Thursday, March 22, 2012

Double trouble

Life is full of adventure, right? Or at least that's what I have been telling myself since yesterday. What a day! It started out innocently enough - drove daughter to school then continued into town to visit the local library, went shopping afterwards and then quickly stopped at the local blood-bank to make a donation.

WARNING: I feel I need to premise this post about the contents of visual descriptions of blood.

Dave got a call recently to donate blood plasma for the Easter period. It was his day off soon, so why not? He's donated plasma before, and I went as designated driver. In Australia we don't get paid for donating blood or related blood products (such as plasma and platelets) we do it because it saves lives. Plasma and platelets are especially useful to help in the treatment of leukemia. We have a daughter and we'd like to think others would donate blood, to save her life if needed. So Dave donates blood. I would donate, but with insulin dependent diabetes the process is a little trickier. Not impossible, just trickier. And after yesterday's fiasco at the blood bank, I don't think I'll be attempting to donate any time soon.

Have I mentioned before, that I can faint when I smell or see blood? I know it's one of the things stopping me from joining Dave when he processes our chickens. I keep telling myself, it's all in the head - just talk yourself out of fainting, LOL. Yesterday, I had no idea why it was different from the other time I was David's support person, and designated driver. Maybe it was because there were so many people in the room this time? Maybe it was because the air felt stuffy and I was wedged into a little corner beside David's bed? Maybe it was because I was at eye-level with his arm having the blood taken out?

I don't know why it happened, but about fifteen minutes into David's procedure, I started to feel faint. I got up and went into the small eating area just outside the donation room. I did a quick test and my blood-sugar readings were normal. I was probably due for something to eat, but I already had a quick snack before arriving. I thought maybe I could eat some of the jelly beans in my handbag, but for some reason my stomach was churning. I felt like throwing up. Instead of waiting for something to go wrong, I calmly walked over to the receptionist and told her I was feeling faint.

My personal glucometre - always carried in my handbag
Actual reading, when I first started to feel faint - MEM stands for memory

She ushered me over to a couch and told me to lay down, next minute I hear her shouting for a nurse. Good Lord, I felt so embarrassed - I hadn't even donated blood! They all told me I was as white as a ghost and I felt like it too. I shared how I had diabetes, did my test and all seemed fine. The nurse asked if I wanted a drink of sugared cordial. Oh yes please! She put it in a cup with a straw so I didn't have to get up from the reclining position. I made sure I told her I hadn't donated blood, that I was just there to support my husband. How embarrassing, I thought next, I came here to support Dave, not become a patient myself, LOL.

After the cordial and a slice of fruitcake which they put out for people, I was feeling a little better. It wasn't long before the nurse asked me to scoot over however, because someone who had given blood was feeling faint. They all joked I must have started a chain reaction, LOL. If I thought I felt embarrassed however, the young man now sitting next to me on the couch was a doctor! We got chatting because I think we both felt somewhat silly - after all, I was just meant to be the designated driver and he was just popping in from work at the hospital to donate blood.

Our conversation was interesting however, because he saw me do another blood test with my little glucometre. It's just a little finger prick and the tiniest bit of blood. I apologised doing the test in-front of him, because I couldn't get up from the couch - and I didn't know if he would react to seeing the blood. He replied he was fine with that sort of thing normally, he said he doesn't have any sort of problem treating people - just this time, when he was on the other end of the treatment, he admitted he was baffled. I said, I wonder if it's about control - because I'm fine doing my regular little blood tests, and giving myself multiple injections every day too. I admitted it all started to go wrong when I saw the big needle they were about to put in my husband's arm.

My personal medication I administer daily via injections

Well, it was a nice interlude while it lasted, but my cohort in embarrassing situations soon had to return to work. So I started the mental process of talking myself out of any further dizzy spells. With something to eat, I figured all would be okay now. Surely, the worst was over? I was feeling immensely better and I got up to the "regular" chairs they have for people (to eat and drink) after donating blood. I made sure to find a seat closest to where I could see Dave, but was still outside the donation room. We locked eyes again, and the look of relief on his face was obvious. Poor Dave was plugged into a plasma machine. He saw me disappear behind a partially glassed wall and saw all the nurses positioned around me. They did tell him afterwards, I was okay and they joked not to bring me in again, LOL.

So there we were, two patients: one brave and giving plasma, the other clueless to what had gone wrong. I was feeling like we were nearly at the end. I saw the nurses approach Dave, so it probably wasn't going to be long until he was unhooked from the machine. There were a few of them around him, talking and looking concerned. Then I saw him grab his arm and pull a face. He was in pain.

Good Lord, that light-headed, sick-to-the-stomach feeling came over me again! I excused myself past a nice gentleman as I made my way to the couch. I lay down, feeling woozy, hoping no-one would notice me this time. Someone called for a nurse, ah nuts - they noticed!! A completely different nurse arrived this time, she put my legs up with the aid of cushions. I had to explain once again - I hadn't donated blood, I was just the designated driver of the person who was. I couldn't believe this happened to me a SECOND time. What had gone so wrong? This was not how it was supposed to happen.

It took a little while before Dave came out of the donation room. By then, I was sitting up again. His arm was bandaged up like everyone who leaves the donation room. I asked if he was okay, but he laughed in that casual, "I'm a guy", kinda way. But that's not what his face said five-minutes ago though, LOL. I guess we were both feeling a little embarrassed.

I said it seemed like a longer session than the first time he donated blood plasma. Apparently it was too - as the pathologist which plugged him into the machine originally, hadn't put the needle in right. The procedure should've finished in 45 minutes, instead he was there for 55 minutes before the nurses cottoned on. The pathologist plugging him in, should have checked on the machine way before the others detected something was amiss.

I just wanted to put it all behind us when we drove home, however. And can you guess who drove? If you guessed Dave, you'd be right! How embarrassing, LOL. I joked to David in the car, there goes my dream for a career in pathology. I also suggested if he planned to donate in future, I probably shouldn't go with him. We agreed that would probably be best.

Although I felt incredibly embarrassed how my body conspired against me, I'm still glad I went with Dave. I'm glad I wanted to be his support person and designated driver home. I hate that I became so weak, but how was I to know until it all unfolded the way it did? And a promising young doctor is out there too, who was also baffled by his response to donating blood. I guess it takes all sorts. I'm feeling much better today.

If I had to take a guess at what happened, I think I was hyperventilating. All those little "sign-posts" which said possible danger this way (like a giant needle heading towards my husband's arm, red blood in a tube coming out his arm, other people with red blood tubes and gyrating bladders collecting the mass of blood) I think at each sign post, I kept holding a little more breath back. I may have deprived my own blood of oxygen as a result. How ironic, huh?

But yesterday wasn't all bad news. Actually, there was some great news to be had also. But I'll save that for another post. :)


  1. Oh goodness! Lol!
    That is why Jasmine fainted last summer if you recall. I thought it was seizure but it was not. I had the chance to watch a skin biopsy on Garry the other day....I didn't find it awful but something in me understood when to turn away...

    I am very curious about your news....I'm taking wild guesses....
    pathology in tbe U.S. Is the testing of tissue samples for abnormalities. I think nurses perform blood donations here....I always think it's neat to learn how things lie this are in other countries....I m becoming a medical nerd;)

  2. You know I wondered if anyone would ask if I was pregnant. Double trouble means I felt faint twice, LOL, and doesn't mean I'm expecting twins - or a baby for that matter. ;)

    Although I reckon that would be pretty cool news if I was. Not this time though.

    About the pathologist/nurse terms I've used. I may have confused them somewhat. In Australia there are independent pathology labs, which routinely take blood samples from patients. This is what I'm most familiar with, as I have an annual blood test ordered by my diabetes specialist.

    I've always considered those taking my blood samples, as related to pathology because they are working for a pathology laboratory. I've never thought to ask if they are qualified in nursing. Maybe it's a prerequisite?

    The blood bank is a hospital thing though, and may well be run by nurses. I'm not sure. But there was a distinct uniform difference. Those who were responsible for plugging people into the machinery and monitoring the machines, wore red shirts. The nurses wearing traditional white shirts were walking around, monitoring general human health.

    Certainly, when the first woman I approached about feeling faint (wearing a red shirt) called for a nurse which was wearing the white shirt - I figured those in red weren't qualified (or practicing) as one.

    Then before Dave pulled the face which made me feel woozy the second time, I noticed a nurse in a white shirt was talking with him - but she had to call someone with a red shirt over, to make sense of the machine he was plugged into.

    I just assumed they were differently qualified professionals. :)

  3. Dag habit! I thoughq babies on thecway! LOL!
    well it's blood drawing testing, we have phlebotomists to so that. that is all they so,plus standard first aid...I took that class and can draw blood. I cannot take however, putin an i.v.
    Nurses do that.
    I have never been in a blood clinic...I cannot donate but I assume their are nurse who specialize or it's a specialty all it's own....confusing stuff.....


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