Friday, November 20, 2009

A Date With The Vampires

I walked into the room, which wasn’t dark at all. You’d think the vampires would be skittish about sunlight and such. You see this in the movies all the time. Where else are you going to learn about vampire lore beside the movies? Of course, there’s always Brahm Stoker’s Dracula. That’s more about a single vampire and could hardly be considered a complete definitive work as it is focused on a single Romanian vampire. So, we turn to the movies. Oh, and the internet because the internet is always so full of truth. There we find that a vampire is thus confined to the world of the night and must refrain from even entering sunlight. Just a side note: the best vampire movie out there is Vampires, starring James Woods, although it is less a horror flick and more a western gone terribly bad.

Anyway, I walk into the room full of vampires and their prey ready to do my part. It’s a vile scene indeed. On one side of the room are interview rooms; the other has a table full of snacks. I’m sure the vampires realize how difficult it would be to lure willing participants without the benefit of food. Besides, after losing a pint of blood, some people are a little woozy and need a bit of a pick-me-up before they go back to the bustle and hustle of life. The center of the room has a few beds organized so a single vampire can multi-task, focusing on two donors at a time. This is all about efficiency. People aren’t going to wait around all day just to give some stranger their blood.

Today, I notice some newer devices. Apheresis machines. I’ve been hooked up to one of these before. The process then was for platelets, which took about 2 hours. The vampires that day were thrilled to get just a portion of my blood rather than the normal whole blood.

I was invited into the interview room. No, this was not your typical Interview with a Vampire – Tom Cruise was not in attendance. I guess the world has come to a point where even the vampires are a bit picky about from whom they choose to draw blood. The movies seem to make you think just any warm body will do. Here, however, they’ll take a sample of your blood, your temperature and blood pressure then ask a lot of questions about where you’ve been and with whom you visited those places. A lot of personal questions, too. In previous interviews, there was an interviewer asking the questions. Anymore, they set you up on a computer and have you take the interview. It’s not unlike those Facebook quizzes the kids are all doing these days. Of course, the questions and the resulting conclusion have a little more correlation than those online quizzes.

I guess I passed the quiz because the interviewing vampire asked if I had ever done the apheresis machine. I told her that my experience was limited to platelets. She explained that the purpose would be to draw out red blood cells but like my previous experience the rest of the blood would be returned to my body. Of course, they’d take twice the red blood cells than they would have if they were to take a pint of whole blood. I accept the offer. You’d think the hypnotic ability of the vampires would be a little more devious. Here I am willingly giving up my vitality. You can only give whole blood once every eight weeks. Doing it this way that period is extended by double to sixteen weeks. They can’t take more because it takes that long for your body to replenish what they’ve taken.

Anyway, the machines were busy with other victims, er, donors. So, the vampire suggested I move directly to the snack table to wait for my turn. Whoa, cookies! The point wasn’t about fattening me up, was it?

When my turn came, I was ushered to an empty couch where I lied down. Another interview, though shorter, began. These vampires were all about education, it seems. After declining the opportunity to ask any more questions, the bloodletting began. Just in case there was to be blood splatter, the vampire grabbed a face shield. Blood splatter? Well, I guess the movies can’t all be wrong, can they? To my great relief, there wasn’t any blood splatter at all. I’m sure there were some who would have enjoyed the spectacle but I’m a little squeamish about my blood splattering anywhere.

The machine started drawing out my blood. There wasn’t any pain, I could hardly tell much was going on at all. When the red blood cells were removed from the blood, it was returned to me. That’s when I could feel something but not at the needle site. My lips started tingling a little. The vampire probably thought this was happening so she asked about it. A strange sensation, I didn’t know what to make of it. But as the machine started drawing out whole blood again, the sensation went away. The process repeated itself four times. Then, I was done. More Snacks! I got a T-Shirt for my efforts too.

Anyway, the vampires aren’t taking the blood for themselves. That’s another movie myth. The story here is that the blood is used to help others who need the blood for some reason. Accidents, surgeries and other ailments will sometimes leave people in a place where their bodies need the blood. An act of service unlike most other opportunities, the chance to donate blood is probably one of the more selfless deeds a person can do. You know what? The vampires are very nice, too. Besides, they feed you snacks.

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