Oh, the irony…

January 2, 2015

I have, for more than 25 years, donated blood. My own blood, by the way, if that wasn’t clear. I’ve filled the plastic bag at Puget Sound Blood Centers, in school auditoriums and in my current favorite: The Bloodmobile that shows up at the Newcastle Y every eight weeks or so.

Yes, it can sometimes be a bit time-consuming, which is why I was elated when I opened the PSBC website and saw a large button that said, “Donate online!” For a nanosecond I pondered how it might be accomplished — Via USB port? Would one need broadband? — and then I realized that they had yet to find a way to siphon my blood over the ethernet, but instead were seeking monetary donations.


The Sainted One gives plasma, and his blood type is such that it mixes with all other types, which means that his plasma is as coveted as Seahawks season tickets at the 50-yard line. When he’s due for a session we get a persistent but pleasant phone call a day from a volunteer until he books it. He gets his own TV and blanket while he donates.

Admittedly, I do get cookies and a choice of drinks when I’m done, so it’s not as if my needs are ignored. I always choose V8 because it makes me feel like I’m replenishing what I’ve lost. They have yet, however, to stock the little bottles of vodka that I keep requesting.

But something has begun to mess with my desire to donate. My iron levels are sometimes not high enough for giving. For a quarter of a century I’ve had the right stuff, and even though I’m not eating differently, and even though I love kale, spinach, seafood, a good steak and Almond Roca, my numbers have gone down. According to the folks at the PSBC, that’s not unusual, especially for women. And according to my doctor, my levels are not “low” by medical standards, so there’s nothing to treat.

So here’s where I take a moment to apologize to the white-coated PSBC technicians who prick my finger to get the blood drop for the iron test. I sit in the tiny room that feels eerily like a Catholic church confessional, and because I believe in mind over matter, I will chant in my head: “Be the iron. Be filled with lots of iron,” and then I’ll wait breathlessly for the result. And here’s why I apologize: Because when I don’t pass, I swear like an inebriated longshoreman in spite of all attempts to amicably shrug and say, “OK. Maybe next time.”

The Bloodmobile will probably be rolling around again in January. I am now taking a 65mg iron tablet a day. I’ll show them, those #!!?#?##!!!


You can reach Pat Detmer — who will give her signed book to anyone who donates at the Newcastle Y Bloodmobile for the first time in his or her life — at www.patdetmer.com.