So this one is going to be on the bizarre side. I mean more than usual. Which is saying something. It’s going to start with (no kidding) blood. Then it’s going to veer haphazardly into a Facebook posting. And, finally...finally…
I will pass along to you an absolutely lovely...I mean gorgeous!... metaphor that I’m stealing from our friend Judy Zaccaria.
But I’m going to make you wait for that lovely, lovely metaphor until the end of the essay because that’s just the kind of vicious, rotten, no-good son of a batch processor I am.
No need to thank me.
Let's start with the blood...
Okay, let’s start with the blood...
As you may know, some time back, I thought I might have had and then recovered from Covid. That meant, I hoped, that my blood would be chock-o-block full of anti-Covid antibodies, and I could it for use with patients who still have the disease. It’s called convalescent plasma therapy.
Well, didn’t work, unfortunately. But it turns out my blood type is AB+. And, further, AB+ is particularly in demand for platelet donations. Just fyi (and I mentioned this because I didn’t know), platelets are the things in the blood that clot and prevent bleeding. They are, therefore, very much in demand for people who can’t produce enough of them on their own.
So...I have been donating platelets regularly. Last time I checked, I’d been to my local blood bank six times since May. (I write this in October.)
It’s pretty much painless, by the way. I’d say that thing that hurts the most is when they prick your finger for a quick test before you actually go onto the table. The needle into the arm is barely noticeable. But that dang prick...well, ouch.
Once you are on the bed and are giving your donation, everything is pretty much on automatic. You lay there, squeezing a little rubber ball, while a small tube takes a small quantity of your blood (with platelets) away to a machine. The machine then extracts the platelets and then returns the blood to you.
The only problem with this is it takes longer than simply donating whole blood. In fact, you better plan on being there for 90 minutes to two hours.
That, in turn, means that the worst thing you have to endure is the boredom. Bring a good book or maybe two. Or, bring along a laptop and watch a movie.
Something else about platelets. If you donate whole blood, you can’t do so again for at least eight weeks. But, donating platelets doesn’t have the same impact on your system. So, you could, in theory at least, donate platelets once every seven days.
I’ve never tested that theory. I’ve not done so for the fairly good reason that each time I donate, I feel a little off afterwards. It isn’t too bad. I’m just lethargic and maybe I feel a bit sick.
Which is why I had been thinking of reducing my donations to, say, once every other month or so.
I'm such an easy mark...
Okay, so that brings me...finally...to what I wrote on Facebook about all this. Here ‘tis. Read it and weep. Or chortle. Or just stare at it blankly in dull surprise or frank amazement that (by God!) you’ve hung in there reading this essay for so long and haven’t already bailed out in frustration and/or hot tears of tedium. Whatever...anyway...here we go:
I am such an easy mark…
So, as you may know, I’ve been donating platelets at the blood bank lately. I’m AB+ and
it seems my particular ‘lets are in high demand.
But, whenever I do it, I get whacked out for the rest of the day. I basically can do
nothing but crash on the sofa and (at most) binge watch Queer Eye or Frasier re-runs.
So, swearing a mighty oath, and at the suggestion of Martha, I decided that I would
donate no more than once every other month or so. (Insert “As God Is My Witness”
Okay, and then…
They called me up and said that a child was getting a heart transplant at a local hospital
and needed platelets.
Wanna guess where I was this morning? Go on. Guess. I dare you.
Oh, well, as a father and a grandfather, I wasn’t exactly going to refuse that one, was I?
Anyway, I wrote up all the above and posted it to Facebook because I thought it was kind of funny. Well, sort of funny. Okay, as funny as I ever get without you, my dear audience, consuming large amounts of laughing gas and/or tequila. Six of one.
Seriously, I figured I’d get a few chortles from my Facebook pals out of it. But, I was very wrong. It turned out that the post was stunningly popular. I got scores of comments. And quite a few compliments...which, I’ll confess, flattered me. But, honestly, they were far too kind.
But, what the heck? I’ll take ‘em anyway.
Never turn down a compliment. They come along so rarely in this life.
Always take compliments...
But the thing that struck me the most was how many people wanted to donate as well, but didn’t know how to go about it. So, that’s what this posting is all about. Think of this as your Google map to blood donation.
It’s very easy. Just do a web search for “where can I donate blood near me?” You’ll get a bunch of options. Some of them will actually be for companies that want to pay you for your blood, and particularly for plasma. Unless you’re looking to make money with your donation, I’d suggest avoiding that option. Personally, I figure I’ll leave it for people who really need the cash...a group, unfortunately, that grows larger every day in these challenging times.
That leaves the nonprofits. The Red Cross can be helpful in this regard. Or, you can use a more local service.
My local blood bank is We Are Blood at WeAreBlood.org. It’s restricted to central Texas, but I’m sure you can find similar organizations near you.
The next thing you need to do is schedule a time and a place to donate. Oh, and one other thing: you’ll need to decide what kind of donation to make. I donate platelets, but there are other options. You can, for instance, donate “whole blood,” which is what you usually think of when you envision donating blood. It’s where you give them plasma and blood cells. Or, you can provide “double cell blood donation.” That is where you give double the red blood cells that you can get from whole blood donation, but then they return the plasma to your body.
Anyway, you can find out more about the different types of donations, and which type of donation is best for your blood type, with this handy chart provided by WeAreBlood.org: https://weareblood.org/donate-blood/types-of-donations/
It's so easy
Okay, you ask yourself, where the heck is that lovely metaphor I promised?
Get fixed...cause here it comes.
Our friend Judith Zaccaria is on Facebook, too. When she saw my posting, she responded. One of the things she said was donating blood was a “duty of love.” And then she added: “I picture you holding on to that child as she goes through her operation.”
Okay, tear up time.
What a beautiful image that is.
Wouldn’t it be beyond wonderful if we really could, somehow, be with that baby, and comfort him or her in a time of such fear and risk. Wouldn’t it be a delight...an absolute delight...if only we could have that child in our arms and take away their terror and their pain?
Wouldn’t it be glorious...sublime! ...if only we could hold every child that way? If we could assure that every child never needed to be in that hospital in the first place?
And wouldn’t it be glorious as well if somehow we could have also held and comforted that other child, the child who died, and gave a heart, so that another child might have life.
Okay, I’m crying now. I’m sorry. I’ll stop.
I'll be crying now.
But of course, it isn’t just me. It is all of us, isn’t it? It’s you. It’s Martha. It’s Judy. It’s all the other people who were giving blood or platelets that day. It is the people who contacted me after my Facebook posting because they want to donate too. It is the people who would like to donate, but can’t because of health or other reasons.
It is everyone. We are all lining up for a chance to hold that baby. Those children.
There is something truly magnificent in that.
I do have faith. I do think that someday, maybe not too far in the future, we will have the medical technology to make certain that all children live long and well, and will have no need of operations or heroic interventions. I truly believe that. But, unfortunately, that day isn’t quite here yet.
So, in the meanwhile, I will hold fast to something else. I will hold fast to the blood bank, to my option to donate (albeit a little less regularly), and most of all…
All of you out there.
Who want so badly, and with such kindness…
To be of help.
Until next time.
Onward and upward.
You are all heroes.