August 10, 2012

Awake, With Potential Regrets; Justifying One's Existence

On WEDNESDAY, I sneezed so much I felt like I'd rather be knocked out by allergy medicine than go through another day like that. I took the allergy medicine at night, in case it made me drowsy. It was the 24-hour non-drowsy kind, so I hoped the drowsiness was mostly in the beginning.

On THURSDAY, I thought, "Why have I had a pot of coffee and can still barely keep my eyes open? I'm so tired. My brain is asleep. My mouth is just, like, hanging open." Ah. The non-drowsy allergy medicine. I didn't take any more that night.

TODAY, I am wondering how things are going to go. Already I have that irritated tingling sneezy rip-the-face-off feeling, but I also feel AWAKE. I don't feel I should have to trade one of these things for the other. Nevertheless, that reality continues to exist despite my objections.

********

If you are of a temperament that periodically has Low Times where you feel you have done nothing, that you do nothing, that you in no way change the world, that all you do is suck up more than your fair share of world resources, that you OUGHT to find a career in which you would Do Some Good but instead you are trapped at home and also skill-less and it's too much effort/expense to identify, choose, and obtain skills---then I have a suggestion, and it's donating blood. It is surprisingly comforting. You show up and other people do all the work, but if you do NOTHING ELSE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, not even after you are out from under the sticky little hands of your tiny oppressors, you will nevertheless have done good.

Plus, there's usually treats afterward, and people will thank you, and you will go home with pleasant inaccurate fantasies of your blood being IMMEDIATELY RUSHED by special messenger to the hospital where someone worthy is JUST ABOUT TO DIE but will be saved by YOUR PRECIOUS STILL-WARM BLOOD. And the children will look a little cuter, because they haven't been in front of your eyeballs for an hour or so.

The first time was a big hurdle for me, because I hate new things. I hate finding out where I'm supposed to go, making the appointment, and showing up not knowing how things go or which door I'm supposed to use. But after that, it's easy. If you want more pre-reassurance (plus a LENGTHY section on "No, I don't think you ought to be donating blood if you CAN'T or DON'T WANT TO"), see What It's Like to Donate Blood. I specifically made it non-squicky.

34 comments:

Magic27 said...

I have hideous allergies to the huge cypress tree right outside my bedroom (I didn't develop the allergy till after moving in. Of course) and the row of plane trees in front of my office (ditto). I take Zyrtec and have no drowsiness from it at all. That said, I'm some kind of freak because anti-depressants, Xanax, whatever, have NO effect on me either, so I may not be the best help.
Giving blood IS something I feel like I would "like" to do (I have many, many times when I feel particularly waste-of-space-ish, but being bipolar is the cause of that, not children as my two are at school and/or with their dad a lot and I spend more time utterly alone than anything). However, French laws (I'm in France) are ridiculously strict and as I'm a British citizen who grew up eating meat in Britain during the "mad cow" frenzy, they refuse to take my blood. It seems utterly crazy to me; I've been in France for exactly 20 years and have no symptoms of "mad cow disease". Very, very few people, even in Britain, have actually developed the disease, and hospitals are crying out for blood. Yet they still refuse to take mine. So I guess I'll have to find something else to make me feel useful.
Good advice though (as long as you're not British and in France!).

Anonymous said...

Ha! Your pleasantly inaccurate fantasy was an actual lol for me.

Kathy said...

I've got the perfect allergy solution for you: Nasonex. It's an Rx so unfortunately will require at least a phone call if not a Dr visit but it's a steroid spray which really works and doesn't cause any tiredness at all. My only cautionary note is that taking it every day caused a depression in my immunities and I picked up every cold, virus etc going around (it's a listed side effect). Using it once every 3 nights works perfectly almost totally taking away my nasal allergies (no more sinus headaches!!) and no side effects!

melissa.cureton said...

I like giving blood, but have lessened doing so because of the disgust with which the techs regard my veins. I hydrate, drink no caffeine, and still my veins suck. They always sigh deeply like I am making their lives difficult on purpose. I find this...discouraging at best. Any advice?

Beylit said...

Allergy meds don't actually make me tired, never really have to my knowledge. Of course allergy meds also don't do a whole lot to stop my allergies. I think I built up a tolerance to them from when I was younger and was allergic to EVERYTHING. No seriously they gave me the scratch test and then had to re give it to me 4 samples at a time because the first time my back turned into one giant knot and they couldn't determine what was what. So 4 years of 4 shots a week and I could live in the world again. But allergy meds do nothing, good or bad.

And you know what is worse than being stuck in that low feeling where you feel pretty much useless? Try not even having tiny oppressors to give you some sort of meaning and also not being able to donate blood. I can't even do that much for the world because I am always told I am too anemic. I just stopped trying because I was annoyed at getting turned away.

Swistle said...

Melissa- Ack, that would discourage me, too. I think with my temperament I'd lead with something like "I know my veins are not the nice plump easy kind---but I'm ready if you are! It's just so worth it, you know?"

That's the telemarketer trick of getting them on your side by forcing a positive reply! But my motivation would be (1) to let them know _I_ know it won't be easy, and (2) to re-set their perspective, in case they've let it slip a bit.

But my mom has skimpy/difficult veins, too, and she's found that mentioning it seems to make some technicians MORE sigh-ish---like they've received permission to be disgruntled about it. So. Hard to know. I might choose a different Way To Help The World, since the "contribution being appreciated" aspect can be so important. Or I might just try leading-in statement after leading-in statement, until I found one that seemed to soften them. (But I'd resent having to do so: I'M giving up TIME and BLOOD for FREE. They are getting PAID to do a DELIBERATELY-ACQUIRED JOB.)

Anonymous said...

I am one of those people who would occasionally like to feel like I do something good in the world besides feed and care for my own children, however, I can't give blood for health reasons! Crappy! What should I do instead??

Swistle said...

Anonymous 9:37- I like picking up a few non-perishables when I'm grocery-shopping and putting them in the donation bin. Or last year I got backpacks and snowpants on deep clearance, to donate THIS year when the local food/clothes panty asks for them. And I remember there were a lot of good ideas on this post!

MomQueenBee said...

Husband and Boy#3 are of the highly-allergic-to-something-seasonal-in-nature types and they have found the one-time-only shots to be MAGICAL. Seriously. They sneeze and sniffle non-stop for a day (during which time I am highly annoyed) and the shot stops the reaction cold. I highly recommend this for the mental health of the rest of your family. Oh, and for your comfort, too.

Guinevere said...

I cannot donate blood for the same Mad Cow hysteria reasons, except it's my first 6 years (just above the 5 year cutoff) spent as a STRICT VEGETARIAN in Europe. Again, this was 25 years ago.

This also makes me eligible for donation of breastmilk to the HMBANA banks (which I would recommend to anyone who can! Preemies! Who need your LIFE-GIVING MILK)... but I found that a local adoptive mom expecting a healthy term baby who was willing to take my blood tests and lack of mad cow symptoms, and her daughter has been exclusively on my and another donor's breastmilk since birth, starting with my colostrum, and that is an equally awesome thing! I pump at night when the kids are in bed so it's sort of kid-free time, and I try to make sure there are treats. :)

Guinevere said...

And here is the link to the HMBANA banks - that's the Human Milk Bank Association of North America - http://www.hmbana.org

There are a bunch of other banks that are more for-profit-y so I would encourage people to be wary of banks associated with Prolacta Biosciences, for example.

Shalini said...

I cannot donate blood because I am never iron-fortified enough, but when I did, my smug satisfaction of being a Good Person was GREAT.

HereWeGoAJen said...

Darn it, those other two in the comments have totally ruined my fun by explaining it properly, but I also am lifetime banned from giving blood because of Mad Cow Disease. However, I was permitted to register as a marrow donator. They haven't wanted any of mine yet though.

Nicole said...

Donating blood is an excellent thing. Also excellent - homeless shelters always need things like socks and underwear and feminine hygiene, so whenever one is shopping, one can pick up one of those items cheaply, and donate! Very easy, makes a difference, and inexpensive as well.

artemisia said...

You know, I just love you, Swis. I just do. I wish we could hang out in real live. Too bad we are many thousands of miles apart.

Coffee over Skype some day?

Brigid Keely said...

When I was pregnant and had insomnia (as opposed to my entire life of not being pregnant and having insomnia) my APN blithely suggested I just take some benedryl since it's totally safe and knocks you out. Only it's never made me sleepy ever. My kid seems to have the same reaction to it, too (although unlike me it seems to actually touch his allergy symptoms).

I wish I could give blood because, despite a manageable needle-phobia, it's really easy and important. But I ALSO have tiny veins and it's hard to get a needle in there (it took half an hour for two phlebomotists to do a blood draw for GD screening, and this was the second attempt as the first attempt days earlier had taken too long).

I was a volunteer adult education tutor specializing in math at our neighborhood community center for two years and that was pretty awesome. It took a lot of energy, though, which was sometimes more than I could handle as a person with Depression and an Anxiety Disorder. When I was able to pull my shit together and go I always felt better afterwards.

H said...

Thank you for this post. I will be 50 (ACK) in a couple of days and have had these thoughts lately. Donating blood didn't hit my radar, for some reason. I've never done it before because I have Medical Test Phobia (they will find a terrible disease!) but I think I need to pull up my big girl undies and do it.

Laura Diniwilk said...

I love donating blood too! I keep meaning to do it but I never seem to be in the office on the days Red Cross comes. This is a good reminder that I should mark it on my calendar next time so I can make my own appointment if I miss them coming to me.

Hope you are feeling better today.

phancymama said...

Nothing worse than the fogginess from left over non-drowsy meds.
Also, side benefit of donating blood (at least many years ago) you got a handy card with your blood type on it. So then you can compare blood types with spouse and parents and children and in Biology class. Seems like a small thing, but it is something I refer to surprisingly often!

Bailey said...

I tried to give blood for the first time after I read that last post but I was so excited/nervous that my pulse spiked and I couldn't bring it down in the 60 seconds they gave me. I'm gonna try again on Tuesday. Wish me luck!

Alice said...

i LOVE giving blood - i feel so smugly good about myself AND it's so easy! (easy for ME, i should note - i'm lucky enough to have big, fat veins, no needle phobia, and O- blood.)

then i lived in france for a year and they didn't want my blood. it sucked.

THEN they changed the rules so that it had to be 5 straight yrs in europe or whatever, and i could give blood! yay!

...then i got a tattoo and they didn't want my blood.

then it was a year later, and i could give blood!

...except that i'd been to [name every place i've been to in the past 4 years] and there might be malaria there so they don't want my blood.

i hate it! i do not have malaria! please take my blood! you need it!!

Swistle said...

Bailey- GOOD LUCK!

Gigi said...

I know I should give blood but I'm a big old baby. Every time they do a blood drive at work I feel guilty and think "Maybe this time...."

But while I'm waiting to work up the courage, I do help run a school supply drive at the office for a local needy school. I can't help but beam with joy when those teachers see us walk in with loads and loads of supplies.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

I love all of this post, and some parts more than others, as happens sometimes, but I love best of all "pleasant inaccurate fantasies."

Anonymous said...

Swistle, have you considered donating white blood cells? My mothers life was saved by someone who was a special match for her- they literally would rush his donation thru and to the hospital when she lad leukemia. We will never know who he is, and he will never know that he saved the life of a mother and grandmother.
YOU could be that person to someone!
Allison

Swistle said...

Anonymous/Allison- White blood cells? I don't know what you mean! I'd THINK I'd be willing, but I've never heard of it!

Anonymous said...

I have also partaken of the flesh of the Mad Cow in Britain, and have been banned from donation. Sigh. I guess I'll stay under the boot of my sticky-fingered oppressors for the time being.

shin ae said...

Swistle--Yes, when I went to a blood drive, there was a separate area for people donating plasma. It takes a little longer. My friend has to get infusions of it because she has a hideous autoimmune disease, and I'm not sure exactly what it does for her, but she really, really needs it.

"..out from under the sticky little hands of your tiny oppressors" is so, so funny.

Swistle said...

Anonymous/Allison / shin ae- Oh, yes, I've seen that! I'm definitely willing, and I volunteered to do it when they were asking if anyone in the group was willing, but they said they need my blood type more in whole blood and so they don't want me to do plasma.

Saly said...

I used to really enjoy giving blood. I struggle with the standard nationally known blood bank, because when I was at the height of being diagnosed with my thyroid issues and having blood drawn every 4 weeks, AND was already on a schedule through my workplace to donate when they came in, they harassed me on my home phone, cell phone, and through the 800# of my company's call center to please make an appointment regardless of how many times I asked them to stop calling. It has been over 10 years, and I have never forgiven them.

BUT! Recently I was made aware of a local blood bank, that keeps the blood right here in my area for use at the local hospitals. So, I am going to check them out.

PS-my word verification is STFU, so that's fun.

L-Diggitty said...

What a good idea on the blood donation! I used to give blood all the time (ok, I'm exaggerating... I think I donated twice but I totally sold my plasma once a week in college). But they won't take my blood anymore (or at least, not for another 11 years) since I've traveled in Africa and Haiti.

I've sworn up and down that I kept my handles to myself, didn't shoot up any street drugs or sleep around, and didn't lick any toilet seats while I was there, but no one seems to care.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised they're hard-up for blood donors if they rule out everybody who's ever travelled in Africa or lived in Europe...

willikat said...

I had a really really dumb experience with donating blood, in which I decided to do it on a whim when my dad was having surgery, but I ahd been up for hours and drank only coffee and I have stupid, stupid veins... they managed to get ALMOST the entire bag...and then I just stopped. Stopped bleeding. WHO DOES THAT? So they had to throw the whole damn bag away. After a long, squicky struggle. But here's the deal--this isn't a scare tactic! Even though all that happened, I would totally do it again. Because it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. :)
Also, being a really good mom is one of the most important jobs in the universe. Sending well-adjusted, happy, loved kids into the world is a gift.

Karen L said...

I went to give blood today. They turned me away because I had a sleeping infant strapped into a stroller with me. I was too grumpy to make an appointment to donate at a time that I'd be more convenient for them.