Update on platelets and crowns

Now that I’ve written about the big news about our roommate, I can write about the little things. 🙂 I’m glad that people were supportive of our decision to help out Kay, by the way. I was worried, for some reason.

Anyway, in other news, my temporary crown is doing just fine. I’m hoping that the permanent one is in when I go in on Friday to get my filling replaced so I can be all done with dental work for a while. But I won’t know until I get there.

Also, yesterday I went in and donated platelets again. I got a call asking me to come back in since they were desperately low. I asked about whether or not I should just donate whole blood, because of the whole O negative thing, and she said that usually, yes, they’d rather I donated whole blood, but right now, they need platelets.

So I signed up for an appointment and went in yesterday. When the lady taking down my information saw that I’m O neg, she went out to talk with her supervisor about whether or not I should do platelets or whole blood, but it turns out that my platelet count is enviably high. She didn’t actually tell me what it was, but it’s apparently lovely. So, I sat and did that again.

I brought in Undercover Blues and it took just a little bit longer than that movie, since because my count is so high, I didn’t have to be hooked up for the whole 120 minutes. It actually did end up being pretty close to that, since my vein pressure for the machine kept getting so low and she’d have to hit the button again, but it wasn’t that bad. If I’d had to be plugged in for the whole two hours and it kept stopping like that, it would have taken much longer, since the timer on the machine pauses when it errors.

They let Justin sit in the back this time, at a little table in the same room as the blood drawing, but not back where I was at. It was nicer for both of us that they let him be back there. He wants to be there in case I don’t handle the draw well, and last time he had to sit way out in the lobby. I handled it better this time, too. I didn’t get the lips tingling much and I didn’t feel nearly so wiped out afterward. We did make sure I got some snacks and fluids back into me, but it wasn’t as necessary as last time.

The recommendation that they gave me was the next time I wanted to donate, I should come in and donate platelets again and then also do red cells at the end. They just program the machine to do both things, one after the other. It’ll do the platelets for the amount of time it’s supposed to do, and then it’ll pull red cells. It’ll kick me to the 8 weeks cycle instead of the 7 days cycle, but I think it’ll be a good use of my donations. And because it’s a smaller needle for the platelets donation, I expect that I won’t get so dizzy as I do at bloodmobile donations. Also, just not sitting in that rocking bus would be great.

So I’m probably going to set that up in the next couple weeks. I don’t think I’ll have time this coming weekend, but maybe the one after that will work.

Our new roommate

I’ve been quiet for almost 2 1/2 weeks because there was a LOT going on and I didn’t have the energy to write about it. But tonight I’ve got some time so I’m going to try to catch up on some of that.

The primary news is that we are continuing the long tradition in our family of helping out people in need. A friend of ours was in a bad situation in Indiana and needed a way out. So Justin drove up there a few days before the 14th and collected her. We’ve worked it out with the apartment complex and she’s living in the other bedroom in our apartment for a little while, until she can get back up on her feet. I’m not going to go into what Kay’s story is because it’s her story and she’s very private about it. She’s also not fond of having her picture taken, so you might not ever see a photo of her. But she’s moved in here now, with the few things she brought with her from Indiana, and feeling so much relieved that for a few days there, she’d just start laughing or crying, just because she was so relieved to be out from where she had been living.

So we’re all getting used to having each other as roommates. Learning just how much water that water heater can hold. Taking turns making dinner because she also really loves to cook. Learning how we handle different emotions spilling over.

We shuffled all the furniture around in the house so she’d have a bedroom for herself. Our bed went into what had been the office. The office moved to the dining room and the living room, the dining room table actually went into Kay’s room for a while because one of the things she did manage to bring was an enormous computer and 2 monitors, but since we didn’t have an extra desk or, really, space to set up the dining room table, that’s currently living as her desk. We’ve been eating dinner around the coffee table in the living room.

So it’s taking some adjusting, for all of us. But she desperately needed somewhere to go, and we had space. She has the freedom to consider even having a future again, and we’re happy to help her get there.

And that’s the biggest thing that’s been happening! I’ll write more again soon.

Getting crowned (part 1)

I started writing this post yesterday and didn’t finish it. I’m going to post it as is for the most part –with this introduction, and then a follow-up at the end of it to close up where I’d left it yesterday. So, for the most of this, where it references a day, like “today,” it means yesterday, Tuesday.

You know how I have great and amazingly strong teeth that are resistant to cavities? I think I’ve had one cavity ever and it was because the sealant that we got put on my tooth cracked and it got underneath where I couldn’t get to it to clean.

Well, I went to a new dentist a couple weeks ago and technology here is different from where I had been going in Bluffton. Here they took a picture of my teeth, and when they did, they noticed something about my lowest, furthest back tooth on the right-hand side — it was cracked! Who knows for how long because it didn’t hurt. But it was definitely cracked down the middle of the tooth toward the back of my mouth. Forget cavities, people! My teeth just break in half! My one filling, by the way, also cracked.

So. There’s nothing to do about the tooth except for getting it crowned, so that was what I did today. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve had to have any work done on my teeth besides cleanings. The whole way through, I kept asking Dr. Ruby and her assistant Shelly, “What’s next? What does that do?” They were okay with that, though, and said that I did really well, considering how far back the tooth was located in my mouth.

You’re probably all familiar with the process, but I’d never had one done before. And I’m sitting here now, numb up to my ear with a tongue too big for my mouth, trying to not think about it too much because it’s already aching and I’m not looking forward to what it’s going to feel like when it stops being numb. So I’m writing in the hopes that it’ll keep my mind off of things.

I might be going about this the wrong way….

Anyway, for anyone who hasn’t ever had a crown done before, the hygienist, Shelly, brought me back and took an x-ray of my tooth — which starts us out uncomfortable already because I have a short little mouth and sticking those films in there to get the x-ray is really hard and it hurts. But she gets the shot she needs and does some poking and honestly, I can’t even remember everything. But eventually she took a couple different types of putty and a mold and has me bite down on it to take a mold of my tooth for later. I’m pretty sure this is going to head to the labs so they can make a permanent mold for my tooth.

Anyway, Dr. Ruby comes in and does a few tests with a piece of gauze that’s been sprayed with a thing that’s really cold to make sure that the nerve in my tooth isn’t dead. She tests a few teeth to make sure that they get cold and then tests the back tooth and it doesn’t really get cold on the side, but on the top, it DEFINITELY gets cold. So the nerve is fine and I don’t need a root canal. YEA!

So she numbs me up and that’s the part that’s bugging me the most right now because she did it once, came back and did a secondary one, which she said she normally does, and then later on, because I was still feeling cold where she was working, she numbed me up a third time. And now? I can’t feel my ear on my right hand side. And halfway down to my shoulder. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I honestly am numb up to my ear. It’s uncomfortable.

But I’m sure it’s better than it’s going to be once I get feeling back because I can already tell I’m going to be ACHING.

Anyway, she numbs me up, lets it take effect, and then starts filing down my tooth. So there’s me, leaning back in the chair, with the dentist on one side grinding my tooth down and her hygienist on the other side with the suction and holding my tongue out of the way and I’m sitting there counting seconds to try to distract myself from how uncomfortable my mouth is getting and I need to swallow because there’s water in the back of my throat and I’m having trouble breathing through my nose because of the angle of my neck but there’s no way I’m breathing through my mouth right now. And I’m thinking, “Really, could we make this even more complicated?!”

All told, though, it wasn’t horrible. I’m uncomfortable, but Dr. Ruby and Shelly were very nice and very good at what they were doing, as far as I could tell. They put up with all my questions and explained things to me every time I asked.

And I have to put this on pause for right now because we’re heading to our chiropractor appointment.


Following up now, the day after. I started getting the feeling back in my mouth while we were at the chiropractor’s office. In fact, I started getting feeling back in my tongue on the way there, enough so that I could finally locate the piece of gauze that was in my mouth but we hadn’t been able to find the three times we looked while I was at the dentist’s. Yeah, three times we looked because I said it really felt like something was still in there. And it wasn’t until 2 1/2 hours later that I found the darn thing tucked way back under my tongue.

Anyway, by the time we got back home around 8:00, I had all but the smallest part of my bottom lip back. And the pain wasn’t that bad. I took some Advil and ate some ice cream, but mostly it was just sore from being open for so long. I got to the appointment at 2:00 and I left at 5:00. There was a lot of “Okay, now we have to let that take effect” and “Now that has to harden for a few minutes” so it wasn’t like my mouth was open the whole time. But it was still a lot of having my mouth open.

My temporary crown is fitting just fine, if a teeny bit high. My gums are still tender around it and not quite sitting the way they’re supposed to. The place where she stuck me with the shot feels bruised and tender and unhappy. But mostly it’s my jaw muscles that are aching. I had trouble getting a spoonful of food in there because it doesn’t want to open all the way, something Justin (and Amy, I believe) are both familiar with. I’ve found if I can remember to move my jaw every little while, just to keep the muscles warmed up, then it feels better. And that clenching my jaw, like I do when I’m frustrated and stressed out, is not a good thing to do right now, but I keep on doing, unfortunately, because that’s just the way my day has gone. But that’s a story for another day.

My follow-up appointment is in 4 weeks to get the permanent crown put on. I have an appointment just before then to get my cracked filling fixed, so if it’s in by then, I’ll get a two-for-one. But otherwise, it’ll be a couple days after that.

I told Justin that we have a time-honored family tradition of having ice cream after dentists appointments. Followed by the traditional mocking of the people with numb faces as their ice cream spills down their cheeks. He thought that was a wonderful tradition, and laughed at me as I tried to eat my popsicle.

Donating platelets at the Red Cross in Savannah

Yesterday I woke up late and made a delicious complete breakfast of eggs and sausage and English muffins and orange juice. We don’t usually have such an elaborate breakfast, but I needed to have a good deal of energy for the afternoon. Justin then drove us down into Savannah to the Red Cross building. They have this tiny little building that looks like it hasn’t seen updated interior decorating for about 10 years, but I imagine that’s because the money is going toward updated technologies for the donation processes and for other more noble efforts than making their building look pretty.

Anyway, I had a 1:00 appointment to donate platelets. I’ve been donating whole blood since I was in high school, and since I’m O- (the universal donor) I do try to donate when I’m able. When I called in January to set up an appointment for donating, since my availability was coming up soon, they asked if I’d be willing to donate platelets and I said I’d give it a try.

We were about 20 minutes late because of traffic and I didn’t actually get my butt in the donating chair until just about 2:00. We had to wait in the office a little for someone to be available to take me back and then had to go through the usual screening questions and checks — blood pressure, pulse, hemoglobin, etc. Everything checked out fine (my blood pressure was a little high because I was nervous, but it wasn’t so high to make me ineligible) and the nurse sent me to use the bathroom before coming back to get hooked up to the machine — because it was going to be 2 hours before I’d be able to move again.

The process for donating platelets is very different from donating whole blood. With whole blood, they stick a needle in your arm and you sit there until you’ve filled up a pint bag with blood. They bandage you up, give you snacks, and send you on your way.

With platelets, they hook you up to a machine that pulls your blood in, separates out the platelets, sticks the platelets in a bag and then sends the rest of the blood back into your arm. And it takes two hours. So you sit in this chair, being very careful not to move the arm with the needle in it because if the needle moves and the blood returning back to your arm doesn’t go back into the vein, then it’s going under your skin and that’s REALLY not comfortable. But as long as you don’t mess up and move, then it’s really super easy. They gave me headphones and a remote control to the TV and asked if I wanted to watch a movie. And I sat there watching the show and making a fist every time the machine said “draw” to keep the pressure up on my vein while it was pulling the blood out, and then relaxing when it said “return” and was sending the blood back. It was a long time sitting still and my butt was numb by the end, but otherwise, at the end of the two hours, I didn’t feel that badly.

I’ve had some trouble with donating whole blood lately — mostly psychologically, we figure — getting lightheaded and feeling a little bit faint. With the platelets process, I got cold because the blood returning wasn’t as warm as it had been when it left, and some tingling of my lips and a metallic taste in my mouth sometimes. That’s mostly because of the anticoagulant, I think they said, and it went away pretty fast after I was done. They offered me Tums, which apparently would help, but I never found it that bothersome.

Justin said my color was off when I got back out — he had to sit in the lobby the whole time, poor guy. He said I was pretty pale, so we got me some juice and snacks before leaving and then got me some hot chocolate and a hamburger on our way out of town, and by the time we got home, I was feeling a little tired, but otherwise not much effected by the whole thing.

And if I wanted, I could do it again next Saturday because you can donate platelets every 7 days.

I’m not sure if I’m going to do that, though. Partially because it’s a long time commitment; I think, all told, it was about 4 hours for us, including drive time. And while platelets are in strong demand because they have a shorter shelf life than whole blood and are important to cancer patients and burn victims, and it takes several donations of whole blood to filter out the same number of platelets, I’m not sure if it’s the best use of my ability to donate. Specifically because of the fact that I’m O-. It might be better for me to donate whole blood because it has more usability for people in need of whole blood. I need to do more research and try to figure out what is the best option for me.

Justin and I were talking about it in the car on the way home and theorized that it’s probably going to come up as a situation where one isn’t significantly better than the other. If I could commit to the time to donate platelets every week or if I could donate whole blood every 8 weeks, it’s something important to do either way. And without knowing the specific needs for the area where we live, it’s going to be impossible to really know what’s most needed, platelets or whole blood.

So maybe what I’ll do is if my donation cycle for whole blood has an extra week in between, then during that extra week, I can donate platelets and then the week after that, go donate whole blood. I’m still working out the details.

But it was an interesting experience and I thought it would be interesting to share.

The New York Blood Center put together a quick video of what it’s like to donate platelets and I’m going to throw that in here, too, so you can see what it looks like and stuff.

And I just wanted to plug this — if you’re able to donate blood or platelets, I think you really should be doing so. It’s one of those things that we can’t make in the lab and it’s an important, life-saving thing that doesn’t cost anything to give except time. Not everybody is able to do it, so those of use who can, I think, should.

Things that I’ve been doing

It’s Friday afternoon! I worked part of today to make up for lost time on Wednesday. I have some sick hours that I could use, so I didn’t get my full 40 hours in of work, but I’ll still get a full paycheck, which is nice. And not working the whole week has helped me calm down some, too, and not be quite so stressed out.

Our chiropractor appointment is in a few hours, so Justin is still working — there’s something weird going on with the checkout function on the website he hosts for a client and he’s trying to figure out why it’s happening. So once again I’m in the living room where I’m less of a distraction so he can concentrate. 🙂

Last night we watched an episode of Agent Carter, which is the mid-season break show happening in the S.H.I.E.L.D. timeslot. Not that we really care where it’s on or when because we watch it on Hulu. But it’s a fantastic show following Agent Peggy Carter, who was in the first Captain America movie and then had a Marvel short film about her and she is, in a word, AWESOME. She kicks butt and takes names, all while looking fabulous in her 1950’s bright red fedora in a black and white men’s world. This week’s episode was one of the best so far. If you’re at all into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you should be watching this show. And then S.H.I.E.L.D. when it comes back on again, too — it had a slow start, but the current season has been fantastic.

In other TV related news, because I’m really short of interesting things to chat about today, we’ve been watching Arrow, which is based on DC comics (traitorous, I know), and is also very good. Justin and I watched the first one or two together and then I got busy with other stuff and he got tired of waiting for me and sped through all of season one. But then I started watching them on my own in bursts of about 4 – 6 in a sitting (it’s winter and it’s dark outside), so he stopped and waited for me to catch up. We watched the season one finale on Wednesday when I was home and now we’re working our way through season two. It’s a fun show, but with some really glaringly obvious plot problems. Seriously, any normal family would have figured out what was going on with their son/brother/our hooded hero by now. It is a fairly violent show sometimes — it’s basically Batman with arrows — but it’s witty and Felicity is pretty much the best thing in the whole show.

And the other show we’re watching is The Legend of Korra, the Nickelodeon series following Avatar: The Last Airbender. This one is a cartoon and runs about 20 minutes each; on days I come home for lunch, we can sit down and watch this for our break. But as the episode today exampled very well, it is not exactly a kids show. There have been some very serious things happening and I’m not sure little kids would be prepared for that. As adults, it’s been a great show, though. We just finished season one on this show, too, and starting season two next week sometime.

I’ve also been reading, not just watching TV. I’m in the first quarter of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s interesting, but NOT a very quick read. In fact, I couldn’t actually tell you much about the book and I’ve read more than 100 pages. There’s research studies about how people behave in different situations and how different people relate differently, but other than interesting research that’s a little complicated to get into, there’s not much to tell. I’ve found some interesting bits to relate to work and why the way I react to things (like the noise in the office) makes sense and all. So I’m going to keep working my way through, but it’s slow going.

And besides TV and reading, I’m also trying to finish up Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy on the 3DS (it’s a Nintendo handheld game, in case anyone didn’t know). I think I’ve been playing this game for about a year now and I should probably just finish it up. It’s a puzzle game, so I go to different places and meet different people and they give me puzzles to solve and work through the story line. Currently, I’m on a hunt to find 5 artifacts that will . . . do something that I can’t remember right now. It’s been a year since they said what it was for. I think it opens a door somewhere…. I’ll figure it out soon. I’ve got three of the pieces and I’m working on finding the fourth.

So yeah. That’s what I’ve been doing. Have you read or watched or played anything interesting lately?