Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Medical Probability Is Not My Friend

This past weekend I had an appointment to donate blood platelets in honor of poor Dink. I donate blood as often as my guilt catches up with me so I'm okay with needles and seeing my own blood. I'm O+ so I'm a trooper.

I got the straight dope on platelet donation from Sarah so I wasn't nervous. The nurse lady who walked me through the questionnaire and took my stats was really nice. I pointed out my favorite bulging blue vein but apparently it was too squishy so I would need a double needle. Left arm intake, right arm outtake. The set-up is really nice. You get a comfy heated chair and your own movie to watch. I chose "Iron Man". The day before, I tried to drink a lot of milk to help my platelets but I still had to chew tums to boost my calcium. They used a pretty thick needle (14 gauge). The intake arm was getting a mix of blood thinner citrate and my outtake arm was blood - which is fed into a machine to sort out the platelets. My left arm would receive my own blood back into me eventually.

It was going fine for a while but I got the lip tingles so they gave me more tums and dialed down my machine. My stomach started feeling really awful but I ignored it figuring that it was a reaction to the tums. More lip tingling and another dial down within an hour. Then I started feeling REALLY awful and nauseous so I flagged over the nurses. They turned off the machine, got my feet up and pumped my blood back into me. It turns out the citrate blood thinner doesn't agree with me. I had to spend another hour to recover enough to drive and at home I camped out on the sofa feeling gross for the rest of the day. My teeth were aching all night. On the up side, they did get some (not a lot) platelets!

I decided to read up on this citrate BS. I have been on blood thinners before so I know I could tolerate them. It turns out about 1% of platelet donors have a bad reaction to this stuff. But my goodness, my reaction was a cake walk compared to some of the reactions I read about - seizures and muscle rigidity. I started thinking about me and medical probability. I was one of the 30% of the population who had a patent foramen ovale. I was one of the small percentage of women who had a stroke while on birth control pills. I bet I'll wind up one of the 3% of women who get pregnant using condoms. But on the up side, I kicked medical probability's ass by surviving my stroke and recovering so well.

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