Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just a Little Stick

Fingerstick that is.

So I went somewhere today.


To donate blood!

I've never done it before. It's not that I didn't want to. It just wasn't ever convenient, and then I had all kinds of excuses like tattoos and recent international travel.

And also I was kind of scared. 

But now I think being in medical school has really made me a lot more aware (shocked actually) about the need for blood. And so I decided to get over the inconvenience and the nervousness and my roommate Molly who's a blood-donating rockstar made us an appointment and off we went. 


So I got my little fingerstick to check my hematocrit and make sure I have enough red blood cells and my blood is dense enough to handle the donation. 

And then.
Nothing.

My hematocrit was only 35, but the requirement for donation is 38. 
Making a rough calculation, that puts my hemoglobin at 11.6, which in really just a baby anemia. I have a complete blood count from a couple years ago when all us students got to practice blood draws and analysis. It showed that my hematocrit was 38.9 back then, so I know it shouldn't be impossible to get it back up.

I'm pretty bummed about it, but I'm going to start being more conscious of my iron intake, start a supplement, and I learned a couple useful things relevant to me as a vegan/vegetarian to which I'd never paid attention before:

- Plant-based iron is all of a nonheme type and is harder to absorb than heme iron, which makes up 40% of the iron found in meat. That doesn't mean I need to eat meat, it just means I need to help my body absorb the iron better.
- Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. I'm thinking I could time my iron supplement with an orange. 
- Sodas, coffee, iced tea etc. sipped along with meals can inhibit the absorption, so I could try to separate my morning coffee from the food a little more. Though really that's not very likely, because my morning time's all really pretty short. 

So I'm still going to try to donate again in a while.

And that's the story of how I didn't give blood today.

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