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Monday, November 23, 2009

Plasma

Dear friends and family,
This past Saturday, I donated plasma. Here's the story.

I've never liked needles. Who has, really? I still wig out whenever I think of a needle penetrating my flesh, especially if its purpose is to draw out my life and suck it through clear tubes. I had to have an IV for my wisdom teeth extraction two winters ago, and I wasn't very happy about that, but I was unconscious for most of the time, so I made it all right.

My school has a ministry that gives the money received for donating plasma to orphans in India. Last Spring, my school also had a human trafficking awareness conference. After the moving conference, there was a great surge to donate plasma. My friend and I were going to donate, but she'd recently gotten a tattoo and was therefore ineligible, and I could never find an available time that matched with the scheduled plasma trips. Until this past Saturday!


I left in a car with 2 acquaintances for the plasma donating center around noon. We got turned around on the way because the other car of 3 that we were following was unfamiliar with the area. We finally made it to the center and we signed in at 1:08. Men in Tights was playing on the television screens. We thought it was stupid. During our wait, the nurses gave us material to read that told us what to expect and that we shouldn't donate if we had done such-or-such. We were eventually called up one at a time to verify our identities. Then we waited again. Eventually, we were each called to a questioning room where they jotted down our general information. More waiting. Return of the King is playing now. Eventually, we were each called to the finger pricking room. It wasn't so bad. More waiting.

I was the last in our group of 6 who signed the sign in sheet, so I was the last to get called up each time. When I finally got called in for my physcal, it was about 5, the first of my friends was already in the plasma extraction process, and Frodo and Sam were almost to Mount Doom. The nice lady who conducted my physical gave me Chef Boyardi lasagna and peanut butter crackers, and we had a good time in the examination room. By the way, I am infinitely grateful to my parents for raising me right, as is evidenced by my being able to truthfully answer "No" to all of the sketchy questions the nurse had to ask. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I waited only a bit longer after my physical, and then, it was time! The reclined chair was pretty comfortable. The people around me seemed peaceful enough. Aah, but they had tubes sticking out of their arms... When the nurse came to me, I told her I was nervous. I think I was trying to be dramatic in order to get attention and comfort. The lady catty-corner from me gave me what I was looking for and told me, "It's not so bad. If I can do it, you can do it. And i's not as bad as giving blood." Uh huh. All right then. Yep, I can do this. Why are you probing my veins? What are you putting on my arm? What's iodine for? Oh, there's the needle. That doesn't look happy. Ok, I won't look. Ahhhh.....hhhh... Oh, it's in. I made it. I'm ok. No, I'd rather not look at it. Well, no you don't need to put gauze over it. That would make me a sissy. I'll look. Oh, look! There's a needle sticking in my arm! How about that! I need to pump my fist? It still feels like a bee is stinging me. Ah, that's better. Hm. I don't really care to watch Yes Man. But I'll watch it to stay distracted.

After almost an hour, the girl on the other caddy corner side of me said that she felt light-headed. Two nurses elevated her feet, put ice packs on her, and fanned her with a manila folder. Hm. I'm glad that's not happening to me. Well, I guess my head does feel a little funny... But I don't want to freak out just because that girl's freaking out. Hum. Nope, I'm pretty sure my mind isn't just making this up. I'm definitely feeling weird. Ohhh...

At this point, I yell out... something. I probably said, "I feel pretty weird!" I can't remember. I do remember staring at the white clock on the white wall and seeing black spots coming into my vision. Two nurses rush to me. The put an ice pack on my chest and on the back of my neck. They elevate my feet, and they fan me with a manila folder. The black spots became more numerous, and everything became mottled. I began to feel nauseated and disgusting. The nurses spoke to me, I think, but my mind sank into my head, and I heard them as if I was deep inside a hole. I wanted to throw up. I leaned back and closed my eyes. The nurses were fiddling with the tubes still in my arm. One of them had a trash can nearby. She told me, "Open your eyes. Stay with us." No, I didn't want to stay with them. I wanted it to be over. I wanted to feel better. "Make it stop," I said. I opened my eyes, and the nurse said, "Some color's coming back to your face." Great. I feel miserable.

The nurses changed something with the tubes in my arm so that they would stop taking my plasma and would instead put saline into my system. They had told me before that the saline would be very, very cold. I had left my jacket in the car, but my companion, Aaron, had a sweatshirt. Earlier, when he had finished, he was walking past me. I had asked him if I could borrow his sweatshirt. He let me use it, and I laid it over myself while I was watching Yes Man. When they nurses first put the ice packs on me, I felt very warm, and I asked them to remove the sweatshirt. Now that the saline was seeping into my veins, I began to feel absolutely frigid. So there I was, nauseated, light-headed, wanting to be unconscious, and seriously freezing.

I'm coming to, the black spots are gone, and I can hear things ok again. The nurses start to leave me to myself. One takes the needle out of my arm and gives me some gauze to stop the bleeding. I just lay there. Another gives me some Hi-C to drink, because the sugar will help my new headache go away.

So I get better. We leave the center. We get dinner at Chick-Fil-A. I got a peppermint chocolate milkshake. I reasoned, a little more sugar won't hurt, and, I kinda earned it, didn't I?

I took it easy for the rest of the evening, and all is now well. So! I almost passed out! I'd never done that before! Ta da!

The End.

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