Every stay-at-home mom should consider platelet donation.
I’m not saying that other people shouldn’t. I’m just saying that this particular service is tailor-made for those whose primary work is raising small children.
Picture this: You get up Saturday morning, get some breakfast, take a shower. Help out a little with the kids. Maybe mark something off your list. Then you glance at the clock and say “Well, I’d better go!” And your husband, baby in arms, says “See you later!”
You’re off to spend about three hours on your own. Granted, nearly an hour of that is in the car, but how often do you get to drive by yourself anyway? Three hours. And the cause is such a worthy one that, not only is your husband cheerfully taking on the household (which he would probably do anyway, because that’s just the kind of sweet man he is), but even you yourself feel no nagging sense of guilt at skipping out for that long.
And what are you going to do for that time? (Other than drive, of course.) Work your tail off? Another dose of the same time-management, get-it-done stuff that you do at home all day, just for a different cause?
Nope. You’re going to read a novel.
There’s always a catch, of course. And in this case the catch is that you’ll only have one hand free (but hey, that’s normal life with a baby in the house, right?) because the other arm will have a needle in it (ok, not as normal). And as fair warning, not everyone can donate platelets. Some people just don’t have the right veins. My husband is one such, actually — he can donate blood just fine, but the platelet thing doesn’t work for him.
I admit that the needle thing is a bit of a barrier to some people. Heck, I’ve done this a bunch of times, and it’s still a bit of a barrier to me. This last time I entertained a brief fantasy of my iron being too low to donate. Would I head home immediately, like a good mother? Or would I take a little side trip? Gee honey, I was all the way across town already, and I’ve really been needing to go to the fabric store. For an hour. The stop at Godiva Chocolates, though… that was just for fun.
But even with the needle, it’s so worth it. For about an hour and a half, you’ll sit in a semi-reclined, comfy chair, snuggled under blankets, with absolutely nothing you can do except read. Or, if you want, watch a movie. Most people do the latter, actually. I just can’t pass up that much reading time.
If you’re interested, I’ll pass along a few tips to make the experience smoother for you. Not the ones that the Red Cross gives out — they’ll tell you to drink plenty of fluids, no aspirin in the 48 hours before donation, etc. And those are important. But here are some things I’ve learned myself from my years (yes, years now!) of experience.
Don’t forget to pee. This is important. If you’ve been following the Red Cross tips, you’ll have been drinking plenty of liquids. And you’ll be distracted when you come out of the initial exam, where you got your finger pricked and were asked questions about whether you’ve had sex with prostitutes in the last 12 months. You’ll still be wondering what the heck Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is. But do a quick internal check, because once you sit down in that chair, you’ll be there a while.
Choose your entertainment wisely. Distraction is the name of the game here. If you’re picking a movie, pick something that you know will carry you away, preferably on the light-hearted side. (They’ll let you finish the movie even if your donation finishes first.) If you’re taking books, take at least two, one of which should be total brain-candy — the kind of book that absolutely engrosses you. A book that you would have read straight through until two in the morning, back in those long-ago days before children when the consequences for such irresponsible behavior were pretty minor. On a related note:
Don’t take a book on a medical topic. For example, say you’ve been meaning to finish that book on childhood vaccinations, because you’re still struggling with all the “he-said, she-said” stuff surrounding that issue, and agonizing over what the right thing is for your children. The platelet donation is not the right time for it. You don’t want to be pinned in a chair for over an hour, with a needle in your arm (did I mention that bit?), reading about all of the horrible diseases that your children might get, or the various reactions to vaccines they might have. Trust me on this one.
Ask for what you need. Think of it like a somewhat bizarre kind of spa. They want you to be comfortable, because they want you to come back. If your wrist isn’t happy, the attendant will gladly take thirty seconds to get a pillow for it. Similarly, don’t be shy about keeping your temperature good. They’ll tuck you in with blankets and a heating pad, because warmth helps the donation process. Most of the time they’re good about the setup, but one time I had an attendant crank the heating pad up a notch midway through my donation. “Let’s just get you nice and warm,” she said, and then drifted off. Within minutes I was getting sweaty and slightly nauseated, and all of the things which had been possible to ignore until then — the arm held still, the smell of hospital, the taste of the calcium tablets I’d taken — were very front and center. It probably didn’t help that this was the same trip where I was reading the vaccination book. Don’t be shy about asking for what will make you comfortable.
Walk out feeling great. You just watched a movie or read a romance novel and at the same time made a huge difference in someone’s life. At the very least you eased someone’s suffering, someone going through chemotherapy or an organ transplant. You may have flat-out saved someone’s life. So get yourself a cup of water and some raisins from the snack table. They’re not Godiva chocolates, but they’re still pretty good.