The Plasma Center

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One thing I really like doing is donating plasma. So, this blog is about what I like and dislike about donating plasma and my experiences at Biolife plasma center in Coralville.

My mother and pretty much all of my friends agree that I shouldn’t donate plasma, and as of Monday, they got their wish. I’ll talk more about this second, but feel it’s worth mentioning before the pro/con list.

Reasons to donate plasma:

  1. It is an easy way to be a public servant
  2. You are giving away excess cells without taking away from what you need to be healthy
  3. Plasma is used to create medicals aids for pregnant women and people with hemophilia
  4. You get paid, and since you didn’t do any extra work for the money, you don’t have to feel guilty using it to splurge
  5. You get a medical checkup every time you go in, blood tests every 3 months, and a physical every 6 months for free
Reasons to not donate plasma:
  1. Can cause severe bruising
  2. may be painful or cause nerve damage if needle is put in wrong
  3. You have an increased risk of accidentally coming in contact with someone else’s blood
  4. time consuming (for most people visits are about an hour)
  5. you develop eyesore tract marks
Like I said, I really like donating plasma. I know that it is a business, and it’s actually a pretty lucrative business for the plasma company, but I get a personal sense of helping people every time I donate. I try to donate as often as possible, but for an unknown reason, I have many more problems with donating than anyone else I know. My roommates are always excited to hear what trouble I caused at the plasma center. I’ve bled on the staff, squirted blood at other patients, severely bruised, and failed to bleed on several occasions. Several friends have asked me why I continue to go, because no one else has anywhere near the kind of problems I have, but I continue to go because it really does make me feel good about myself (and getting paid for it is certainly another big incentive).
I was having a lot of trouble donating in February, to the point where they unhooked me before finishing twice in two weeks, once with a little blood in the reserve tank. If that happens twice withing 2 months, you get kicked out for two months because they consider it to be equivalent to donating blood. Because of this, and a bruise that took up most of my biceps and my forearm, I decided to take the whole month of March off.
When I resumed going in April, the problems had decreased. Where it usually takes me an hour and a half, my first 4 donations were all under an hour (the normal time it takes for people to do plasma). It usually takes both arms to finish the donation, but 2 of those 4 times only took 1 arm. So I felt pretty confident that my body had repaired itself, but I had trouble when I went in on Monday.
I went in expecting a pretty good donation. I was well hydrated, I had a good meal before, and it felt like I was warm enough that my veins were pretty close to the surface. When they stuck my arm, it felt fine, but for an unknown reason it was going slow — well, it was actually going the speed I was used to. A person who has never worked with me before decided it was going to slow and kept messing with it to try to make it go faster. In the end, she adjusted it so much in such a short period of time that the skin around the incision became tender and they had to switch to my other arm.
On the other arm, it still wasn’t going fast (well, duh), and they decided to keep playing with it and very quickly made that arm tender too. At this point, I’ve only been sitting down for 7 minutes (my crossword online was timing it), and I only completed 1 cycle. This meant I was under 100 ml of plasma donated — 80 to be precise. If you are under 100 ml before they have to disconnect you, it counts against you. If it happens 3 times in 3 months, they defer you for 1 month to give your body some time to recover. I had this happen once in February, so they insisted that rather than take a second one and give myself a week to recover, they wanted me to get that other 20 ml before disconnecting me.
They adjusted it so much at this point that my skin began to puff up (a sign that it’s going to bruise). So one of the center supervisors came over and made that call that I needed to be disconnected immediately. Because they made me keep trying after that first cycle, I had 50 ml of red blood cells in the reserve. I wanted them to do a third prick into a different vein in my arm (they’ve done it to me once before), but for an unknown reason they wouldn’t do it. It’s been 7.5 weeks since the last time there was a small amount of blood left at the end of the procedure, so since it was less than 8 weeks they deferred me for 8 weeks (Until June 20th). This means that 50ml of blood is being considered equal to the 437 ml of blood you lose when donating whole blood.
I’m really frustrated about the whole situation, because at every step along the way, their decisions wound up screwing me over in the end. They could have left the needle alone in the first arm, nothing was wrong. When they saw that I wasn’t going to be able to finish in the second arm, they could have disconnected me after the return cycle finished, leaving no blood in the reserve. When they made the call to cut me off at the end, they could have tried making an additional incision to return the blood cells, there was no reason not too. In the end, both of my arms feel fine 2 days later, neither arm bruised, and I’m confident that a week or two from now I wouldn’t have anything more serious than a bruise if I did donate. Unfortunately, those extra 3 days I still had for it to be 8 weeks and a measly 50 ml of blood (the reserve holds about half a pint, 237 ml of red cells for reference) means that I cannot continue donating for at least 8 weeks that started on Monday.
I’m a really rare case, it seems. I watch other people at the plasma center, and as often as I go in there, I never see anyone else have problems donating. Many of my friends donate twice a week, and they never have difficulties donating either. One friend was upset because he developed a small bruise once, and that’s the only time any of my friends have mentioned having problems at the plasma center. All this is to say that because I cannot donate plasma for the next 8 weeks, I would really like my readers to do so if they can. So… yeah… donate plasma.

What’s the Dream Mean?

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I have always had a few quirks when it comes to dreams. Things like lucid dreaming and hypnopompic sleep paralysis have always been fairly common for me. Every once in a while I spend an entire night going between these stages of waking and dreaming (I really don’t feel like I am entering a sleep phase prior to the start of the dream) where I wake up every 10-15 minutes for a few seconds and then fall back into the dream. On those nights, I continue the same dream all night or most of the night and can remember the whole thing fairly well in the morning.

I’ve never known whether there was anything to these dreams or if it was just another quirk, but I really pay attention to the nights that I have this kind of dream, because it feels like there is meaning to it. I’ll refer back to two men from the Bible, Joseph and Daniel, who understood the importance of dreams and interpreted them. So, I don’t think it is outrageous to believe there might be something to them. Normally, something will happen the next day that will trigger an explanation to my dream.

Last Thursday, I experienced another one of this kind of dreams. I woke up the first time from the dream around 1am Friday morning and the dream continued until I finally woke up for the day at about 7:20. I was going to be driving to Vieshea, a festival at Iowa State, with my future roommate, Kent, Friday evening, so I figured I would get the answer to the dream while I was there, but it didn’t happen. Finally, on Sunday Kent and I talked about it for a little while during our drive back and he offered a possible interpretation, but I decided to put it out there and ask what my readers think it might mean — especially if one of my readers happens to have the gift of interpreting dreams.

A war was going on and I was fighting in it. At one point during the war, I sneaked away from where the real fight was and made my way to what looked like it could be the downtown of a city, but there were only a few buildings, not the entire city. In front of one of the buildings was a statue of a person (I couldn’t put together a picture of the person’s face and don’t recall ever seeing them or being told who the person was during the dream, but I remember ‘knowing’ who the person was in the dream). With the gunfight still audible in the background, I began to shoot the statue.

Sometime during my 1-man battle, I got captured by who I assume to be my enemy, but they weren’t wearing war clothes, just regular nice dress clothes. They locked me in a jail.  I remember having several conversations for different people when I was in my jail cell, but the only one I can remember any part of is a guy asking basic information: Who am I? Where am I from? that kind of stuff…

I was real cooperative with the people, though I didn’t know who exactly they were. After what seems like it was days the same guy asking for my information moved me from the jail cell to a different kind of jail cell. It seemed more like a bedroom than a jail cell. I had a bed and books and a dresser in there. However the walls and bed and my clothes were all white, but a guard stood in my doorway the whole time I was there. That guy and I had several other conversations for sometime. He introduced me to other people and I could see 2 other rooms similar to mine that had people in it. Nobody ever told me what was going on, but I don’t recall feeling nervous talking to the people or being honest about who I was and that I was shooting the statue. After meeting several people, I was free to move around, but that guard followed me everywhere and most of the time that same guy was there too.

Eventually, the same guy moved me from that room down to what looked like a very clean subway. We got on a train and rode it for a while. Looking outside the train car’s window I could see us passing these other windows that were placed kind of how you would see billboards outside the train car as it passes by. Inside the windows, I could see all sorts of medical rooms with doctors and patients in them. So, there were doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, dentists, etc. all with people moving around, seemingly unaware of the subway right outside their window.

After a while, the subway car came to a stop and the guy and I got off the train. The guy turned to the right and started to talk to someone who must have been waiting for us. I turned to the left (back towards the way we came from) and took a few steps off the car (I don’t feel like it was a trying to escape kind of thing, I just casually started walking the opposite direction). Suddenly I felt an extreme pain in my mouth and my throat. I started coughing, and as I coughed I felt all but 4 or 5 of my teeth fall into my hand along with a whole lot of blood.

When I woke up, the teeth that I could still feel in my mouth during the dream were clenched real tight together (almost painfully) in a position slightly off from my normal bite so only those teeth were making contact with each other. 

So I heard one interpretation that Kent and I came up with together, but I didn’t feel like our answer was confident. Normally when I have these dreams, I understand the meaning very clearly within a day of the dream, but it’s been nearly a week and I still don’t have one that I believe completely explains the dream. So, I know that normally I don’t mind if my readers respond or not, but I’d really like to hear your guys’ thoughts either in a comment, email, facebook message, or just telling me for this one. Also, I love talking about dream and sleep stuff in general, so if anyone has any weird sleep/dream quirks, I’d love to hear them!

Passover… The Lord’s Supper… Communion?

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Easter is quickly coming up, so I want to focus on an Old Testament connection to Easter.

You may have read that Jesus went to Jerusalem, knowing what would happen to him there, to celebrate the Passover. Passover is a Jewish holiday to celebrate when the Lord passed over the Israelite people, killing all the first born sons of Egypt. This marked the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and from slavery. The story takes place in Exodus 12, and is well worth the read.

God gave Moses and Aaron very important instructions. He told them that He is going to kill the firstborn of every family in Egypt on what the Israelites were to consider the 14th day of the 1st month of the year. However the angel of death would pass over any house that put the blood of a 1 year old male spotless lamb on the frames of their door. Inside the house, the family was to supposed to slaughter the lamb themselves, eat the meat of the lamb, eat bread made without yeast, and have their cloak and staff at the ready — they wouldn’t have time to even let the yeast in their bread rise.

Just as God promised, he came on the 14th day of the first month, he killed the firstborn from every house of the Egyptians, and he passed over the houses that had the lamb’s blood on the door frame (This was the 10th plague if you’ve ever read about the 10 plagues in Egypt). So Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron before him and told the Israelite people to leave quickly. To remember this event, God commanded as lasting ordinance to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread… the Passover. For the most part (we’ll just ignore some of Old Testament history) from that time on, the Jewish nation has celebrated the Passover on the 14th day of the 1st month.

So why is this story so important 1400 years later, when Jesus is spending his last night before being crucified? We’ve all heard the story that Jesus and his disciples took the ‘Lord’s Supper,’ Jesus’ last meal before being executed, in the upper room. He was trying to give his disciples a message. He’s explaining a tradition of old and trying to get them to understand what was about to happen to him, why, and how things would change.

Jesus took the bread made without yeast and told his disciples that the bread was his body, broken for them. It has no yeast, representing sin. He told them to eat the bread and remember him. He then took the wine and told his disciples that the wine was his blood, poured out for them. He told them to drink the wine and remember him. This is like what Jesus said in John 6:53-59.

So what does this mean? It means that it is Jesus’ blood that will prevent the people from absorbing the wrath of God, death. So Jesus is screaming to his disciples, “I AM THE PASSOVER LAMB!” From the very first Passover, to the night of the Lord’s Supper, to this Easter, Jesus has always and will always be the Passover Lamb. John the Baptist called him the lamb that takes away the sins of the world. He’s the battered lamb in Revelation that is worthy to open the seals of judgment. He is saying that he was every lamb sacrificed according to laws in Exodus 29. It has always been Jesus. It has always been about the next day when he would be sacrificed. The wrath of God was never satisfied by the blood of a lamb, it was satisfied by the blood of THE lamb.

Sacrificing animals was a symbol, pointing to the death of Jesus. The Passover was a symbol, pointing to Jesus. The Old Testament is filled with stories and prophesies pointing to Jesus, pointing to THAT moment in history.  The message of the entire Old Testament was coming to fruition over the next 3 days. The entire New Testament was written because of what was about to happen. The entire Israelite nation was formed because of this man and this moment. Jesus was telling his disciples that everything about their lives, their culture, and their history was going to be fulfilled over the course of the next 3 days.

This is why I think everyone should know the Old Testament. If you skip it, you miss so much of the story!

The Story of Why Rabbits Hide Eggs on Easter


I realized I don’t ever write fun blog posts, so this is my best attempt at writing something fun… wish me luck.

As Easter approaches, I want to tell you the story about why the Easter Bunny hides Easter eggs so that you will look really smart and show all your friends how well you know history.  We all know the story about how Jesus died on the cross and on the third day rose again, marking the holiday we call Easter. What you never heard is that Jesus has an extra special affinity for chickens. Let me show you. Below are all the birds that are unclean — any other bird, including chickens are clean.

Leviticus 11: 13-19

13 “‘These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven,16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

Now, While Jesus did like chickens, everyone at the time knew that the real prize was the eggs. In fact, the law supported Jesus’ love of eggs. We can only assume that he ate them all the time.

Deuteronomy 22:6-7

“If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.

So what do we know?! Jesus liked the chickens for the eggs. Eggs are such a great food because there are so many ways to prepare them. You can have the scrambled, hard boiled, fried, poached, Benedict, etc.

You might recall from the crucifixion story that the crowd cheered and said that they WANTED Jesus to be crucified. What the authors of the Gospel forgot to tell you was that the religious leaders had spread rumors around Jerusalem that Jesus came to steal all of their eggs. The people of Jerusalem, who knew the value of eggs would not take that — hence their calls.

After Jesus was crucified and everyone was sure that he really was dead, people celebrated the salvation of their eggs. It wasn’t until Easter Sunday that people remembered that he promised that after he was killed he would be raised from the dead.

Sure enough, Easter Sunday came around, and just like Jesus said, he rose from the dead. This put all the people into panic. If Jesus was back, He was still going to steal their eggs! So everyone from Jerusalem made a plan that would keep Jesus from touching their eggs.

The teachers of religious law got together and searched the scriptures for any justification on why Jesus can’t touch the eggs. When none could be found, they made a conspiracy. While Jesus was in the grave, they would say, a miracle of sorts happened. Suddenly chickens stopped laying eggs. Now RABBITS lay eggs. Do you see the problem? Let me point it out:

Deuteronomy 14:6-7

6 You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. 7 However, of those that chew the cud or that have a divided hoof you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the hyrax. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a divided hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you.

Clever, huh? Rabbits are unclean animals; so if eggs come from bunnies, Jesus can’t take them! Word got out and all the people of Jerusalem started talking about how they couldn’t believe that we get eggs from bunnies now! They wanted to be sure that Jesus wouldn’t say that these eggs must have come from chickens because they look like chicken eggs, so all the people of Jerusalem took their eggs and colored them; some red, some blue, some yellow, some multi colored. Who has ever heard of a red chicken egg?! It must have come from a rabbit.

There was one more problem that the people of Jerusalem needed to solve before they could tell Jesus that eggs came from chickens: Jesus would still know they were chicken eggs if they were in the nest. So everyone hid their now colored eggs in their backyard. It was the perfect disguise. A bunny must have come in the middle of the night and laid these eggs, not chickens!

It’s now been 2,000 years since the egg fiasco, and yet we still hide Easter eggs every year. By now, everyone knows that eggs don’t really come from rabbits, but it is a subtle reminder for everyone on Easter Sunday to remember the holiday — for just one day a year, rabbits really do lay eggs, even if it is just for fun.

Yup, that really was my best attempt…. :-/