Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's about over

It's been happening a lot lately.

I go in to donate blood, they take my blood pressure, whistle, and either thereupon wink, take my b/p manually ten minutes later and take my blood, or they take my b/p again ten minutes later as a courtesy and immediately usher me out the door. Depends on which Nurse Ratched is running the donation center that day.

Today the machine read 182/106. I knew that wasn't going to fly. The head nurse was perplexed though. She said, "I don't think the machine is reading right. It has your pulse too low. I don't think it got your pulse."

She said she'd take my b/p "manually" in ten minutes and I thought I was going to get a pass and be able to donate. You know, maybe a b/p of 160/99. The lower number cutoff, I have learned, is 100. So the second time, manually, it often comes in at 99. Amazing.

But this Nurse Ratched lied. She sent another nurse over in ten minutes to hook me up to the machine again.

I asked her if she had had a nice New Year's. "No," she said. I guess I looked crestfallen because then she offered that her favorite Uncle had died that day, of a massive heart attack. At age 37. Oh.

I don't think my numbers changed. This nurse was also curious about my anomalous pulse reading. She asked if I "bothered" to exercise.

"Sure," I said, miffed that I don't look buff. "I run 30 miles a week."

"Oh, I see. That explains your very low pulse. What's going on in the rest of your life?" She meant my sky-high b/p.

"You get divorced and see what happens to you," I said a little defensively. That's the two-second version of a four-hour epic.

"Haven't been there but I hear ya," she said as she showed me the door. I assured her on my way out that her chances of "being there" were one in two.

I think my silly, compulsive goal of donating blood 100 times is about over, stalled at 77. This is about the twelfth consecutive time that I have had a troublesome reading, and I've actually been declined about three of the last five times. It's not worth the gas to go to the blood center every eight weeks anymore. Looking around the center, you'd think they need the business though. All I saw in there this morning donating were a few old men. Nobody else is eligible, I guess. The list of exclusions is vast and daunting. And if they come up with anything that you have, they report you to the health department. Good luck getting health insurance ever again in our wonderful society then, Mr. or Ms. Good Samaritan.

Oh yeah, I'm on medication for it. Been on different meds for it for a few years now. But you know, every mediation has a side effect. That's a whole 'nother story. The current witches' brew gives me a dry rasping cough that bedevils me in racing. You can hear me a long way off in races. It really bothers me. The last mixture had a completely different, but worse, side effect.

I left the blood center feeling furtive, like I'd done something wrong. So it goes.


Kelly said...

That's a lofty goal, but a very noble one!
I have to admit that the only time I give blood is when it's for medical purposes, and then the nurses usually have to hold me down and give me an oxygen mask until I stop sobbing.

Anne said...

I was a regular donor for years but the scar tissue and "track marks" made me want to take a break. I commend you for your 77 pints. That's an impressive contribution to the human race!

Mike Fox said...

Wow! 77 pints is amazing! I believe I'm up to 14. I was a regular donor over the past two years (I got my "Champions For Life" last year), however, my schedule - running, work and kids - all got in the way since I was scheduled to hit the blood bank in September. I was hoping to get back this week or next week.

I've also been contemplating doing a Platelets donation to see if it would impact my running less. The whole blood donations seems to make my HR during my runs skyrocket for about a week after the donation and it takes me a good three weeks to get back to "normal". Unfortunately, the Platelets donations takes more time (there's that schedule thing again) and is at a donation center further away.

Anyhow, I hope you can control the high BP for a multitude of reasons (giving blood being one of them of course...)

Susan said...

Well... you tried!

NC Kate said...

Hi Peter - I've been lurking around here for several months now. Just wanted to submit that I've been turned away by the Red Cross several times for having low iron, and I always have that scarlet letter feeling on the way out! It makes me want to tell all the other donors that I really don't have AIDS or any of the many other disqualifying maladies!

Joe the Novelist said...

My disqualification has been that I've travelled outside the U.S. So, I've given up trying to donate blood.

Just_because_today said...

when I was very young and stupid (now I am just NOT young)I tried to donate without knowing anything about anything. I kind of forgot to mention that I had hepatitis so when they heard the H word, they rushed me out the door, told me never come back and sent me a letter home just in case I didn't understand the verbal warning.
I really enjoyed your post! good writing to read early in the morning

Don said...

Wow I'm a little concerned about your BP. Huh.

Mine is marginally high ( e.g.140/82) when I visit the oncologist. So at her suggestion I bought an inexpensive meter and do my own BP measurements at home from time to time. Those numbers are almost always lower than the ones in the oncologist's office (no one is surprised at that!).

I wonder if you have your own cuff and if you do get lower numbers sitting at your own desk.


P.S. I'm a 2-gallon donor but now they definitely don't want my blood because of the cancer.

Sunshine said...

A couple of Google ideas...
(1)"Naturopathic - high blood pressure" ... for ideas for you to try.

(2) "American Association of Naturopathic Physicians" ... for a list of naturopathic doctors in the DC area. A visit to one would likely be informative.

Congratulations on all the blood donations. Hoping you can adjust the high blood pressure ... to keep on giving blood ... and to keep on being alive!!

Running must be beneficial! Best wishes.

skoshi said...

Hi Peter,
Been out of town and just catching up. Wanted to wish you all the best for a happy 2009.
BTW, I can't donate blood--I don't weigh enough. I'm actually a solid build and "overweight" according to the MD scale, but at 4'10" just don't have the poundage...

DawnB said...

77, outstanding!!

ShirleyPerly said...

Well, it sounds to me that you've done all you can and then some. Kudos to you for trying. I also like that new header photo you've got on your blog!