Friday, June 12, 2009


I felt a need to record the events of my day today, mostly because I did something I have never done before. I donated platelets. If I don't write about it, I may just forget about it. I do that sometimes. I seldom do anything without questioning what it is all about. I had meant to research this process before I did it, but didn't. My husband had donated before and he said he remembered feeling tingly, and it took a lot longer than donating blood. I just thought I should try it because it sounded like something that cancer and burn patients really need a lot of, and they told me on the phone there is a shortage of platelets. Having had 5 stomach surgeries, I feel I do need to do my share in donating blood or whatever else I am able to do to help someone. I needed a lot of blood during my last surgery.
I arrived there a little early hoping to get the whole thing in motion as quickly as possible because they said it could take up to 2 hours plus the pre-screening. The pre-screening was a little interesting in that I don't remember ever having these questions asked when I had donated blood before. It seems they are very serious about whether or not you have been to England recently. I wondered why??? Is there something going on there that I don't know about. Many countries were on this list, but they seemed to pay more attention to England, Canada and Africa. I wanted to ask why but the nurse I had wasn't much into chit chat. I always ask lots of dumb questions in situations like these. I figure why stay stupid if you can just ask the question and get an answer. After awhile the nurse started warming up to me a little and attempted short sentence replies to my one-sided conversations. The machine kept beeping and the chatty nurse had to keep coming over and pressing a button. I asked her if I was doing something wrong. She said "No" and walked away. This went on for an hour. The machine kept saying ...The patient is not flexing hard enough or there is a line that needs adjusting, or something on those lines. Each time I asked her "You sure I am not doing anything wrong?" Each time the answer was the same. "No."
On the telephone they tell you to not take any aspirin or any blood thinning medications, and to eat well and make sure you have plenty of fluids. I followed all of those simple rules but still had some problems during the last 20 minutes of the procedure. I started feeling very faint and sick, and wondered if I would be able to make it. I was counting the minutes until the whole process was over. Finally, it was finished. I had completed my platelet donation. But I felt like I was... " am not feeling well"....I told the nurse. She said, "Cover your mouth and cough". " Waahhh...whaaaa," said the wimpy donor. "I don't feel like fake coughing..." She jostled me and roughed me up a little. "I SAID COUGH....YOU WIMP!!!" finally managed. My fingers were numb, my head was spinning, I felt hot and cold at the same time and NOW she wants to talk about something on the television that I hadn't been watching anyway, because she told me to watch the machine screen and do what it said!!!! "I don't know what they are talking about on the TV mam....I don't feel well." "You want some water or something?" she she whispered (wimpy old woman...under her breath). "Yes.... please" said the helpless donor. She brings me a bottled water and I can barely hold my head up to take a drink. My hand was numb and I spilled the water all over myself. I did manage to get a gulp of it though. I was getting desperate to feel better so I could get the hell out of there. She put my walking papers on my stomach and said, "Rest as long as you feel you need to." After what seemed like forever I got up and started walking towards the door. A new nurse came on duty and saw me and said, "You are not going anywhere. Your lips are blue and you have no color. Go sit over there until you look better." Every so often a woman came over to check on me that had a very strange sense of humor. She said weird things like "You can't get behind the wheel like this because those chase scenes you see in movies are not real cars and real people. They are remote controlled cars with computerized looking people." I just looked at her with a blank look and said. "Right." Later she came back and said, "Some people think they can just bolt out of here and then fall flat on their face, and make a mess out there." "Okay, miss, I'll stay put." She put me on a lawn chair that reclined and put a cardboard partition in front of me , so other people passing by wouldn't be turned off by the weakling.
Finally I felt well enough to leave, and they gave me this sticker to put on myself, and asked me never to come back.
Most of this is pure fiction or just the view from my light headed visions.


Poetikat said...

Ooookaaay! So. Thanks for that. I won't be rushing out to donate. I am THE BIGGEST CHICKEN when it comes to needles. (I know. Really bad, huh?)

Was the "England" part made up?


Brenda said...

This was an attempt on my part to do some creative writing..ha! The part about asking if you have been to the other countries was true. Especially England..there was a special part just for England. ???? Did not understand why, and I really didn't get any info out of chatty.

Brenda said...

Can I donate if I have traveled to other countries?
There is a slight risk of exposure to infectious agents outside the United States (US) that could cause serious disease. Donor deferral criteria for travel outside the US are designed to prevent the transmission of three specific organisms from donor to recipient:

* Malaria. Malaria is a parasite that can be transmitted from mosquitoes to humans. It is found in several hundred countries, and is one of the leading causes of death from infectious diseases world-wide. Donors who have traveled to areas listed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as malarial risk areas are deferred for 1 year after their travel ends.
* Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). BSE is commonly referred to as "Mad Cow disease" and is caused by an abnormal, transmissible protein called a prion. In the 1990s, the United Kingdom experienced an epidemic of the disorder in cows, with subsequent cow-to-human transmission, presumably through the food chain. BSE-infected cattle were also detected in other countries in Western Europe. Transfusion-transmission of BSE among donor-recipient pairs has been documented in a handful of cases. Donors who have spent more than three months in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996, and donors who resided in Western Europe for greater than five years since 1980, are permanently deferred from blood donation (

I just found this and decided to paste it on here.

Rudee said...

Your a fine woman, Brenda. Thank you for donating.

Platelet pheresis is a pain in the ass. We put in a dialysis line, trudge to the blood bank to sign out umpteen bags of platelets, usually around 20 or so, then when back to the room, we sign them out to the dialysis nurse. During that procedure, vitals are taken around 850, 000 times, though really, it's only every fifteen minutes. It just seems like 850,000. It's never a one time treatment-usually requires several days of treatments. That said, it can save lives- it saved my friend's life when she developed a condition that attacked her own platelets after a minor cold like virus. So thank you for saving someone's life today-even if it felt like you almost gave your own to do so.

Giant Hugs to you. I wish they had given you a hero button...

flydragon said...

Geeze!!!! Wimpy? I think not!! Way to go hero of mine!!!

The Crusty Crone said...


Winifred said...

Well that was courageous of you Brenda.

Not sure about the problem with travelling in England recently. We aren't aware that there are any problems currently other than the hyped up Swine Flu.

I looked at our nation blood donor site. They haven't stopped people donating because they live in England. Yet!
It says that if you have had a blood transfusion since 1980 you can't donate due to the miniscule possibility of the blood being contaminated by CJD. They have no direct proof that it can be transferred but are taking this precaution.

The testing of meat in the UK as a whole is very strict, so not sure why these restrictions are still in place and why only England? What about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Strange this as I would be more concerned about people travelling in less developed countries of Asia or Latin America for example. Would we know if CJD was found there? Do they test as rigorously and would they admit to it?

Have to say that one of the advantages of not eating meat is not having to worry about this problem.

I assume for you it's the same as here where you have to be a blood donor before you can become a platelet donor. I didn't realise that not all donors of blood are suitable. You have to have a higher than average platelet count and if you have had any faintness or bruising when you donate blood you can't donate platelets.

I'm in the wimp category too, I faint when I just give blood although I'm not the fainting type normally. I'm sure they made me flex too hard and the stuff came out too fast. They kept coming and telling me to flex more often so it hardly took any time at all. Sure they just wanted to get finished and go home!

I gave up donating eventually as I used to donate at work and had to go and lie down for ages before I could drive home!

Myra said...

Oh my goodness Brenda!!! What an experience!
My hubby just started donating his platelets, but I never thought to ask him how it all went, how he felt, nothing!!! But then, he is not a talker and didn't offer anything up himself.
Hubby has donated blood about 50 times now, so I thought it was the same!!! Must ask him about the platelet experience now!

Patty said...

Well I don't think I'll be rushing out any ways soon to have that procedure. Shoot our one nurse at our family doctor can't even seem to draw blood for a test, let alone to get a bag full of platelets.

A long time ago when I asked about donating blood, they told me because of the thyroid medication I take and the blood pressure medicines, I wouldn't be a good candidate. It may have changed now, since they apparently don't take the whole blood. Now I am also taking something called Femera to stop the estrogen from going into my breast and I'm also doctoring for my thin bones. So I haven't even asked about donating blood for years now. I have the average kind of blood. Type "O"

I have had four abdominal surgeries, 2 lumpectomies one on each breast, lymph nodes removed from both arm pits and I only needed one pint of blood, that was with my first surgery at the age of 16. Had what they called a dermoid cyst attached to my ovary and tube, causing the tube to twist and it was starting to decay, so it all came out. Doctor's told my parents it would have been my twin if everything had developed properly when my Mother was pregnant. The other ovary was very strong, we had five babies with that one. Finally put it out of commission at the age of 37.

Hope you are fully recovered from donating platelets. They must somehow remove the blood different? I assumed they divided it once it was out of the patient.

Myra said...

This is your test comment, to see if your comments go directly to your email... 8-)

Renie Burghardt said...

Gee, Brenda!!! Even if I were able to donate platelets, I sure wouldn't after reading the "fiction" of your experience of donating them. But I am a diabetic, so I can't do it. As it is, I hate having blood drawn anyway, and have to do it every three months. Well, this last time I had it done, a few weeks ago, I hadn't been there for almost 6 months, and dear Doctor Tina, gave me quite a lecture! But I love her anyway.

Rudee is right, you are a hero, and in the end, it was worth the pain, I'm sure!

Have a wonderful Sunday!



PS. Youy creative writing effort gets an A from me!

Brenda said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! I think that donating platelets is not for everyone, but it is an interesting process, and if you can do this, very worthwhile.
I am still a little baffled with the questions in the pre-screening, but I know it is all for the safety of the recipients of the blood. Whatever the reasons are I am sure they are good ones. I remember the days when you just went in and gave blood, no questions asked. Now it is much safer.
I failed to mention that the reason I felt like such a wimp was because 2 other people were donating at the same time as me and they both got up immediately after they finished and walked off. I wish I could have done that!

Sandy said...

Well gee, I was relieved to find out that you are okay but your story is hilarious!! Remind me never to donate platelets....

Clifford 1994 to 2009

Clifford   1994 to 2009
The Best Dog Ever