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My Apheresis Donation


Temp:    99.0

Pulse:    96

Hemoglobin:   13.9

Blood Pressure:   128/94

I was pretty impressed with my hemoglobin count.  Wow.  Last year it was at a high of 14.0, this year I’m not eating a lot of red meat, which is what they say is the best source of iron and for donating.  Red meat is starting to disagree with me, so I’ve drastically cut it down.   I think the only red meat I’ve had in the past few months was one hamburger this past Sunday.  Still, I’m not saying that it’s the best thing to do; not even sure that it’s the best thing for me, but it is what it is.

So, I got to Rahway Hospital, otherwise known as Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.  I really dislike it when they change the name of hospitals.  My husband was born at RAHWAY hospital. I know, I’m being irrational but there is so much history there and they go and change the name.  I digress…

Anyway, got there early and headed for the cafeteria for the Seattle’s Best coffee they serve there.  What I should have done was have something to eat (and you’ll see why), but I only had 15-20 minutes until my appointment.  They also have free wifi, and I’ve been known to publish posts while sitting right there.  Getting there early allows my body a chance to settle from the drive, as well.  I’ve been rejected from donating before because of my temperature being a little elevated.  By the way, having coffee right before having your temperature taken does not help at all.  Luckily, I brought from home a large water bottle of iced tea I started to guzzle when the technician reminded me that hot coffee = a no no.  Yes, I was being difficult.  Apparently, a lot of donors were being “difficult” that day.  At least she was laughing.

Everything seemed as normal as I remembered it, and I was able to give double units of platelets.  What I didn’t realize is that because it was approximately  a year since my last platelet donation, this time was like my first.  The body sort of gets used to it with time, and by that I mean this:  Your initial donation usually has, um, side effects, and everyone is different in this.  The most common thing to happen while undergoing the procedure is a tingly feeling in your lips and face.  For this, they give you TUMS, calcium supplements, which really does alleviate that feeling.  When donating, they use an anticoagulant such as sodium citrate.  A very good post with information is here.  I had a very good  phlebotomist this time and was reminded of the time at a different hospital when the phleb. messed up both of my arms and I could not donate at all that day… got me really mad because it was quite a drive for me during the end of the day commute craziness.

Everything went along pretty normal, and I went straight home.  Don’t think that after this you can go on ahead to a lively evening of fun, or even of just being out.  Again, everyone is different, but I get very tired and need to rest for the rest of the night.  What was different for me this time was that I really got sick.  I can’t say I was dizzy, but I was nauseous and had a headache to the point that I thought I was going to toss whatever cookies I had in me, but didn’t.  This persisted on into the next day (yesterday) and again, this morning still had a slight headache, but a cup of coffee fixed that right up.  Now, I don’t want this to discourage anyone from donating component blood, but I felt I should document it here because I really think that it’s due to the possibility I didn’t eat well enough before my donation.  Like I said before, I’ve not been eating a lot of red meat lately and for lunch, the meal right before my donation, I just had chicken soup and soy nougats that are supposed to have a lot of protein in them.  So, I don’t know.  Afterwards, I was so nauseous that I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything.  So maybe this should be the “CAUTION” paragraph.  Please make sure that you prepare yourself properly before a donation of platelets, or any component blood.  For whole blood they just tell you to drink a lot, and that’s important for platelets, too; but maybe because this procedure is much more involved that we need to be aware of and do more for ourselves, and for our own good.  Don’t act tough.  Don’t act stupid.  Taking care of yourself is cool.  Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you could do.

The following has not been researched:  Okay, something else I learned yesterday which was a shock; and this applies to all women out there.  I found out that if you’re not an already established platelet donor, all women are rejected from donating.  Something about what women carry and are transmitting to recipients of, I think, just platelets but really not sure.  The tech really didn’t explain it very well, so if anyone knows, please, PLEASE, let me know.  I tried to do a search, but so far getting just articles about the normal reasons women (or anyone) can’t donate like if you’ve gotten a tattoo in the last 12 months, or if you’re pregnant, or if you’ve been out of the county… etc.  You know, I don’t get the pregnancy part.  I’ve been pregnant and they still take me, albeit because I’m an established donor, but then the reasons a woman who’s been pregnant can’t give ARE pregnancy related.  Again, the content of this paragraph has not been researched…. yet.

I’ll keep ya posted.

A New Day


Well, I’m still wallowing in the murky depths of writer’s block.  I love my blog and I do love writing, but when I get to sitting in front of my computer, there’s a complete wall that goes up… the tallest one I’ve ever encountered.

Anyway, while swimming around here the other day, I came across a great post called, How Your Audience Is Like The Mogwai” I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and got some great tips for successful blogging.  Here are some ideas I liked:

  1. Carry a journal, a little notebook for jotting down ideas, phrases, whatever for blog posts:  I need for this NOT to be electronic.  Too much of a learning curve for me; and has happened in the past, hasn’t worked out (to put it kindly).
  2. Create a blogging schedule:  Decide what is “realistically” achievable.  I think I’m going to aim for twice a week, but realize that once a week might be what I’m only capable of for right now.
  3. Timing publication of posts wisely:  I’ve never thought about this, but I will.  I am a late-night writer and as soon as I’m done, I publish.  Well, maybe I’ll need to hold off until the next day.  I live on the east coast of the United States.  Don’t know where this will fit in, but I’ll have to give it good thought.
  4. Using Facebook and twitter to advertise published posts:  Well, I never really liked this idea, but heck, I’m not doing anything else that’s positive with these accounts (except of course for playing Bejeweled Blitz).
  5. Use Pictures:  I don’t remember this from Joey’s blog, but I love using pics in my articles.  I like to use at least one each time.

Okay, so that should be enough for today.

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.

Platelets Going Out!


Just a quick note to say that I’ve been successfully donating double and triple units of platelets. Getting ready for an appointment today, as well; and hope to write about it when I get home while still fresh in my mind.

I also want to thank those who are steady commentators on my platelet posts.  Several of them in 2006 and 2007, and I am so grateful for your interest.  I do notice that I seriously need to tag my posts and will do at least that when I get home, and hopefully I’ll feel up to it.  No reason not to, but sometimes donating platelets takes more out of you than you would think.  Nothing that a nap couldn’t help.

Anyway, I’ve got a few errands to run today beforehand, so I’ll be cutting this short.

Have a great day!

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