May 3, 2018

vasovagal - part 2, donation

Yesterday our friends down the street (in the next neighborhood over where people are friendly and wonderful) were hosting a blood drive.  Their daughter died suddenly in August and the blood drive was a way to honor her.  I really wanted to participate.  These are great people.  We love their family.  The loss of their 23 year old daughter devastated everyone that knew them and her.  She was a bubbly, vivacious, spunky girl, who was very loved. 

I had never given blood before.  Translation:  I have felt like I have given blood.  When the doctors check my blood for celiac disease numbers, etc., they fill several little vials.  This true donation thing would be different. 

I decided that after delivering 6 children and tending to their injuries (although when Tank's head was cut open -I deferred to Coach.  Blood oozing from an open wound in the scalp where there is hair - I can't do), I could do this.  I wanted to do this.  I signed up for a 10:10 am time slot. 

I followed all of the instructions.  I drank a ton of water.  I ate a meal in advance.  I had a decent  night sleep.  I wore sleeves that could be pushed up.  All systems were go.  I walked down the street to their house and filled out the paperwork. 

Another friend was donating at the same time.  I was joking with her that she might have to hold my hand.  The family hosting the event had a beautiful spread of food, snacks, and drinks.  The atmosphere was not unlike a party.  There was lots of hugging and chatting.  I was so glad that I could be a part of this memorable and worthy event, and I was touched that I had been included. 

My friend got called to the bus first.  I was talking to another woman, Jo, when my friend suddenly reappeared.  Because she had studied in London for a semester between 1980 and 1996, she couldn't donate.  This was due to a concern about mad cow disease.  The team reviewed her paperwork and flagged her as someone who couldn't donate.  She was flabbergasted. 

I was summoned next.  I walked out to the bus and a woman pricked my finger to check my iron level.  My iron needed to be above 12.5 in order to donate.  Mine was 12.4.  I was bummed, but not totally shocked.  My celiac disease destroyed my villi making it tough for me to absorb essential nutrients like iron.  Thus my constant sleepiness prior to my celiac diagnosis.  The villi are supposed to recover, but I am not sure if mine are up and running yet.  (Note to self:  time to fill out the paperwork the gastro doc keeps requesting and have another endoscopy done to see what is what). 
The bus looked kind of like this one. 
Thanks heartland for the use of the image.

I was surprised when the woman asked if I wanted to try another finger on the other hand.  Could one finger store more iron?  Could I have that superpower?  An iron rich hidden finger?  It WAS possible that another finger could register higher.  Hmm.  OK, then.  I had come this far.  I may as well see if another finger might prove to be a better number.  Drum roll:  13.  Good ole lucky number 13.  I was good to go.  Yippee.  Given my past vasovagal incidents, I was only partially celebrating. 

This is what the bus looked like. 
In my nervous state, I didn't
think to snap a picture of my own. 
Thanks to Heartland for this image. 
I sat in a reclined chair in the bus and Jo ended up sitting across from me.  We agreed to converse during our donation process.  Ah, distraction.  I love to talk, so this was a no-brainer.  I told Jo that I would NOT be copying the antics of the young guy across from  me.  He was staring down at the bag collecting his blood.  Show off.  A big no-no for me.  I also joked with her that I was a bit skeptical about the fact that we were donating on a bus.  I mean, bus rides instantly induce nauseousness in adults who had to ride a bus to school as a child, right?  Who were these people kidding?  As if blood donating wasn't nauseating enough!

I alerted the nurse of my vasovagal history (I have attached a link here in case you want to learn more about vasovagal.  It's fascinating stuff, peeps).  She was not overjoyed.  I assured her that the fact that I would already be in a reclined position was a big plus.  I sat and chatted with Jo about Ed's college search.  I was instructed to continue to squeeze something which made my hand weak, but I did my best. 

Just like that, I was done.  They released the tourniquet thing from around my arm and did something to stop the flow of blood into the tube that was shoved in my vein.  Yes, my hands are getting weak as I type this - in case you are concerned. 

Well, I don't know what it was, but I think it just felt weird.  I swear I wasn't focused on it.  I could feel the sweat starting up and the need to squint really tight.  And darkness.  Oh, it was ugly.  Poor Jo.  I called something to her.  Maybe 'Yeah, I need help' or 'It's happening'.  She alerted the nurses.  Then I tried my damnedest to sleep but these people were sadists.  'Keep your eyes open!' they yelled in my face.  They grilled me about what I had eaten.  My words came out in a soft whisper despite my efforts:  eggs.  oatmeal.  I forgot to tell them about the protein bar. 

There were cold towels.  Bless those towels.  Then for the first time ever in my multiple fainting episodes I experienced a few different things.  First I thought I was going to throw up.  My mouth filled with saliva.  Please Lord, no.  There are people here who don't want to see this.  They are trapped unable to run with their veins being connected to tubes and all.  Next and worst of all - something I never dreamed possible - I thought  I might lose another key bodily function.  Let's just say I had just peed before I entered the bus, so it wasn't that. 

Fortunately my symptoms subsided and they gave me crackers - first they tried to give me pretzels.  In my weakened state, I was still alert enough to remember my celiac disease diet restrictions.  Jo was released before me.  I required an escort into the house with my gatorade to sip and my instructions to chill out for awhile. 

I was thrilled that my blood was accepted, and that I was able to contribute.  If this becomes an annual event though, I will probably volunteer to help in another capacity.  I can bake for the non-fainting-types.  Or greet people at the door - that would be a service I could provide. 

It ended well, but holy crap . . . literally . . . I could've really put a damper on the whole event.  I would've been banished to my neighborhood of mostly shitty people.  Oh, the puns are never-ending.


Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

I think it's wonderful that you even considered giving blood with your history! And you did it! I must admit though I laughed out loud at the thought of you "dropping some kids off at the pool"! :)

Gigi said...

Bless your heart! You did it! But, yes, I think next time you need to volunteer in a different capacity.