Friday, March 27, 2009

Platelets - Title Change

If you have read this thing from the beginning, you have already heard about this, but I am going to post about it again, in hopes that more people will participate. You will save a life.

Every quarter, some of my workplace colleagues, along with a few friends and sometimes the mom of 1 of our kids, set our alarms for an indecently early hour and stumble on down to our local Red Cross for our quarterly "Day of Life" platelet donation. If you have never done this before, it is nothing like giving blood. There are about 863 legitimate reasons you can't donate platelets, including:
  • the heartbreak of inadequate veins (oh, the humanity!)
  • a recent tattoo of "I love Jessica Simpson" - if you're that stupid, we don't want your platelets. It might make the person getting your platelets stupid as well. Just kidding. Your stupidity isn't catching that way. At least I hope not.
  • any other recent tattoo of anyone or anything
  • any IV drug user
  • any illegal drug user
  • any prescription drug user
  • any aspirin user
  • any recent sex with a gay man
  • any recent sex with a resident of Africa
  • any recent sex with an IV drug user
  • any recent sex with a monkey
  • any recent sex, period
  • any large, tough man who will drop in a dead faint when a needle sucks blood out of him (someone knows who I am talking about here)
  • anyone else who will drop in a dead faint at the tiny fingerprick for the 1 measly drop of blood they have to test to see if you have been chewing through enough rusty nails lately
You do know I made some of those up, right?

Anyway, it is a loooong list of red flags, which means that there are only 37 people left in the whole city who can donate platelets, and half of us were there this morning. So, here are some peeks at the experience. It is a busy, bustling place, even so early in the morning:

Most of the very comfy recliners now have their very own TV to watch. I got one too, so I set the channel to Good Morning America, and during our local news break, we saw the 'welcome home' of one of our carriers, the USS Iwo Jima:

Some facts about apheresis:
  • Apheresis usually refers to platelets, which are the most common components drawn through this method.
  • In the human body, platelets are the first step in the clotting process.
  • Apheresis donors give about 10% of their platelets, with no loss in clotting ability.
  • Bone marrow transplant, cancer, and leukemia patients benefit significantly from platelets, which greatly reduce the chances of rejection.
  • It takes about two hours to collect enough platelets to help bone marrow transplant, cancer, and leukemia patients.
  • Donors with high platelet counts often are able to donate two units of platelets in one visit.
  • The collection bags, tubing and needles are all sterile, and used for one donation only. The donor's blood never comes in direct contact with the machine.
  • Individuals can donate platelets frequently (every 48 hours) because platelets are rapidly replaced, usually within one day.
  • Once collected, platelets must be transfused within five days or be discarded.
  • On average, leukemia patients require more than 20 platelet transfusions over a six-month period.
  • Many critically ill patients require tissue-typed platelets (HLA matches). Regular donors are typed and used to meet these needs. The chance for an exact patient-donor match is 1 in 20,000. HLA-typed donors are encouraged to join the National Bone Marrow Registry.

When my boss was done with her donation . . .

. . . she came over to snitch my camera and take some snaps. It was cold in there, so I had pulled the blanket up over my nose. Now, usually I am not freezing, but I generally feel colder when I am sleepy, and I could barely keep my eyes open. Too little sleep and too early to rise. And, when you give platelets, something about the procedure makes your lips tingle.

Oooh, baby, tingling lips. I could go somewhere with that, but another day.

Anyway, here is the explanation from
Occasional side effects of the donation of platelets include tingling, chills, slight nausea, bruising, fatigue, and dizziness. Frequently while donating the lips may begin to tingle; a supply of calcium antacid tablets is usually kept close by because the anticoagulant works by binding to the calcium in the blood. Since calcium is used in the operation of the nervous system, nerve-ending-dense areas (such as the lips) are susceptible to the tingling. Usually chewing a handful of antacid tablets will raise calcium levels and relieve the tingling. Bruising may also occur. Fatigue and dizziness are generally not as common after donating platelets as it is after donating blood because the red blood cells are returned to the donor.
Nerve-ending-dense areas are susceptible to tingling? Now I'm wondering if the tingling strikes other areas and makes some people, uh, feel their, ahem, libido rise. Heh, heh.

And doncha know that I am gonna put a label of 'tingling lips' on this post to troll for some interesting Googlers.

So yeah, tingling & chills & breathing the frigid air in there. They give you a heating pad over your arm & blankets to burrow under:

Here is my setup:

My blood whizzes through the separator . . . .

. . . . and the end-product is a double (evidently I have a plethora of platelets) bag of yellow, life-giving goodness:

Oh, and part of the good time was messing with the gentleman 2 chairs down. I noticed that every once in a while, the channel on my TV would randomly change, and my nurse thought it might happen when that other guy changed his channel. So every minute or so, I would be sneaky & point my clicker at his TV and scroll through the channels. He would get a puzzled look on his face and change it back. The nurse & I were pitifully easy to amuse, 'cause we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. He finally figured it out and was very good-natured about it.

Everyone there is very nice and thanks you profusely for coming in. At the end, we get our thank-you parting gifts, one of which is always a $10 gift card from Panera. This is very exciting to me as it involves my favorite 4-letter 'f' words - free & food. Made me feel all warm & fuzzy toward Panera, until I found out that they were NOT donated by Panera out of the goodness of their hearts. The Red Cross bought them.

C'mon Panera. Be a man and do a good deed for your community. The Red Cross doesn't need to be spending that money as an inducement to donate. So, I sent Panera an e-mail when I got home. Maybe they'll read it.

Came home and promptly took a nap. It is now 6:00 and I am still sleepy and dragged out. Sleepy and dragged out to the point that I wish I could wear a catheter just so I wouldn't have to get up to go to the bathroom. Hey, I gave a double today, so indulge me, okay? I want to go to bed. Wait. I'm a grown-up, bedtime can be whenever I want it to be, so, goodnight . . ...... snore . . snort . . . . zzzzz . . . . ...........


Call me naive, call me an optimist, but sometimes I wonder. Are there really people this stupid???

BTW, to my sister & brother-in-law . . . . uh . . . . how come you can't get your deer meat this way?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

See? It wasn't Blogger after all

Problem diagnosed and fixed.

My friend Russ tried his different browsers, all 83 of them, and Internet Explorer was the only one that didn't work. So he asked me if I had added anything to my blog since my last post. Sure enough, I had placed a box on the right side of the page that had interesting word origins, and Internet Explorer didn't like it. Not. one. bit.

Microsoft doesn't play well with others.

I took it off, and IE has decided to be nice again and all is well with the universe.

For the time being.

You will find a link to it in the "Things you might like to look at" section.

If only a Mac wasn't so stinkin' expensive, I wouldn't even have to deal with Windows.

Blogger Shenanigans

At first I thought that Blogger seemed to be experiencing some rather menopausal mood swing-like symptoms. I got messages from 2 people this afternoon and 1 more this evening that they could not open my this page. "Hmmmmm," I thought, "I have no idea why". I can open it fine, I opened it fine at work, My good friend Rosie opened it fine. If I think about technical difficulties with anything dealing with the computer, my brain starts to cry and eventually my head explodes.

Then I looked at my Feedjit, and noticed something. All the people who can not open my page are using . . . . . . .


C'mon people. Don't you know that Microsoft is evil and should be sent back to the farthest reaches of the Hell that first nurtured its evil seed?
(click on that link, it is funny as all)

Use any other of the fine browsers available for free that can be found at your happy internet superstore. My other good friend Russ outlines some of them very nicely here, and also demonstrates some superior brainpower by agreeing about evils of Microsoft.

When I tried to open my page with IE, I get the same problem that people are reporting: the page opens, then when you think you are safe, a demon appears to tell you:

Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site
Operation aborted.

Then when you click "OK", the whole page disappears and another evil error page appears

Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage

Most likely causes:

  • You are not connected to the Internet.
  • The website is encountering problems.
  • There might be a typing error in the address.

What you can try:

Diagnose Connection Problems

More information More information

Please, Please, PLEASE, break free from the bondage of Microsoft and experience something better. Now. Before you have your bedtime glass of wine. Before you brush your teeth. Before "Survivor" is over.

Either that or be resigned to the fact that you are going to have to wear garlic and wield a silver cross when you use Internet Explorer in the future. Oh, what? That's for vampires? Same thing.

Oh, and just so you know, Corel WordPerfect is a vastly superior word processing program than Microsoft Word. There, I just had to get that off my chest.

Oh, and Blogger tells me they will have an outage at 4:00 PST.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blog Visitors

Ever since I put the Feedjit tracker on my blog (over on the right hand side, scroll down),
I have been able to keep track of where my readers are from.

I know, I know. I use the term 'readers' loosely,
since I know some people come here because they are looking for something else.
Like smut

And someone came to this post by Googling "it is good to allow children to eat off the floor".
Makes me worry about their parenting skills.

Feedjit gives me a lot for my entertainment dollar, especially since it is a free feature.
And 'free' is one of my 2 favorite 4-letter 'f' words. The other is 'food'.
Put them together and I am a happy person.

But I digress.

So, anyway, I have been placemarking all my hits on Google Earth
(although when I upgraded to the latest version, it ended up being slower than eating soup with chopsticks, sloower than playing tag on the moon, slooower than an Amish drag race, sloooower than a dying HAL9000, get it?).

As of 11:00 am this morning, I have had visitors from
(remember to click on the pictures to make them bigger)

127 US cities, 5 cities in Canada . . . .

. . . . and 36 other international cities, including:

4 from South America (2 in the north & 2 in the south),

numerous from Europe, including Eastern Europe,

2 from southern Africa,

3 from India, 2 from Indonesia, and 1 from China (although that person visited twice.
I don't know why, since I'm pretty sure that's the one who was googling pictures of boobs)

Oh, and one hit from Miercurea-ciuc, Harghita as I was writing this.
Be right back, I have to go look that one up . . . . . . . . . ahhh, it's in Romania.

I find this fascinating. You probably find it as interesting as watching grass grow,
but (I've said it before) it's my blog and I can do whatever I want.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I am a big fat sucker

How, I ask you, am I supposed to be immune to this face?

He has me wrapped around his little finger, and HE KNOWS IT, the little buggar. Most of the time I can resist, but every now and then I succumb. Case in point: a few days ago, I stopped in his classroom to wave goodbye on my way home. I was holding a stack of stuff with my calendar on top, so he starts staring back & forth from my calendar to me. Now begins the guessing game, since yes & no questions are the main way of getting any information out of the boy.

Is it about the Shamrock Marathon? (he is doing the 8k with our local chapter of Team Hoyt this morning).

Well, he is looking forward to that, but no.

Is it about his birthday next month?


Is it about the bike ride next month? (Holy crap! that's next month? I need to get busy)


Hmmmmm, I can't think of anything else coming up. Is it about something else on my calendar?


The panic look starts to come over my face. What on earth is he talking about? He knows I have trouble with this sometimes and he laughs at me. Laughs!

Is it something you are doing?


Is it something I am supposed to do?


But I don't . . . . wait, it's coming . . . . BINGO! I got it. The look of dawning comprehension comes over my face and he laughs at me AGAIN!

Here's the story. He gets back spasms due to his muscle problems, and I started giving him massages when we went to Blacksburg for the football game. He had been in his wheelchair for hours, and he was hurting, so I worked on his back before bed.

Well, Mr. "I-never-forget" never let me forget either, and he has been asking for massages ever since. I can't accommodate every request, otherwise I would be doing this every day. And he isn't even on my caseload. He has other people who can do this, right? Right? I do know that, really I do.

A couple months ago, he asked again. I finally told him okay, but it couldn't be until Friday, since I was busy, but that I would write it in my calendar so I wouldn't forget. He wanted to see his name written in my calendar as proof, so I showed it to him. In ink.

That's what he wanted this time. He wanted another appointment. In ink. So I hemmed and hawed for a minute, but he knew. He knew. He knew I couldn't say no.

In his defense, he doesn't ask all that often, because he knows I can't do it all the time.

So I opened my calendar and wrote his name in it. In ink. Spa treatment.

Except no candles, no flowers, no heated blankets, no soothing music, the towels are generic white, and the cream is unscented. Otherwise, just the same.

A soothing moment to end a busy week.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why, why? Tell me why?

Why would anyone voluntarily eat this?

There are no words. But if you click on the picture, it will grow. Heh.

Well, maybe a few. I can't even imagine what was going through the mind of the first person who looked at a large, excited, male mammal and said, "I'm gonna eat that big dangly thing hanging down between his legs."

There is a joke somewhere in there just begging . . . .

Kind of like the first person who looked at a chicken and thought, "I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes out that chicken's ass." Thank that person the next time you enjoy your morning eggs.

Bon appetit.

***my spell checker wanted that to be 'ape tit'***

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Because we all want to eat off the floor, right?

I am not talking about the 5-second rule here. I'm talking someone trying to convince me my floor should be germ-free. I'm talking about the rampant, widespread, and reckless use of "antibacterial" products. Yes, I said reckless. Reckless, useless, and shortsighted. Before I go on, there are 2 schools of thought on this, and each side presents convincing research, so the jury is still out. One extreme says that antibacterials don't do any harm, so swim in that antibacterial soap, it's all good. The other extreme waves their arms wildly and predicts the demise of mankind from all the new bacterial strains that laugh at the latest & greatest chemicals we have created to kill them.

I am on the side of caution. Antimicrobials are so pervasive, we are finding them in laundry detergent, soaps, creams, lotions & potions. Putting them in soaps really doesn't kill anything, by the way. They're not on your skin long enough. If you took a soak in it, like Madge the manicurist made you do, maybe.

Killing germs has its place & its uses, but not on my floor or in my ears. Huh, what was that? Floor? Ears? Seriously, I saw advertising just this morning (inspiring this rant) touting the benefits of . . . . . wait for it . . . . . removing bacteria from your floor!

WTF??? My first thought is this - uh, wouldn't the lack of germs on your kitchen floor last about as long as it takes for the next person to come in and walk on it with their dirty feet? Puh-leeze. I have also seen these advertised, although not in awhile:

Antibacterial Q-tips? Oh no they di-int. Earwax has antibacterial properties of its own, it doesn't need that kind of help. Not to mention that we dig around in our ears with swabs waaaaay too much anyway. Kathy raises her hand guiltily.

Simply put, the overuse of antibacterial products & antibiotics (but mostly antibiotics) may lead to resistant strains of bacteria and the dumbing down of our immune systems. I would get on a soapbox (heh heh, soapbox, heh heh) during the pathology class that I taught at the college, and the gist of my lecture was this:
Allergies appear to be increasing in the US (and western societies in general) for unknown reasons. Allergies require an environmental trigger to be activated, which can range from dust mites & animals to our favorite foods. An interesting new theory proposes that the increase in allergies in the US may be due to the “cleanliness” of our modern world. There is a particular group of immunoglobulins, those lovely substances that make up our immune systems, that guard us against parasitic infections. They are called IgE's. Generations ago, when we didn’t know that we had to wash our hands & cook our meat beyond any deliciousness, IgE’s role in attacking parasites was a fine thing to have. Now, IgE’s are feeling particularly unfulfilled since we have mostly eliminated parasitic diseases here. Consequently, they have turned to normally harmless things to pick on that have similar protein sequences to parasites.

**Aside - only proteins can trigger true allergies - an IgE response, so it is doubtful that people are allergic to cigarette smoke or perfumes since they do not have a protein sequence. These types of substances can trigger a histamine release, giving us runny noses & watery eyes, but it is not a true allergic reaction, which can be life-threatening. One study found that of 246 patients taking allergy medication, fewer than half actually had real allergies. The rest were having a histamine release triggered by other things. Some people are 'allergic' to non-living things, like sunlight, cold, etc. You can't really be allergic to these things, but the sunlight or cold triggers a protein change in their skin that their immune system reacts to, or they already have an abnormal protein in their blood that causes the reaction. Allergies are all about proteins.

Dust mites, pet dander & ragweed have been around for longer than we have, but suddenly we are becoming allergic to these simple things. Studies have found that rural children, raised around farm animals and farming, have far fewer allergies than suburban kids do. Their IgE’s are happy fulfilling their purpose in life.
Think of IgE’s as schoolyard bullies itching for a fight, and since they can’t find any parasites to pick on, they pick on the nice little kiddies who never hurt anyone.
It's the mechanical action of washing with soap & water that cleans your hands, NOT the presence of antimicrobials. Soap keeps the junk from sticking to your skin, and water rinses it away. Period. That's ALL you need. Here is a good article to read from my brother's alma mater.

Most of today's antibacterial products are made with triclosan. Research is showing that the combination of triclosan with the chlorine in tap water forms chloroform and dioxins, both toxic and possibly carcinogenic, in very small amounts. Add all those small amounts from the entire US population awash in the stuff and it's not 'very small' anymore. All municipal tap water has chlorine added to it. I love my well water!!!! If Virginia Beach every tries to make me convert to their chlorinated nasty city water, they will have a fight on their hands.

Here is some interesting reading about the different sides of the controversy:
Article on the CDC website
Fox news story questioning the research
Research study the Fox reporter cites

Now, everyone go eat a little dirt every day. Just a little.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let There Be Light

I don't care who thought of it. I don't care why it was started. I don't care that some people hate it. I LOVE daylight savings time. Without it, during fall & winter, the only time I see the sun is on my way to work in the morning. Don't see much of it while I'm at work, and since I work until 6:00 pm, when I leave, there ain't none left. Makes you feel like the day is over. Might as well just go home & go to bed, 'cause there's nothing fun to do. whine, sniff

But now, when I trudge out the back door to go home for the day, this is what I see . . .

Blue sky, clouds, trees, sunshine, discernible objects. Before DST, this is what I would see when I walked out the door . . .

And speaking of light, I have a hallway in my house that does not have a light fixture in it, so when we would get up in the middle of the night to, uh, do our business, we would have to grope our way to the bathroom. That got old, so a few years ago I strung up some miniature lights along the ceiling. Made a nice twinkly (actually, they didn't twinkle, they were steady burning) happy trail for us to follow, but over the past few weeks, they slowly started snuffing out. Mini lights are pretty inexpensive, so instead of trying to guess which ones were burned out, I just replaced the whole shebang. Ah, but with a different kind this time. Coooooooool . . .

And lemmejustellya, sometimes I get up in the middle of the night just to look at them. Before they went up, this is what the hallway looked like . . .

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rest in Peace

When you work where I do, death is an unwelcome specter lurking in the shadows. All our kids are considered fragile (some more than others), and we live with the knowledge that, from time to time, one of them will leave us. Even though we know in our heads that this is a very real possibility, nothing prepares our hearts for losing the children we love.

One of our boys returned to the arms of the angels this weekend, and the news awaited us when we got to work this morning. He slipped away peacefully in his sleep, having outlived every expectation.

Rest well, beloved child.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kids at the beach

My friend & fellow blogger Rosie inspired this with her latest post about wheelchair access on the Outer Banks. It got me to thinking - again - about our kids at St. Mary's (Google alerts at the Home!).

So many things we take for granted, they will never experience, and this post is about one of those things in particular. We are very lucky to be living here in coastal Virginia where we can go see the ocean whenever we want, but our kids, even though they live here too, are dependent on their wheelchairs to get them around.

Let me emphasize this: wheelchairs + sand + salt water = broken wheelchair = disaster.

And we at St. Mary's feel that our kids should be able to experience some of the particular joys of life like any other kid, namely, the sound of the surf, the smell of the sea, and the feel of the sand & waves. We're just funny that way.

The resort strip in Virginia Beach has the "boardwalk", which I have posted about before, and wheelchairs have a smooth ride on its smooth cement, so the sound of the surf & the smell of the sea are certainly within our kids' reach. But, if you go north to Fort Story or south to Sandbridge or the Outer Banks (please note that the Wiki mentions that the Outer Banks start in southeastern VA), there is no boardwalk to be found. That leaves nothing between the ocean and the road but sea oats and houses. What's a wheelchair to do?

We take some of them to the beach in the summers now, but all we can do is push them along the boardwalk. Some of them participate in the shorter runs with out local chapter of Team Hoyt. But how do they really experience the ocean?

I'll tell you. We in the Physical Therapy Department started looking into this a while ago, and yes, my boy was one of the reasons. This is where I introduced him, for those who don't remember (and that particular post seems to be the source of a lot of overseas hits on my blog. Go figure).

Anyway, we found these . . .

And this one . . .

There are other manufacturers, but you get the idea. Trouble is, these are a pretty penny to buy, in fact, more like one or two hundred thousand pennies. So we have to figure out a way to not only pay for it, but make it accessible to as many kids as possible. But these can be rolled right down into the water so that our kids can feel, if only for a few minutes, like any other kid before they have to go back to the harsh reality of their lives.

It would need to allow for modifications to make more secure for our guys, since they generally have very poor control of their bodies, but we are seeing a lot of potential here.

Excuse me now, I must go make some cookies for our bake sale.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A red letter day

A red-letter day because one of my 4 faithful readers actually asked for another blog post, and it hasn't even been a week. So I can't disappoint, even though I know he was just being polite. The trouble is, absolutely nothing intelligent or witty has crossed my mind this week. Wait, let me think . . . . . . nope, nothing.

I have been very busy at work preparing a presentation (over with as of this afternoon), so when I got home all week, I kind of zoned out. Besides, night before last, the furnace konked out (during the frigid temps), and it is just limping along until Saturday when it can be fixed properly. Luckily, it limped just enough Tuesday night for sufficient hot water to take a shower, but I had to turn it off after that. DURING THE COLD SNAP! I think I am ready for spring now. With the price of #2 fuel oil & the lack of snow, winter has definitely lost its charm.

But if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes....

Doesn't every city take questionable pride in that dubious claim? Really, with the exception of San Diego, which has the nicest weather in the solar system, most everyone else's weather changes, quite often in fact. Or 4 times a year at least. So we in Virginia Beach are nothing special when we make the same claim everyone else makes.

Last weekend, we finally got our (or I should say 'my') long-awaited snow and frigid temperatures. And again, the good folks to the south of us got multiple inches whilst we got only a wee dusting. T'aint fair. The problem is, this beautiful fluffy stuff came after some very mild, warm days, so all the spring the flowers were blooming. As a result . . .

These are my flowers

These are my flowers on ice.

Kind of makes you wonder if it was worth it. Between last Sunday and this coming Sunday, according to our local Hippy Dippy Weather Man, we will experience a 50 degree temperature increase. Holy cow!!

But this snowfall was nothing if not tenacious. In one of our courtyards at work, notice that the snow dast not cross over into the sun.

Don't you cross that line, you hear me snow?!

On one side is sun and spring. On the other side is shade and winter. Literally. It was as if someone spliced 2 different photos together. Weird.

I'll try to think of something brilliant for next time.