Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Pint Low

The information package they gave me to read at the blood drive yesterday said I should avoid strenuous exercise for five hours after donating. Does riding 15 miles in wind, snow and rain count?

I had never donated before. Because I planned to drive today, I wanted to ride yesterday. The forecast called for a chance of showers in the late afternoon. Chance. Showers. I have fenders. It'll be fine. So I rode to town. At noon I went to the church where the blood drawing was set up.

The screeners liked my pulse rate, blood pressure, hemoglobin level and general fitness. They raved over my large veins. Then they had trouble establishing a satisfactory flow, or so I gathered from the conversation between the phlebotomist and her supervisor as they jiggled the needle around. I wasn't watching.

"You'll feel a little poke," the technician had said. Indeed I did, followed by a strong impression that they were digging for my humerus with a hot wire.

"Keep taking deep, relaxing breaths," they told me. What else could I do? I had a mission and they'd already made the hole. After a minute or two they got things settled. I squeezed the little rubber thingie in my hand periodically to enhance the flow and wake up that hot wire sensation again.

By donating blood I not only contribute to the lifesaving stocks of blood in reserve, I also get to find out my blood type for free. I need to know my blood type as part of the compatibility criteria to see if I can throw my wife a kidney or if we need to get involved in one of those chain-reaction donations becoming popular with the live-donor set. Once it becomes totally routine, people may even do it at parties. Imagine swapping all sorts of body parts at a wild revel on a Saturday night.

"I woke up with one green eye and one blue one. Is one of them yours?"

"Yeah, the green one, but you got it all red."

You could actually have two left feet.

As a first-time donor I took seriously all the stories I'd heard about people jumping up too quickly and keeling over right afterward. I lay there a bit before walking carefully to the snack table, where I drank a pint of water and ate some excellent crunchy stuff, a small bag of raisins and a chocolate chip cookie. Then I walked back to work, where I drank more water and stuffed down lunch while I assembled a bike.

I couldn't linger at closing time because I needed to rip home to get to a zoning board meeting. It hadn't been quite five hours yet, but I had no other options.

The chance of showers had turned into dark gray skies dumping wet snowflakes into a gusty wind. At 36 degrees, nothing was sticking to the road. It would just be raw and unpleasant. And so it was.

I kept meaning to get out my camera to document how nasty it was, but I never did. Pictures can't convey the feeling of a raw wind slapping fat snowflakes in your face. They don't portray the creeping wetness, the steady chilling of arms and legs. I didn't want to change my position and give that wind another way into my collar, so I faced front and kept pushing the pedals.

The snow and rain passed to the south after ten miles or so, but the wind still cut. By the time I got home I really wanted to take a hot shower, put on comfy lounging attire and put my feet up. Instead I just had time to feed the cats, put on some dry clothing and drive off to my meeting.

Today is dry and milder but I have an evening engagement, so I did not ride. A warming trend promises improving conditions for the weekend. I'll have regenerated my blood by then, too.


Steve A said...

"avoid strenuous exercise for five hours after donating. Does riding 15 miles in wind, snow and rain count?"

No, unless you ride the last five in front of a big truck whose driver has taken an active dislike to you...

jamie said...

Reminds me of the heroic reassurances by my manly doctor that after getting HIS vasectomy he was riding his bike within hours no problem.
The same guy who also said, right before administering local anesthesia with a big needle: "now, this is gonna hurt like hell"

cafiend said...

Hours? Yow. I would not want to blow a stitch in that region.

I like the honesty about the big needle.

greatpumpkin said...

They won't let me donate. I've been to the wrong countries at the wrong times.