Monday, August 30, 2010

Blood: Diet tricks and tips

The girl was out. Around her, a group of the milkers were standing, trying to bring her back around.

"Can you hear me?" Sam said. "Can you tell me your name?"

The girl blinked slowly, but said nothing. Her head lolled to the side. She was pale.

Meanwhile, Annie had inflated the cuff around my bicep and was pushing the needle into my arm, at a new location, half an inch down from the purple scar in my elbow. It could be the old well is running dry or else becoming too difficult to drill.

After she was finished and was busy taping the line to my forearm, I looked up at her and nodded back to the little bit of drama taking place across the way.

"I've noticed people sometimes drift off," I said. "They come in here and go to sleep. That girl," I nodded in the direction of the unconscious woman, "is out. Is that normal?"

Meaning, is that going to happen to me eventually?

She frowned.

"You have to eat before you come in," she said. "If you don't eat, we take too many of your red blood cells. You can pass out. It's awful." Annie shivered. "Your skin turns pale and your lips get practically transparent. You get cold and sometimes when you bring them back up they start vomiting." She shook her head. "I can't take that. I saw them bring a man around one time and he threw up on the back of somebody's head. I just about lost it. I can't take that."

Annie looked at me, concerned.

"How do you feel?"

"Great," I said or as great as anybody feels when they're tethered to a machine sucking out their blood. "I had my usual oatmeal this morning --a couple packets of sugar free sweetener and some cinnamon."

She nodded. That was all fine and good.

"What about dairy?" I asked. "I heard that if you drink milk before you come in it slows down the process."

Annie laughed. She hadn't heard that.

"Just make sure you eat good before you come in." She handed me a roll of bandages. "Here, you want to squeeze that?"

I shrugged. Sure. Why not?

Actually, it helped. I finished in record time --in 42 minutes. My usual pace is 51 minutes, but they left me on the vine for a while. Other people were getting hooked up and pulled off --and the passed out girl was still only about halfway conscious.

Finally, one of the other milkers, Greta, pulled me loose. She was pissed.

"How long you been waiting?"

"A couple of minutes." Not too long. I wasn't concerned.

"A couple of minutes too long. Disconnects are first," she said. "We do those before we put anybody else on."

She had me loose in a second, then reminded me to eat a good meal after I got home. She held the bottle of plasma up and added, "But lay off the red meat."

"You can tell what I've been eating by how that stuff looks?"

She smiled. Yes, she could, actually.

"There's a little bit of red in this," she explained. "That's extra protein. You could cut back."

1 comment:

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