A Reminder to Give and the Return of Ivy

Ivy had to come back on Tuesday.   

The oral antibiotics simply weren’t strong enough to battle what’s left of the infection and I started to feel sick all over again.  It was like a very mild, diluted version of “sick” that first took me down.  So Rexall Specialty Pharmacy (holler!) brought me another pump and carry bag as well as all of the other gizmos and doodads that go with it.  I actually hooked up the tubing, primed the pump and started the infusion on my own.   Had I waited, it would have been almost a full day before a nurse could come to get me started.  Heck, I watched her do it enough times.  It wasn’t as easy to accomplish with just one hand but I pulled it off…or put it on, in this case.  So Ivy will be my BF again for only a week.   I was kind of pissed about it until I started to feel better, which happened fairly quickly.  So welcome back, ol’ pal.

Until I was recently asked to recount my sepsis ordeal I had almost forgotten that I was the recipient of blood products during my stay at UH.  As they searched for a source of my sepsis my blood was deemed too thin to withstand certain testing, such as a spinal tap.  They decided to thicken it up by giving me transfusions of “fresh frozen plasma”.  That’s how they say it too; never just “plasma”.  It’s always the full name: fresh frozen plasma. 

After you hear it for a few hours from a few different people it starts to sound like a smoothie or a frozen treat!  But it’s the fluid portion of human blood that has been frozen solid within 8 hours of donation.  It’s a bit yellow in colour and, indeed, has to be thawed before it can be administered. This decision was made while I was at my worst, in the ER, in and out of consciousness, and it seemed to take forever between signing the consent form and actually hooking the stuff up.  After two bags they tested my blood and decided it was still too thin so they gave me one more.  I felt nothing.  The spinal tap went perfectly and there was no residual bleeding.  Thank you fresh frozen plasma!

After I got home from the hospital I received in the mail a letter about the transfusions.  They reminded me that I had given my consent, that they have a rigorous screening process for donated blood and gave me reference codes for each plasma – er, sorry, fresh frozen plasma bag I had been given.  It’s one of those pieces of paper you hang onto even though you’re 99% sure you’re never going to need it.

Receiving fresh frozen plasma was part of the master plan that saved my life at UH.  Some people freak out at the thought of receiving someone else’s blood and history has given them good reason.  But my attitude was, bring it on!  At that point in my illness, if they had said they were going to graft a rhino horn onto the bridge of my nose, my response probably would have been, “if that’s what you think is best!”

It’s amazing to me that there are people who continue to make the effort to give blood to help a stranger in a critical situation.  Thank you.  And if you’re on the fence about donating, please do it.   You truly never know when it will be needed, fresh or frozen.