16 July 2008

fishing for topics

So I gave blood last month (one of those mobile blood donation clinics in a kitted-out trailer) and got a letter in the mail the other day from Mass General Hospital saying that I was part of a "special" group of people who are CMV negative. Cytomegalovirus is apparently not really risky unless you're a tiny baby or a cancer patient or otherwise immunocompromised. It's carried in bodily fluids (e.g. blood and platelets) and between 50 and 80% of the population has had it (it's just like herpes!).

The letter went on to ask me to become part of a special CMV-negative platelet donor group - the program is called Platelet Pheresis and I think I'm going to do it. Giving blood has never bothered me - I don't feel faint or grossed out and I never seem to be anemic; plus you get free cookies and orange peanut butter crackers! And I always rationalize that I've earned the cookies by giving blood and therefore they aren't fattening, they are just helping me replace the lost blood.

Apparently platelet apheresis takes about 2 1/2 hours - they take the blood out of your arm, grab the platelets from it, and return the rest to you. So you can donate every three days if you want. Not like I have that kind of time, especially given that it's about 45 minutes each way to MGH, but they do Saturday mornings once a month and I could totally manage that.

I know I use this blog to gripe a lot but I do realize that I have been super duper lucky, in my circumstances of birth and life to date. I've had all these huge advantages which in turn allowed me to land my nice well-remunerated interesting white collar job - so it would be nice to do something for someone else. Especially little babies and cancer patients! How can you not want to help them out? And I get cookies!

So that will be my high minded post for this year.


Chris said...

Cara, platelet donors are a very special bunch of people - and hey, helping cancer patients or teeny tiny babies to alleviate pain or avoid serious complications? What a deal! Plus, you usually get to watch a movie while you're sitting there, too. And cookies - woot!

Just be sure to have some extra fluids and calcium either the day before or morning of your donation (to avoid muscle cramps after donating.) You're a good egg for doing this, but we knew that already.

Cara deBeer said...

I'll make sure I drink a bunch of calcium-enriched OJ. Thanks for the tip!

seppaku said...

Wow, good on you for selflessly contributing your bodily components for the less fortunate!

I could never do that. Needles headed my way make me panicky, and my lizard brain rails against the feeling of the blood being sucked out of my veins.

When I worked at the Shitty of Hopelessness, we were all invited to have our bone marrow tested and put into a database. Thing about it was, once you had your marrow checked out you were in the database for LIFE. I couldn't imagine receiving that phone call out of the blue.

"Hi, please come in for several weeks of immunosuppressive drugs and needles in your bones! Then we'll put you under anaesthesia and split your leg bones open and harvest your marrow."

I suppose its selfish of me, but I'll try to make it up by finding a cure for cancer ASAP.

Cara deBeer said...

So I'll keep donating platelets while you figure out the cure to cancer and we'll both be doing our bit. We'll just need someone else to handle world peace.

I'm not on the bone marrow match list for the same reason - because if you ARE a match, how could you then say no?

Lucky for Zoe that needles don't bother either me or Dave, since she gets a jab every morning at 7.

seppaku said...

Oh, I have no psychosomatic issues with sticking OTHER people or things with needles!

Just none pointed my way, thanks.

My formerly mangy pit bull Jack was supposed to get a big ol' shot of Ivermectin under his skin once a day. Thing was, the Ivermectin had the viscosity of hair gel and required a huge needle with a razor-sharp spaded tip. Now, giving shots to cats is one thing - lots of excess skin and the size differential is such that you can physically overpower them - but dogs, quite another. That pit bull's hide was tough and tight, and he was a stranger to us because we had just pulled him from the city shelter. The instant that needle made contact he whipped his big-ass head around and let us know that, best intentions aside, this injection BS was not happening, not now, not ever.

Luckily I could just squirt the suspension in his food and he gobbled it right up. The interwebs said it tasted horrible, but he didn't care. Of course, this is a dog who eats turnips, spinach, cashews, etc., and who steals whole watermelons and entire bunches of bananas.

Anyway, that's me. Not a compassionate blood giver, but nevertheless always willing to babble on and on about my animals in someone else's blog comments.

Cara deBeer said...

oh yeah, I think Dvae told me you were a vet tech in a former life, so no problem with jabbing other people.

Zoe's needle is so small that sometimes she doesn't notice it going in. Lucky thing, because she is really picky about what she'll eat (unless it's human food) so the Ivermectin thing wouldn't have worked.

Turnips is a new one. Have you seen this dog + sweet potato page?

Kitt said...

Funny. I just gave blood yesterday and saw their "Ask about being a marrow donor" sign. Supposedly they can draw the cells through apharesis now.

Don't you feel special with your fancy platelets?

Debi said...

Cara, sweetie, I think this is terrific. You know I have a soft spot for all blood-donors, so this makes you extra extra-special in my book.