Saturday, August 29, 2009


Apparently this was the 29th time I have donated blood at Bloodsource in Davis.

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It wasn't the 29th time I'd shown up to donate blood. I have lost count of the many times I have been turned away because of a low hematocrit. Each time I'd watch that little drop of blood sit, stubbornly suspended in the liquid and hear that they would have to run a sample through the centrifuge, and then half the time being told that it didn't quite make the grade. I always miss by just a point, but they send me back to try, try again. They would send me off with a package of oatmeal, and tell me to eat iron-rich foods.

Last time I donated blood, we agreed to set my next appointment two weeks past the date when I was eligible to donate again, figuring that my system needs an additional two weeks to recover.

I also helped it along this time by eating beans, spinach, and oatmeal (not together, of course) over the past week.

Well, it worked. That little drop of blood in the solution sank to the bottom immediately and stayed there and I was good to go.

I've always given blood when I could, starting back when we lived in Berkeley many years ago, before Jeri was born. I gave regularly until I tested positive for HIV. It didn't send me into any panic because I knew about false positives and, of course, a second testing came back negative. But the fact that I'd tested positive once meant I couldn't donate again for several years. I also was not permitted to donate blood for a year or two after I spent a month in Houston helping with my friend Bill, who ultimately died of AIDS, but also had Hepatitis-C.

But I haven't had any limiting factors (other than low hematocrit) for several years now and in the meantime Bloodsource opened a facility very close to our house (and recently moved it even closer to our house), so I didn't have to wait for a blood drive to park a truck somewhere in town, or drive into Sacramento to donate.

I love Bloodsource. Everybody is so friendly. I always go on a Friday morning at 9 a.m., so I watch Regis and Kelly while I'm eating my donut and drinking my water after my donation. Twice they have accidentally squirted blood on me and I got a free t-shirt and a big apology. The facility has the feel of my dentist's office (which I have always described as being like going to the hairdresser), with the casual atmosphere, the joking that goes on, and the patients, many of whom greet each other because they've run into each other here before.

I thought I would try donating platelets once because you can do that every two weeks. I wasn't sure how it all worked, but they remove your blood, strip it of the components they need, and then return it to you. The process takes about an hour (I can fill a bag of whole blood in 10 minutes), but with me they had difficulty getting the blood back in, so we decided I would just stick with whole blood instead of trying to donate platelets.

I really like donating blood. It seems such a simple thing to do, yet we are always being told that the need is great. And, besides, you get a free donut when it's all over!

fatHiggins.jpg (37968 bytes)There is no mistaking Higgins. You can find him in the dark because he's so much bigger than the other puppies. I don't worry too much about Higgins.

But I worry about the others. They are all gaining, they are having normal bodily functions, but having raised so many orphans, I know that a day can make a difference, especially at this young age. Though all four puppies ate very well for two feedings in a row (the mid-night feeding, for some reason, always seems to be the best one), where each took 1-1/2 to 2 oz of formula, when I fed them mid-day, three of them ate well, but Alfie wouldn't open his mouth and seemed a bit "floppy." He just would not wake up. I set about feeding Freddie and having Walt hold Alphie, hoping to get him to wake up. I still couldn't get him to open his mouth and when I finally managed to get it open, he wouldn't suck from the bottle. I managed to get an ounce in him with the good ol' syringe.

This is not the first time this has happened, and usually what happens is that the puppy who wouldn't eat at one feeding chows down at the next one, but not Alfie. I couldn't get him to take anything at the second feeding. I finally had to call Ashley and ask her to come and check him, while we were out reviewing a show.

When we got home, Alfie was gone. Ashley sent a note saying they had given him fluids (they inject it under his skin), but were going to take him home to the mother to see if he would do better. Keep your fingers crossed.

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