Tuesday, August 14, 2012
An Olympic Endeavor
If there were to be a single theme in our lives for the last two weeks it would have to be the Games of the 30th Olympiad in London. As you may recall, we actually went camping in Catoctin Mountain Park the weekend of the opening ceremonies, which in years past would have meant that we had to miss out on the first several days of coverage. This we did not do, however, thanks to our living arrangement. Not only do we get to enjoy cable access as a part of our rent agreement, but we also recently discovered that we have our own DVR, which means we can actually record basically whatever we want. So for the past two weeks we have spent nearly every night watching at least a portion of the primetime coverage of the Olympics Games. However, try as we might, we never could make up the deficit of being gone for the opening weekend. In fact, we moved the other direction and still have the entirety of the last six days left to watch! The disadvantage to this approach is that we have inevitably found out some of the results before we actually got to see the competition, but we have still enjoyed watching and now we have the advantage of being able to extend the games out over another week after they have finished for everyone else!
These last two weeks have marked a return to school for most of you whose lives revolve around the world of education. I still have a slight reprieve, with exactly two weeks remaining before my first day of class. I was able to get the reading list for my class on the American Revolution and am already feeling overwhelmed by the 14 books I will be reading over the semester. The good news is that I have been able to find every single book at either the public or school library which means that I will not have to purchase any of them for that class. I am still waiting to receive more information about the other class, but one of my coworkers actually took that same one a couple years ago and has graciously offered to let me use her books. So it is looking like my textbook bill for my second semester of grad school will not break the bank after all!
If I were to identify an additional theme of these past two weeks it would be getting things done before I am consumed by school once again. Things like a trip to walmart to restock on necessary supplies like dish detergent, garbage bags, light bulbs, and propane. Things like getting a haircut after repeatedly being told by my wife that I looked ridiculous with what was becoming rather absurdly long hair. Things like taking my truck in to get the oil changed and getting it back without them telling me about anything else that was wrong. That is a significant achievement for my truck! It doesn't mean there aren't things that could use attention, but for a change there doesn't appear to be anything pressing.
Perhaps the most interesting task that was checked off the to do list last week, though, was successfully finding a donation center and giving blood once again. I haven't done so in a year after donating half a dozen times while living and working in DC. It turns out there is a Red Cross donation center not far off my route home that is open late enough for me to go after work. So I decided I could do my part and donate blood to help meet the current shortage. Well, when I called to make an appointment they were not only excited about my willingness to donate, but also immediately began to impress upon me the great need for platelets and, as I had donated them once before (almost exactly a year previously) I was a prime candidate.
Now when I donated platelets a year ago it did not go very well. In fact, in went rather poorly. So much so that later that night I basically collapsed and was rendered unsteady to the point that Alison had to drive me from her house back to where I was staying on my weekly visit from Shenandoah. The next morning I woke up at 5:00 am to drive back to the park in time for work at 8:30 and immediately realized there was no way I was doing any such thing. It was one of only two times that I have ever called in sick as a park ranger (the other being as a result of staying up nearly the entire night talking with Alison early on in our relationship).
So all that is to say that I was leery at best about the idea of donating platelets. Yet, when I arrived and easily passed all the tests and was subsequently again identified as a prime candidate for platelet donation, I let myself be convinced and settled in for what became a nearly three hour journey. Now, for those of you who have not experienced the wonderful world of apheresis, it bears little resemblance to whole blood donation. They are essentially sucking nearly all the blood out of your body, spinning it in order to break it into its different parts, and then putting most of it back in again. This takes a while and meant that I had to have a needle in each arm, one to take the blood, and one to give it back. After about an hour and a half it lost its luster and started becoming less than fun. By the time I finished I was so weak that I literally couldn't get off the chair. I was so lightheaded that I could barely speak coherent words and felt a strange tingling spread throughout my body. It was simultaneously strange, unpleasant, and surreal, as if I were observing myself from a distant vantage point. I ended up having to stay there for quite a while after they pulled the needles out before I was coherent enough to speak in cogent sentences. I did regain enough strength to make it home, but it was not until four or five days later that I felt anywhere near normal and even then I continued to have moments of discomfort where the needles had been placed.
So I think I have decided that it really is not a very good idea for me to donate platelets. Regardless of their entreaties I think I will have to stick with a standard whole blood donation in the future!