Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There's a Reason These Dates are Numbered

My senior year of college, I took a trip to New Orleans for St. Patty’s Day (I could never do Mardi Gras, NOLA-style, as I would die; St. Patrick’s Day is more my speed. Plus, you get to drink green beer). My friend, Angie, and I had a blast hanging out with my high school bestie, Brittany: getting soaked in the rain at the parade, trading kisses for beads, dancing at F&M’s, shopping on Magazine. It was a great trip, but, alas, it had to come to end.
On our way back to Texas, I got pulled over for speeding. Actually, pulled over isn’t entirely accurate—it was more like the cop pointed at me and then pointed to the shoulder. He wasn’t even in his car, he was just standing there with his laser gun.

Sidebar: I never get off easy with these things, no matter how polite I am. Funny “Elise gets pulled over story,” real quick though: once, I realized that I left my driver’s license at home when a cop asked for it and my insurance when he pulled me over for talking on a cell phone in a school zone. I was talking to my dad about a red-light ticket I had just gotten in the mail. Total number of tickets that day? Three.

I put on my big-girl panties and took the ticket without whining or crying (though, really, I was just going with the flow of traffic). For some reason, Louisiana doesn’t tell you how much your ticket is going to be; it’s anyone’s guess. Since I was a poor college student and I wasn’t going to ask the rents for more money, I decided that this was the perfect time to tap an as-of-yet untapped resource: my blood.

No, I wasn’t going to prostitute myself to the newly out-of-the-coffin vamps on True Blood. I was going to sell my plasma.

If you’ve ever lived in a college town, you see ads all the time for places like DCI Biologicals, where one can sell one’s plasma for cash. It seemed like a perfect plan and an easy and painless way to raise the money for my speeding ticket.

It turned out it wasn’t quite so easy. I was constantly battling low iron or low blood pressure (seriously, it’s like I’m dead). I would drink a liter of water right before I went so that I could qualify, and started eating Fudd burgers instead of Wendy’s chicken sandwiches in an effort to boost my iron (as well as my cholesterol).   

The process of donating one’s plasma is pretty simple. They check you out to make sure you’re in good health, then set you up in a recliner-bed type thingie, and hook you up to the machine. They take the blood out, spin it around so that the centrifugal force separates the red blood cells from the yellow plasma, and then put the red blood cells back in. You can donate up to twice a week, and get between $25 and $35 per visit.

Sidebar: You may be wondering at this point, where I’m going with this. Be patient.

The other thing that they do when they give you your red cells back is add an anti-coagulante, which prevents the cells from clotting.

During this time, I met a guy, Ethan, through my friend, Janet; they were (and still are) vet students in College Station. We had made arrangements to go out one summer’s night and get to know one another better. I was still adding to my envelope of cash, so the afternoon of the day in question, I went to sell more plasma.

When I got home, and started getting ready, I was met with a shocking revelation. Miss Scarlet had come home to Tara with a vengeance. I later realized that the anti-coagulantes I had been given were just doing their job (though not in a way that was expected), but at the time, I thought I was dying. Seriously, my roommates were about ready to take me to the hospital.

I was laid up in bed, moaning, when Ethan called, wanting to know what time to come pick me up for dinner. I wasn’t really sure what to say to this, as I felt I was in no condition to leave the house but didn’t really want to give anything but vague reasons as to why I was not feeling well, embarrassed as I was.

I made some sort of flimsy excuse, but Ethan would not be deterred. I’m pretty sure he decided to bring me some sort of soup, and showed up about an hour later with a little rose from his backyard. It was sweet, and I managed to rouse myself and adjourn to the living room, where he and I and my roommates played an exhilarating game of Cranium (I’m kind of awesome at Cranium, no lie).

I went out with Ethan once more after this, a truly awkward meeting at Sweet’s. The spark had died, and we made uncomfortable conversation for about an hour before I made my excuses and left.

I eventually made enough money to pay off my speeding ticket, and ceased selling my plasma. The scars, both emotional and physical, have begun to fade.

1 comment:

  1. I donated plasma in college too- but I had no idea what was happening in that tube machine. I feel pretty dumb to realize that I just blindly trusted it was totally alright and safe.

    Oh also, this blog post is one of my favorites! Looking forward to the eventual book :)

    -- Katie