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NEVER TOO OLD
2 February 2013
You are never too old to learn something new, they say. I've been giving blood since Walt and I were first married, yet today I learned something I never knew before.
I got all dressed in red, since this is Wear Red Day, celebrating women's heart health. I figured that it was appropriate to go and give blood wearing red.
I arrived at BloodSource a little early, so settled in to wait my turn. The receptionist, seeing my red jacket and red shirt asked if I was a 49er fan. I told her that this was "wear red day," but we did talk about the SuperBowl and our mutual support of the 49ers.
Eventually, however, she had other things to do so I took out my Kindle and settled in to read "My Antonia," our next book club selection.
Right away, my cough kicked in. (My doctor is going to change my cardiac medication to something that won't make me cough, but she wants to see me first, and I haven't made an appointment yet.) I figured people at BloodSource weren't going to be happy to hear me coughing away like a TB patient, so I popped a cough lozenge. Those sugar-free Ricola cough drops that Cindy gave me are really good, and every effective. My cough stopped almost immediately.
In short order, the nurse called my name and I sat down for the usual interview. She looked at me and asked if I were eating candy or chewing gum. I told her about the lozenge. She told me that I would have to wait 15 minutes, after finishing the lozenge, before she could take my temperature, since sucking on something could raise your body temperature a bit. In more than 40 years I had never heard that before. I threw away the lozenge and by the time I had finished the paper work, had my hemaglobin checked (it was OK this time) and blood pressure checked (wonderfully low...as was my pulse, which has been a problem at Kaiser in the past).
She eventually took me to the blood-letting chair and kept an eye on the clock. She literally counted down the last 10 seconds to 15 minutes so she could take my temperature, which was normal, of course.
Then there was the search for the perfect vein. The vein in my right arm has been Old Faithful for more than 40 years, but the last 3 times it has caused problems and they decided they wanted to use the left arm this time. Only the vein in the left arm is more difficult to find. The nurse must have spent 10 minutes checking both arms trying to find out where she wanted to plunge the needle.
She finally marked a vein in my left arm with marking pen and then, when she went to sterilize the area by rubbing it with alcohol for a minute, the whole inside of my arm turned purple from her rubbing out the marks.
But ultimately the needle went right into the vein. Only it wasn't that easy. It bubbled nice red blood immediately, but then wouldn't start down the tube to the collecting bag. She moved it a bit and it did finally start flowing, but then stopped again twice. But finally it started behaving itself and in short order I had finished filling my bag.
I love it that they send you to the snack table and encourage you to eat. I do miss the days of fresh donuts, but they have a nice supply of snacks and I sat there eating Ritz peanut butter crackers and reading someone's old copy of "Southern Living," a magazine with which I cannot identify at all. Except for the recipes for gooey comfort foods, of course.
I drove to Trader Joe's after giving blood. I'm learning to like this rental Ford that we have. The iPod goes inside the console in between the front seats, so when I get to my destination I don't have to unplug it and take it with me. It's nicely hidden away.
The afternoon was a quiet one, but I sat here getting more and more sleepy, so ultimately gave in and took a nap.
Dontcha hate it when you are deeply, deeply asleep and the phone rings? I was so deeply asleep that I made the decision not to answer the phone (turns out it was from Emily's List, I learned later) and was halfway to getting back to sleep again when the phone rang again. I finally struggled to my feet and answered it without checking the caller ID--it was the San Francisco Symphony, and I hung up on them.
But the damage was done and I was awake now, though groggy for a good half hour or more before I had rebooted all of my systems.
All in all, it wasn't a necessarily a great day...just what happened.
But at least I learned not to suck on a cough lozenge before donating blood again!
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