My bloody Valentine*


Hey, Blog. What’s up, man? You been just chillin’ here, or what?

I haven’t been into writing much about myself these days. I’m not journaling or free writing, and I’m certainly not blogging as regularly as I had been. It’s fine. My interest in purging and analyzing my thoughts is at a low right now.  I’ve had other things to do.

* – This blog title cracked me up. I’m all about puns today.

Last week I found out I was heading down the anemia road when I tried to donate blood. My hemoglobin has consistently been dropping since my first donation in July. The blood services has a cool website where you can see your own health records from each visit– everything from BMI to cholesterol. My first Hg reading was 15.9. The next, 14.3. Third time, it was down to 13.3. And then finally, last Tuesday, it dropped to 11.9.

You need to have an Hg reading of at least 12.5 to donate blood. They said I could reschedule in a couple of days, since it could change by then. So that’s what I did. In the meantime, I tried to eat more poultry and things like raisins, and cut back on calcium and added more citrus to my diet (calcium can block iron absorption, whereas citrus can help it). And, for good measure, I added iron supplements I bought in Target. I only had time to take it twice before my next appointment, but I was confident that I’d probably raised my Hg level quite a bit.

On Thursday, it was 12.6. Just enough to donate, but not anywhere near where I’d hoped it would be. I’ve since learned it takes more than a couple of days to make changes like that! Your body has to get used to it and everything.

So, I donated. It was a routine donation, until it was over and the nurse said to hold gauze on my elbow and raise my arm. I did this, and I got dizzy, lightheaded and knew I was going to pass out. I didn’t expect it at all, and there was no warning! I hadn’t even stood up yet. The nurse came rushing back over to me when she saw I was in distress, and tilted the chair back some my feet were up higher. I closed my eyes and couldn’t open them for a few moments… that must have been when I lost consciousness. It was short, but it made me feel so horrible. My hearing was all wonky and my head felt wobbly.

My blood pressure had been healthy when I came in: 128/82. But it had dropped all the way to 89/51! For the next hour, they kept me there, slowly lowering the chair, giving me Gatorade (YUCK) and putting an ice pack at the base of my skull. They took my BP several times, and it did slowly rise back up to somewhere in the 113/something range, and at last, I felt OK to drive home. Fortunately the blood bank is just two minutes away from my house.

At home, I felt like hell. A headache set in, I was dizzy again and had to lie down, I was nauseous… ugh. All night, I was shivering and sweating and generally felt sick. It stunned me that this happened. I’ve given blood three times since July (this was #4) and not once did I have a bad reaction. Not even a little lightheaded. And this time, blam. It kicked my ass.

I’ve since come to some conclusions about this. One is the most embarrassing one: I don’t think I ate enough of a dinner before my appointment. See, I’d had a very late lunch (super healthy too–salad with lots of grilled chicken) and when I finally got home, I wasn’t too hungry. So I drank a big glass of V8 juice and had a handful of cashews, followed by lots and lots of water. I felt great. But I should have known better and erred on the side of overeating that night. Duh. I haven’t admitted that part to anyone but my sister until now.

The other thing is I don’t think I should be donating every 8 weeks, like I had been. They called me to set up donation appointments after the first donation, and I’d just go “OK” and set it up. Plus, I was enjoying the rewards points I was racking up. You get points for each donation and you can redeem them for a CD or DVD, t-shirts or movie tickets. I was saving up my points for two free movie tickets. (I have now earned them, of course.)

Here’s the thing about donating blood, for me: It feels like something I really should be doing to help people, because I can do it. I know lots of people who can’t donate because of illness, medication, recent tattoos, and fear of needles. I don’t have any of the issues that would prevent me from donating. I’ve come to think of it as my contribution to human society. I do so much for animals, but I’m not as charitable when it comes to people. The whole marathon-thing made this clear as day to me, and changed my perspective. I started to really care about helping people who were ill. The blood donation, for me, is painless and quick, and I feel great about doing it.

For now, though, I am cutting back in a big way. Three times in one year is PLENTY, and way more than most people do at all. I’m going to aim for that instead of once every 8 weeks like they were asking. That’s too frequent, and I think that’s one of the reasons my hemoglobin was dropping so much. Too frequent donations is one of the causes contributing to anemia.

So, I am done for awhile now. I’m thinking maybe by the summer, I’ll consider it again. I need to be smarter and not say yes just because someone is asking me to do it. Lesson learned.

In house news, I finally finished putting my master bathroom together this past weekend. I got all the doors painted at last (4 coats of paint on each door!) and installed all the new hardware and a couple of switchplates. Then I had to clean, and MAN, did that take a long time. So much dust, dirt, dried paint splatters and general filth from moving around in the shower wearing sneakers… it took a detailed, on my hands and knees kind of cleaning session. It was painful, but it had to be done. The result was excellent, though. In the end, my bathroom came out very nice! I only have one more thing to do, and that’s get a storage tower/cabinet for the wall behind and over the toilet. But it feels so great to be finished. At last.

As for my room, well… I still have to put away all my clothes into the new furniture! What kind of moron buys new furniture and takes about a month to move clothing into said furniture? Me. And then I have to give that room a good cleaning, too, and finish decorating. That will be the fun part! Last night I hung my new white curtains (after ironing them for over an hour) and put the new duvet cover and sheets on the bed. Those two changes made a HUGE difference! Now the room is starting to look the way I’ve been wanting it to. Finally. I will take photos very soon, of course. I’m excited to show off the before and after photos of that room, for sure. It’s been a pig sty for almost three years now. Now that it’s not? PARTY!

I do still need to order and get blinds installed in the bedroom window and the kitchen window. They’re going to be at least $100-135 each, and I think I should get them professionally installed so it’s done right. I hung all the other blinds in the house, but it was very tricky given the weird metal windowframes in this house, and these blinds are longer (78 1/2 inches wide) than the others.

Then, I have to get the handyman to come out and put the chandelier on a dimmer, install some outdoor lights that are DESPERATELY needed, and possibly build a prefab metal shed for the yard. I *could* build one myself with a little help from someone to hold the frame and metal sheets still as I screw it all together, but I don’t want to. I did that already with X, and it was a suck-ass waste of a day.

The final thing is painting the damn exterior. I want to strike a deal with this guy my sister used to work with to paint the high parts of the house and fix/seal the trim, and I’ll paint the lower half of the house myself. Otherwise, it will be at least $1K to get it all done professionally. I want to get it down to about $400 or so, if it’s possible. We’ll see.

I must do my tax return!! All of this work hinges on the tax return money. I can’t wait to see what I’m getting back.

And finally, today is Valentine’s Day.

I like Valentine’s Day because of the commercial side of it! No, really. I like the pink and red stuff, the cute decorations, the hearts and flowers, vintage-looking cards… IOW, the stuff in the stores. Not necessarily the stupid stuffed animals or heart-shaped boxes of candy, and not the dozen red roses (not a roses fan), but the rest of it. The stuff you can get for yourself because it’s fun.

I have quite enjoyed the previous three Valentine’s Days I have had by myself, and I’m enjoying this one, too. When I was younger–high school, college — I bought into it and felt bad if I was single on V-day. Or if my boyfriend at the time did something lame, inadequate or just brushed over it, I would feel all let-down and disappointed.

And when I was married, I was the one who was never good enough. He’d expect flowers, too… and always outdid me with whatever we did for one another. I’d get him a card, he’d get me TWO cards, and then get annoyed at me for not getting him two cards. That kinda thing. Believe me, when the marriage finally ended, I was so relieved to be away from that kind of bullshit, it forever changed how I feel about being with a man, overall. And it’s why I don’t date, really. But yadda, yadda, you know all that already.

I feel bad for people who do take this day seriously and are alone or unhappy. I wish they could have the kind of relief and peace I feel on this day, because it’s a blessing. Plus, all the pretty stuff, all the candy, all the things you want to do… it can be yours! As Donna and Tom say on Parks & Rec, “TREAT YOURSELF!”




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