Friday, June 26, 2009

Dear Charlie:

So I have a lot of nicknames. Some are funny. Some are sentimental. Some are just plain dumb.

One is...odd.

I donate plasma twice a week at BioLife Plasma Services. I've been donating for over two years now, seeing phlebotomists come and go, getting to know the phlebs who stick around, even buddying up with some of the regular donors who go at the same time as I do. Remember Tim?

Turning Japanese, my ass. Hn.

Anyway, it's always kind of like Norm on Cheers when I come in, but for the last probably six months, the greeting hasn't been "Mols!" so much as..."JuJu!"

Like bad JuJu.

Go figure.

See, I don't usually have problems donating. "Problems" with donating can range from irritating to fairly severe. The most common is a bad reaction to the solutions which causes nausea, dizziness, etc., even up to passing out. It's usually caught before it gets serious and is over quickly enough, but definitely disconcerting.

Other problems are hematomas (painful, and they can keep you from donating for weeks at a time), cell loss (if something goes wrong with the machine's tube set and they can't return your red blood cells, you can be excluded from donating for eight weeks straight), discomfort and bruising at the puncture site, etc. Sometimes, they might have to adjust the stick if your pressures drop or your vein is spasming. Other times, they might have to switch from one arm to the other to make sure you get your red cells back and prevent that daunting eight-week deferral.

But I don't usually have those problems. Once in a great while, yeah, but I could count all the "serious" problems on one hand without using all the fingers, and that's not bad for twice a week for two years.

Unfortunately, it seems that, while I don't have problems, other people in whatever section I happen to be stuck

At first, it was amusing. Someone right next to me would have a reaction and throw up or overheat, and the tech would help them while joking with me that it was my fault. Then, two people would get sick. Then three people would get sick, one person would need a needle adjustment, and two more had air bubbles in the line (again, not serious because the machine shuts down and sounds an alarm; all the phleb has to do is push a button to purge the line, but the phleb does have to, ya know, be available). Always in whatever section I was in.

So one of the phlebs started calling me JuJu. It was still a joke, and very amusing, but it held the slightly uncomfortable ring of truth. And it spread.

Another phleb had several problems one evening while I was in his section. He took up the nickname, laughing all the while while he hurried to grab a trash can for this one to puke in and called for another phleb to help disconnect that one and the nurse to write up the reaction report. He took it up with a smile. And then another phleb. And another.

By now, it's almost to the point that the poor phlebs see me coming and groan, even while they're grinning and relieved that they got an easy stick in me.

Because I don't usually have problems, see?


But the real kicker is that, now, some of the regular donors are taking up the chant. Holy crap! Three of the twelve in the section I walked into tonight saw me coming and went, "Oh, man! It's JuJu, and I still have 200 to go!"


Matt, of course, laughed. He's the one who started it. Jerk. Oh, and he laughed because he was safely in another section and thus outside my karmic, chaotic influence on his donors.

Luckily, I still bring them cookies every now and then and never give them any grief, be it bad stick or bruising or lengthy donating time or set failure. These things aren't their fault, and I refuse to take any frustration I might feel out on them. They're just doing their jobs, and the vast majority of them are fun and overworked and smart and just wanting to get through the day, so why make it harder on them?

I like to think they like me because of that. But it's probably the cookies. Heh.

Anyway, in my hour-long stay in the blue/yellow section tonight, there was one restick (switch from one arm to the other), four separate air bubbles on two separate people, a SPE-only (quarterly blood test to make sure your protein levels and such are still healthy) that needed to be restuck because the tiny little disposable needle used for that procedure was mysteriously clogged, a machine quirk that required a donor be disconnected immediately with a cell loss and a no-take (when you donate less than 100ml of plasma), and two tube sets that absolutely refused to pass and had to be thrown away.

That's a bit much, even for me. My JuJu was in full swing, man.

However, it's still pretty funny. If nothing else, it gives the phlebs someone to blame when everything seems to be going wrong, and it has the added benefit of making a joke out of the whole mess. They need that, I think. It's a lot of responsibility, stabbing a needle into someone over and over all day without screwing up once in a while, knowing that every screw-up will either hurt someone or cost your company a no-take (which doesn't come out of your pay but is definitely recorded on your record).

And yet, they're still friendly, still willing to joke and talk about movies and show you pictures of their kids or look at pictures of yours. They still greet their regulars by name (though they require the full name and last four digits of your social security number, whether they "know" you or not, before they'll stick you) and remember preferences and the best places to stick this arm or that arm. They're friendly, but professional. They're good people.

And I'm all their bad JuJu. *snerk*

I've been called worse.


At 10:08 PM, Blogger Bulma16 said...

You weren't, perchance, in San Antonio in 2004 were you Juju? Because that's the last time I gave blood and it's also the only time I wound up passing out >.<

At 10:37 PM, Blogger GutterBall said...

No, but I was there in 1995 for like a week. Probably just took that long for my malignant karma to reach full potentency.

Sorry. *shrug*


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