Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pig Iron

I went to the Infusion Center a couple of days ago and gave my bi-monthly pint. Prior to doing so, I called up the International Red Cross to see how their movement toward allowing hemochromatosis patients to give blood for public use. For those of you who have been following my adventures with this unexpectedly unrare disorder, I had called them once before about this matter because I thought that $107.00 per pop was just a little too much to pay in order to share my lovely B+ blood with the land fill. I called the local office; the Donor Acceptability Department. I was greeted by a somewhat familiar voice.

"Hello, Mr. Beeblebrox. What may I do for you?"

"How did you know it was me?" I asked.

"Caller I.D.. I find it is a lot more personal if I greet our patrons by their names. Is there something I can do for you."

"I was hoping that I could do something for you. I am wondering if you have changed your policy on the donation of iron-overloaded blood. I understood that the policy was supposed to change in this region after the first of the year."

"Oh! I don't know. This is just the Donor Acceptability Department. I will have to put you in touch with the Donor Acceptability Department in Boise, Idaho. Can you hold?"

Before I could ask the obvious question, I was put on hold. A few seconds later, another voice (I say another voice, but it sounded surprisingly the same as the one that I had just been speaking with, whom I thought hailed from Provo, Utah) picked up the line and sweetly said,"Hello, Mr. Beeblebrox. What may I do for you?"

I replied: "I was hoping that I could do something for you. I am wondering if you have changed your policy on the donation of iron-overloaded blood. I understood that the policy was supposed to change in this region after the first of the year." I have to do these repetitions frequently as I move up the information ladder. Someday I am doing to figure out a way to scissors-and-paste my voice.

"Hmmmm! I don't know. Let me check with my supervisor. Can you hold?"

At what point does anyone know anything about who qualifies as an acceptable donor of blood? Eventually, the girl came back on line. "Well, Zaphod (I began to wonder if I had called them more than once), it appears that the policy has not changed. You will still have to go to the Infusion Center to do your duty to yourself and your sister. Bye-bye now."

Somewhat dazed at the exchange, I found the number of the Infusion Center and asked to set up an appointment. The person at the other end of the line said, "Hello, Mr. Beeblebrox. What may I do for you?" I was certain that this was the third time I had spoken to the same person.

"I would like to come down as soon as possible and have a phlebotomy. I have a standing order from my doctor."

"Yes, yes, we know, but we are really busy this morning. There have been a goodly number of people who have fallen off the wagon over the holidays. Could you come sometime after 2:00 this afternoon?"

I said that I could and would. As it turned out, Trillium and I went up to see T-ma about 1:00 or so to see how she was getting along with the staff, and how many times she had hit any of the therapists there with it. All of this progressed, the drive to and fro, from home to The Shire, to the Infusion Center, and back home in one of the worst snow storms in Utah history. Our stay at The Shire was short, but we had time to play one game of Phase 10 before moseying off to Provo. I am a little dim about who won. I think that T-ma did; by one card. I faded fast once she began swinging her cane at me. (Now no hasty chastisement here; you all know that this scene was fabricated for artistic effect. My mother-in-law and I get along just fine.)

At the Infusion Center, I signed in once again in some detail. If one does not show up at their place more frequently than once a month, then all of the paperwork has to be done all over again. I was taken to a cubical, very similar to all of the others in which I had been previously ensconced. While I was sitting there waiting for someone to deflate me, a very large man raced by, his hand over his face, and blood streaming down his arm. I was naturally curious. While I waited there, the same man passed by the front of my cubical several more times in the same attitude and condition. When my paperwork arrived from Registration, Nurse Chappell flounced in and began preparing me for my blood-letting. I took the opportunity to ask Majel the burning question. "Who is the fellow with the bloody nose?"

"Him? Oh, just another phlebotomy guy. I'm not sure whether he asked for a second can of root beer [this she said looking at me with a knowing eye] or whether they just had trouble finding a good enough vein in his arm to draw from."

I am not vain about my veins, but I was happy that they seemed to be cooperating that afternoon. I can't help but wonder though, how long it would take to give a pint of blood through one's nose. I went went home rejoicing in the condition of my cardio-vascular system, even though the hole in my right arm was obscenely large.

Now in another vein.

I have tried to be at least a little bit conservative in my eating habits, but there appears to be one thing that I cannot seem to do without. At some point in my childhood, I happened upon a really hot hotdog and finding no other ready condiment, merely put butter on a piece of bread and wrapped the slice around the dog. It is sort of like a "corndog", but it is more like a "wheatdog" without the stick. I love these things. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and sense no shame whatsoever. I just had one a few minutes ago, even though Trillium fixed a lovely (and supremely healthy) meal for dinner. It is an addiction.

How much life-threatening, liver-destroying, pancreas-eroding, brain-frying, heart-stopping iron is there in a "wheatdog"? Who cares?
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(I need an attitude adjustment here!)

1 comment:

Bob said...

The Canadian Blood Services allows blood from persons with hemochromatosis drawn during maintenance (as opposed to initial de-ironing) to be used in the blood supply. Hope this helps in your quest to have the Red Cross do the same in the USA.

Bob Rogers
Executive Director
Canadian Hemochromatosis Society
www.toomuchiron.ca