Washburn's World

My take on the world. My wife often refers to this as the WWW (Weird World of Washburn)

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Location: Germantown, Wisconsin, United States

I am a simple country boy transplanted from the Piehl Township in northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee metropolitan area who came down "sout" in 1980 for college and have stayed in the area since.
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

No Inspection Today

I was unable to keep my appointment with the City of Milwaukee Election Commission this morning. I wish at times my life was more in the fat part of the bell curve so the following would be fiction.

Yesterday (Wednesday), I agreed to a matched platelet donation for the SE Wisconsin blood center. The significance of the matched donation is that I was called because my blood work already matched a patient who needs platelets. Most likely cancer, AIDS or organ transplantation has compromised the immune system of the patient to whom I match. The donation portion of this takes about 90 to 100 minutes.

I arrived at about 2:45 and within 20 minutes was on the chair about to be stuck for a stranger. With the needle about 6 inches from my arm, lightning strikes nearby. The lights flicker and all the platelet machines reset and alarm. While we are looking perplexed a second lightning strike flickers everything again.

The staff asks: "Can we postpone this? We would not like for that to happen in the middle of your donation."

I am thinking yes, postponement sounds good; perhaps even cancellation. As an ex-electrical engineering student at MSOE, I did not like the idea of being connected to an electrical device by tubes filled with viscous salt water (blood) and a metal needle in my vein. I found out later that the staff's concern was that any platelets in the machine would be contaminated or damaged if the machine resets.

I am thinking lightning to the vein. They are thinking spoiled donation.

After the storm seemed to have quieted a bit, I was willing to go for it. It is a matched donation. I almost have the staff convinced to go for it. The platelet lady is on the phone with the main center on 18th street to see if there are any other matches for this patient. Just how acute is the need for my platelets? As she is speaking, the power goes out. Everything is dark and no phones.

Even worse the backup power did not kick in. I was the only donor in the facility. But, the backup power is supposed to kick in to keep the refrigerators working. I decided at this point, in for a penny in for a pound.

About the time I should have been leaving the center (4:30) the power is back on, the weather channel looks good, and there are no other matches in the system at this time for the target patient. We are a go. I move to a new chair since the first chair has contaminated tubing in it from the power problems.

I am comfy. Koss headphones are on. The Sci-fi channel is on the direct TV. And, she missed the vein in my left arm. I suggested taking the needle out and try again. This is a matched donation. But, I must admit there was a not-so-small voice at this time asking: Are you really meant to donate today?

No second chance on the left arm though. There is policy of only one stick per arm. I move to a 3rd chair. The second set of tubing is contaminated with blood. Not much. But the blood center is fastidious about all things blood.

I am still the only donor in the place. So they agree to let a particular nurse of the 6 present try for a vein in my right arm. I guess she is the most skilled with a needle. Anyway, this insertion went better than nearly any other I can remember. I donate without further incident.

With all this weirdness my 2.5 hour donation took nearly 4.5 hours. With the transit to and from my employer I called it an even 5 hours.

Because of my Wednesday donation I canceled my Thursday appointment this morning with the City Election Commission. I needed to make up for lost time.

Who ever heard of weather-related donation problems? Like I said life in the tails of the bell curve can be strange.


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