was check to see if they had them, then put two boxes of supplies into a bag, then I pay and leave. They checked the inventory when I dropped off the Rx, then was told it would be at least an HOUR because they had a lot of people waiting.. .well, I only saw one person waiting… okay, I know that people are roaming around the store. Well, they made me wait the HOUR… I was on the verge of tears because I was starving by then and afraid that I was going to have some kind of diabetic fit, shakes, or whatever. I really wanted to blow up at the clerk, but didn’t. I am very proud of myself, people! The bad thing is that there was a Wendy’s right next door and I flew in there and got a Frescata ham and swiss sandwich combo and ate all of it. Got a diet soda and only had a few sips of that, but ate all of the fries which is a NO NO.

Just remembered that I was an hour late taking my second reading! Scrambled to the kitchen, took the reading, it was pretty high. As I was writing it down for my Dr, I realized that I took the reading at the wrong time. It was supposed to be 2 hours after lunch, and not breakfast. SO. I had to call Bayer to find out if I could delete that reading because it would screw up the 14 day average number. By the time I got through, I could not delete that one reading, but could delete all readings, which I opted to do because there was only one other reading saved. Okay, so now I must remember to do it later. I will schedule my lunch so that I do my sugar after I put Gabriel down to his nap… which means lunch will be during the 12 o’clock hour.

Remember when you are on a diet, and especially with diabetes, everything is focused on food… what to eat, when to eat. I must eat on a regular schedule… and make sure that I have snacks, which is on a schedule, too. I am really hungry now, but have to wait… but at least my meal is already made. Dinner from last night was chicken breasts cooked in plain tomato soup. What I am a bit concerned about is trying to eat veggies that are low in carbs… I don’t think that is possible. I think that I have to eat lettuce for two weeks before I am able to incorporate other, more interesting veggies. I just “discovered” collard greens! I passed them by every week, but then decided to try them because they have iron in them. I downloaded a couple of recipes and noted that one serving has at least 10 grams of carbs. So while I can have it, half of my carb allowance will be taken. I used 8 grams already for breakfast with cottage cheese and cream for coffee.

I can see that I really need to learn everything I can about carbs, fats (good/bad), and everything inbetween. As you can imagine, I am cramming like for an important test. Books, internet info, food plans, etc. These next two days are really important because these readings will probably guide my dr as to what course of action to take as far as meds or insulin goes. I will be as strict as I can be these two days because I really do not want insulin and if she prescribes it, I will try to get her to allow me to try and control it with diet. Two more weeks or so should not make that much of a difference, especially since I am not pregnant.

I’ve told my sister about this, but not anyone else. I really should tell my brother because he is also high risk. Oh, another good tidbit is that I found out that I can still donate both, whole blood and platelets. I called up the Blood Center of NJ today and got that info. I might hit a drive soon as they are in need of my blood type… but then again platelets are needed, too… we’ll see. Maybe I’ll even wait awhile. It was through my platelet donation that I found out about my sugar; so not only is it saving other lives, but it could save your own in the process!

Gotta run and make a phone call!

Saving a Life is Easy~Donate Blood

I wrote about my platelet donation back on Nov. 21st.  and today I got a really nice and motivational comment that I want to share with you.  I felt it was important because I wanted Kelly’s comment to be more accessible to someone doing a search on the subject and here it is:

“Today I gave platelets for the first time and experienced the same “tingling” and “vibrating” sensations that you described. I hated it and was so tempted to ask them to stop the machine and let me off!! I actually eat 7 tums during the two hours it took to take my single unit. The crazy thing is, I signed up to do it again in 3 weeks. But, I’m going to eat a calcium-rich diet between now and then. However, the friend I went with had no problems at all with her donation and she gave two units in the amount of time it took for me to give one.

“With all that said, I want to thank you for donating platelets, for I have a very personal reason to encourage people to donate any blood products. This past January my 19 year old son was diagnosed with leukemia. We lost track of how many bags of platelets, plasma, and packed red blood cells he used. He relapsed in June and had a bone marrow transplant in August. While waiting to recover from the transplant he had daily transfusions of all blood products, but mostly platelets. It grieves me to say that he died in September due to complications after the transplant.

“And now it has taken me 3 months to get myself back to the same clinic where he was initially diagnosed and donate platelets. I am so grateful to people like you, who have given this life-saving gift and would encourage anyone else who reads this to please consider giving blood. The need is greater than you can ever imagine. Thank you for your gift.”

Kelly, thanks for sharing your experiences.  I am sorry to hear about the passing of your son… but I am also glad that you’ve decided to donate platelets.  His life will be remembered and truly a blessing for those who receive your platelets.

As I mentioned in my email to you, I need to straighten out some medical issues before I donate again… hopefully by January.

If anyone is interested in learning more about donating blood or apheresis, you can check out this site, Blood Center of NJ.

Platelet Donation Update

Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis): A special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give a specific blood component, such as platelets. During the apheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component is returned to the donor.

Yep… I finally was able to donate yesterday at the RIGHT hospital. If you don’t know the story, check it out here…. Guess what? When I walked in there, however, the security guard told me that she didn’t have any notification that someone was donating last night. I almost hit the roof again, but I said there must have been a mistake. So she made a phone call and whoever was at the other end of the line informed here that they didn’t know anything about it either, then she just looked at me. I said, “Look, this is the second time that this has happened to me.” In a way, that was a little fib (check out why here); but I wasn’t leaving that hospital until I got in, so she sent me down to the lab and said that they would know there.

Great, my foot was in through the door. I made it to the blood “lab”, which was just a blood drawing station. I blurted out to the first guy I saw that I had an appointment to donate platelets and that the woman at the security desk said that she didn’t have any information on it. He told me that she didn’t have the right information. I said that “she called someone”, to which he replied that she called the wrong people. Ugh… He asked for my name, then checked his schedule and said that I was at the right place…. yea! So, sat down and filled out the forms and was interviewed right away.

As a side note, they do this by appointment only, so you are taken right away and everything happens very quick, though they were totally polite, informative and did not give the impression of rushing things. Next, my blood got tested; which tells them iron level, platelet level, other stuff but I don’t remember. I sat down on the very comfortable couch and the guy asked me how much I weighed. I said, “WHAT?” Ha, I hadn’t expected that. I was told that they take the height and weight of the donor, which will tell them exactly how much of a donation I can make and what components they can take. I’ll just leave the part out here because, well, lets just say for confidentiality reasons. He informed me that I could make a triple donation, which means that my total donation of platelets could be given to three people. It was totally up to me as to what I wanted to do, give platelets, whole blood, plasma, or red cells. I said, “Give me the works, we’ll go for the triple platelets”.

I found this whole process very interesting. Did you know that your platelets can be given to anyone? Blood type doesn’t matter. I asked the tech if I could knit while doing this, but he said “no” because I had to keep squeezing a squeeze ball while the machine was drawing out my blood…. shucks! I also brought a book and attempted to read, but that proved impossible because I could not really turn the pages, so I just talked with the blood man and watched some TV. Getting back: He familiarized me with the machine. He told me to squeeze the ball on the draw, then on the return (of the blood to my body) I needed to stop squeezing. The blood goes in, then the blood is separated, the platelets go into a blood bag and the rest of the blood comes back to me. How cool. I watched this happening as a little clear plastic box shows out of the machine and I could see the blood coming in and emptying out as it came back to me.

Oh, I was a “quickie”. Personally, I love quickies! Apparently, 71 minutes for a triple donation is pretty quick. In the beginning, he actually told me the time it would take for each type of donation that I was able to give. How cool is that? Anyway, there are a few things you guys should know. In addition to the side effects you can experience from giving whole blood, there are other side effects when giving platelets. First, they treat the blood with “citrate” to stop it from coagulating. You can experience a tingly feeling on your lips and head, which I felt almost immediately. This has something to do with calcium, so they give you Tums to counteract the effect, but it didn’t help me too much. This was okay, though, because it’s no big deal. Then I started to feel dizzy and nauseous… well not nauseous, but my whole body was something. Vibrating? I don’t know, but lets just say that I was queasy, but not exactly sick to my stomach. I felt light headed, too. I never had this when giving whole blood, so for me, it’s significant…. but still, no big deal. Maybe I’m just a trusting person and I trusted these guys? Don’t know… but I was just so happy to be doing something worthwhile that I was absolutely giddy throughout the whole thing, joking and kidding around. They might have thought that I was drunk or high or something but hey, they tested my blood, right? I told them that I had a toddler at home and this was a vacation for me!

All in all, no problemo and I’ll do it again next month. Yeah, with platelets, you can give them once a month. They get mostly replenished in 24 hours. I did, however, underestimate the toll this procedure took on me. I was planning on spending the rest of the night out, hitting the stores, or coffee shop, or something. Well, when it was over, I just wanted to get home and get into bed. I felt very tired, very drained. So I got home and went to bed early. This morning, the nausea was gone, but I had to take a nap after breakfast, then again in the afternoon, though Little Drake didn’t let me sleep. I just need to eat well, get iron in my system and calcium. I have supplements to take and I bought calcium fortified OJ today, so I’m set to go.

I never realized how much of a special gift, platelets are. Without a platelet donation, it takes 6 donations of whole blood to get 1 donation of platelets. So if someone can give platelets, it saves 6 donations of whole blood. Oh, better explained below:

Why is Blood Separated?
Different patients need different types of blood components, depending on their illness or injury. After you donate whole blood, the unit is separated into platelets, red cells, and plasma in our laboratory. Only two tablespoons of platelets are collected from a whole blood donation. Six whole blood donations must be separated and pooled to provide a single platelet transfusion. However, one apheresis donation provides enough platelets for one complete transfusion…that is six times the amount collected from a whole blood donation.

Who Needs Platelets?
Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery require platelet transfusions to survive. Because platelets can be stored for only five (5) days, the need for platelet donations is vast and continuous. The platelet donation process is called an Apheresis donation.

This is a link for the American Red Cross. This has got to be the easiest thing one can do to help others out there. Some of us cannot donate money, but giving blood is free, giving platelets is free, too!

And you get juice and cookies after!

Platelet Donation

About a month ago, I wrote about my non-experience of an attempt to donate platelets. Here is the refresher for your memory. Well, then there was the follow up after my <ahem> little outburst, you can find it here.

Just so that I don’t forget, I want to announce that my next appointment is this Monday at 4:30pm at Rahway Hospital. I just want to say that I will NOT miss this appointment! The Drake will be home, so I will not have to worry about a thing.

I really am still very excited about doing this. My blood type is really very common, so the fact that I am able to donate platelets is very special to me; something that will mean more and save more than one life with the one donation. The whole process is called “Apheresis Donation”. More information here. If you want to do something really worthwhile, please consider donating blood, especially if you have type O-… rare type, but also the most needed because anyone, regardless of their blood type, can receive type O- blood. Can you imagine the importance of this? Also, please consider becoming a platelet donor. One donation goes so far.

Of course, I will blog all about my experience. My only concern is whether I’ll be able to knit while they are doing this. It will take a couple of hours and I’d like to get some knitting or looming time in. 😀

I believe that the greatest gift anyone can give is of oneself. Blood donation embodies this idea. You are literally giving of yourself… at no cost.

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