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.
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.
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.
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:
- Withdrawal of your blood
- Separation of components needed
- 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.
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!