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Issues Money

I paid for groceries with plasma today.

We just got back from Lima after working a few jobs out of town. Despite the money that Dan and I had just made, we found later that night that we would still be short of what we needed for the month. (Stupid medical bills.) The next morning, I decided to gather my courage and plan a trip to my local plasma donation center. I needed to get some cash quickly.

I had driven by the place every now and then, and I always thought about trying to donate for some extra cash, but the reputations of these centers weren’t always squeaky clean. I decided to do my homework the night prior to my first visit there to make sure everything was legit.

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The donation center I visited in Toledo.

CSL Plasma had opened their 150th center in Toledo, and it just happened to be the closest one to me. After a quick Google search, I checked their website and gathered the information they needed before I arrived, which was my state-issued ID, my social security card, and proof of residency. (I brought a piece of mail with me that had my name with my current address.)

When I walked in, the center appeared to be pretty clean, almost sterile-like. It was actually pretty empty when I arrived that morning, and I had to get the attention of a technician to start the donation process.

The process for a first time donor was lengthy and exhaustive.

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I can only imagine this thing that the techs wear is to prevent themselves from getting blood sprayed in their face.

First, I had to read a sort of packet that laid out the donation/compensation terms more specifically and warned of any risks or side-effects that could occur during and after the procedure. Then, I had to watch a video that covered almost the exact same thing in the packet I had received, and it went on for several minutes.

Afterward, I was directed to a booth where I privately answered 62 questions about my health history to ensure I was a good candidate for plasma donation. My thumbprint was scanned, and my photo was taken. I would use these two things as my ID verification later on for future visits. I was given a prepaid card in an envelope and a donor ID number, and this card would be loaded with cash after each successful donation.

They made sure to note that if a donation was not successful, I would not be compensated.

Once that part was complete, I entered another booth area where my blood was screened. My plasma was tested for levels of protein, lipids (fat), and some other stuff. They took my weight, temperature, and blood pressure. I passed the tests with flying colors. After this, I went to another private room for a physical. It was after this, I was able to sign the actual consent form that I was notified of in the packet I had received.

The whole screening process took about 30 minutes or so.

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I couldn’t take pictures inside of the actual facility, but this is what the machine looks like.

Now that I had signed the consent form and I had been cleared to go onto the donation floor, I was finally ready to donate plasma. I waited for a few minutes before a technician waved me over to a recliner-like chair. An apheresis machine sat on a table next to me, which would separate my blood from my plasma, and then return my red blood cells with some saline solution and some anticoagulant to my body. (Which prevents blood from clotting.)

I was asked if I had anything to eat or drink maybe twice before going to the donation floor, and I did eat about a cup of oatmeal with some cinnamon and sugar, some dried plums, and a piece of toast with butter. I had a glass of water with breakfast. They seemed a bit concerned but nonetheless had okayed me for the donation process.

Around me were others who were already having blood collected, trying to stay occupied as the machines whirred around them. Some looked nervous, others were unfazed and looked like regulars. There were young and old alike with me on the floor and one guy who came in even admitted that he had lost his job and had become homeless. These were all people like me who were hurting for cash, and hopeful for a decent payout.

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What a donation floor looks like. (Photo credit: mlive.com)

The technician was friendly and took the time to explain to me what everything was, what the machine would do, and what to watch for during the collection. The needle went in with no issue (a big deal for me since I have deep veins), and shortly after I started to see the blood go through the tubes and into the machine. I started to see the plasma separate and collect into a separate container, which I thought was pretty neat to watch.

Unfortunately, I started to become lightheaded and dizzy only after a few minutes. I guess I was losing blood too quickly… again. I had warned the tech that I would try not to pump my hand too much to get blood to the machine, or this sort of thing would likely happen. This had happened to me previously while donating blood in high school, and I had blacked out and woke up with everyone hovering over me and freaking out because of how fast it had happened. It was not pleasant.

I notified the staff and two techs immediately came to me with ice packs. One raised my legs high while the other checked on my machine and IV. They stayed with me until I started to feel a bit better. At least this time, I was prepared to avoid that from happening to me again.

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My arm after the visit. They really wanted to make sure this was tight enough.

Another tech came over to document everything that had happened. She informed me that I would be paid $50 for today’s visit. I guess I was fortunate to give just enough plasma to get paid – which was what looked like nearly a pint of plasma. Weaksauce.

The whole donation this time ended up taking about an hour and a half of my time, including the screening process. I was also informed that the screening process would be shorter after my second visit.

The staff at CSL Plasma said that I could donate twice a week and earn up to $400 a month if I chose to stick with that kind of donation schedule. However, the American Red Cross provides a guideline for plasma donations and only recommends to donate once every 28 days, or 13 times a year. This was quite a discrepancy, and it kind of disturbed me.

Still, I managed to walk away this time with $48 in cash (leaving $2 on the card for fees). This would allow me to get groceries for the next week while we wait for the next payday. I only felt a bit fatigued for an hour or so after the donation, but I’m happy to report that I’m feeling a bit better after some lunch and a short nap.

Has anyone else had experiences donating plasma for cash? I would appreciate any tips to make a future visit go smoother.

 

 

Categories
Issues Love Marriage Parenting

How to love your political opposite.

Guys, I’ve been wanting to post something like this for a long time now, but I am so nervous showing you what you’re about to read – go easy on me!


I remember waking up in the middle of the night after voting earlier that Tuesday morning. Not on purpose, just to see where the heck my husband was when it was so late. It was about 2 am. I dragged myself out of bed to see if he had fallen asleep on the couch again while playing Xbox.

When I entered the living room, I found he was on his computer, happily clicking away at another video game. I looked up at the TV. The news was streaming live. I was amazed that the whole thing was still going on so late. As I watched the results come through the screen, I suddenly felt nauseous.

I grabbed Dan’s attention to the screen, and we caught the final moments of the 2016 presidential election together. We even held hands. It was going to be a defining moment in history, regardless of who won. We could feel the tension seeping through the TV screen.

And then about a half hour later, it was final. News networks started frantically reporting that Clinton had called Trump to concede defeat. The election was over. Trump had won.

I stared blankly at the screen, completely devastated. It felt like I had just witnessed something apocalyptic happen to the entire country, like a nuclear bomb or something. Everyone I saw reporting was shellshocked. Early polls had predicted Hillary as the winner of the election. The news of her defeat came as a complete surprise. Even if it was a very close call.

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The uncertainty that followed the election results caused stocks to plummet that night.

“Are you okay?”

Dan must have noticed how horrified I was. I couldn’t even answer him. My eyes just kind of teared up and I had slumped over in a depressed heap.

“Do you want to get Taco Bell?”

See, this is why I married my husband. He knows the way to my heart.

As we made our way to Taco Bell at 3 in the morning, we finally revealed to each other who we had voted for – I had voted for Hillary, and he had voted for Trump. It was funny how our own household had become a decent representation of the country that night, almost evenly divided.

(Let me enter here that I did not like either candidate. I just didn’t like Trump more.)

And now just over one year later, we’re still here. Not divorced, not hating each other. Happily ever after. The end. Right? If anything, our marriage has become even stronger and more open than ever before!

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gesture during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

See, I knew from the start that Dan and I had some pretty stark differences in politics due to our own experiences and beliefs we held. We don’t disagree on every issue, and we are not one side or the other. We’re kind of in the middle of the whole political spectrum, with opposing viewpoints on topics like immigration, healthcare, etc. We choose to love each other anyway, unconditionally.

I’m actually kind of nervous putting this kind of dysfunction of ours out here for people to read, considering how polarized things have become lately. But I feel it is necessary to discuss since it seems like people just cannot seem to get along these days. I cringe every time I scroll through social media, watching debates devolve into name-calling, nasty fights that compel mutual friends and their friends to unfollow and block each other.

You may have noticed that I have been MIA for a bit here. (Sorry guys!) That’s because my evenings for the last week have been spent with my husband discussing the recent developments of the Florida school shooting that took place recently. This was something that would impact us and many other families. Do we send PJ to public school with this kind of threat present? Should we try homeschooling to keep her safe? Not to mention all of the political debates we engaged in, but I decided to take a break on the blog to discuss this with Dan. This issue was important to both of us.

(We also had a huge number of jobs come in, and I’m not about to pass on some earning opportunities!)

I don’t need to say who said what here, but we disagreed on how to handle it, discussions got emotionally and politically charged, and a few small fights ensued. (Don’t worry, we’ve kissed and made up since!) We will both always choose love for each other over silly things like politics. When stuff like this happens regularly, it’s no wonder that more than 1 in 5 American millennials reported knowing couples whose marriages and relationships have been negatively impacted since the 2016 election. More than 1 in 10 of all Americans have even ended a relationship due to political differences. 

Still, I wanted to share my experience in hopes of helping anyone else out there in a similar predicament. Heck, if this can help anyone else out there get along with someone who may be having trouble getting along with someone else about touchy things like politics, then this post will not be shot down with fiery arrows from possible trolls/haters in vain.

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1. You don’t have to AGREE, just UNDERSTAND.

There are just some things that my husband and I will never ever ever EVER agree on. And this is okay! As long as we can understand why and where each of us is coming from, it can make it easier to forgive, accept, and move on to something else if the argument gets too heated. Simply agreeing to disagree helps bring some closure to the discussion.

For example, Dan likes to eat instant ramen straight out of the package. To me, this is gross and barbaric, even with my college survival stories. I still love him, though.

People have experiences in their own lives that cause them to have some strong emotional reactions, and these can shape our beliefs over time. It’s important to understand while it is okay to accept one’s experience and acknowledge that it is valid, it is NOT okay to use said experiences to cancel out or invalidate the another person’s experience that could have been different from our own. Don’t try to disprove the other points made or *important* change the other’s beliefs! If changing people’s minds was that easy, we wouldn’t have this kind of political divide here in the first place.

Remember, listen to understand here, not just listen to respond.

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2. Remember that you’re still talking to a human being.

Sometimes, my feelings will get in the way and I will end up collapsing in a balled-up, angry-crying heap. There are issues out there that I feel affect me more than others, and are more important and relevant in my life. When my views towards those issues get challenged, it can feel like an attack against me and/or my own experiences that back up those views, like they weren’t real or believable. I also have to remember that Dan has his own views and biases too, and I should treat him with respect during one of those kinds of conversations. If either one of us starts to get heated over the topic, we take a break to collect ourselves and try again later.

Sticking to facts (not ones found on a meme) can help keep the strong emotions out of the debate, and help both of us approach the topics with a cooler head, and help keep a logical mindset. If we end up losing our cool with each other, we forgive and move on.

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On a coffee break in Tiffin, OH at Sabaidee Coffee House.

3. Return to common ground (or find a common enemy).

OK, things got a little heated after a politically charged argument, and now things are awkward.

How’s about a beer and some pizza? Or maybe some Taco Bell? On the night of the election, we decided to come together with some Quesaritos and face the bathroom woes down the road together.

Again, it’s okay to not agree with every single thing in the world. I will acknowledge here that it is easier to hate than to forgive sometimes. But instead of stewing over your loved one’s flawed statements, find something else to hate together! For example, Dan and I hate most country music songs. That is something we can agree on. Better yet, our mutual love for all things pizza can move mountains.

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Straightforward. I like it.

4. Keep sacred things… well, sacred.

In other words, there are times where you should just not even bring up any prior discussions on gun control. Like at a funeral. That one should be obvious.

Other times, it’s not so clear. Perhaps designate dinner time to be politics-free. Don’t try to talk to them through the bathroom door, either.

Or recognize that maybe your spouse doesn’t want to talk about the Women’s March while trying to binge their favorite Netflix show before they have to go to work.

Just pick your battles, people.

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We both agree that our daughter should be able to think critically and be able to talk openly about her own views in the future.

5. Keep in mind what matters most and stay curious.

If anything, I’ve learned to keep an open mind and question my own biases from time to time. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes (quite literally!) can help me understand why they feel the way they do and can be a great learning opportunity. Dan’s parents own a business and have faced their own challenges that come along with that. After putting myself on a job site with them and experiencing those challenges with them, I can better understand the possible perspectives that a business owner could have.

I also like to think that being able to amicably disagree with my own husband also sets a good example for our daughter. She will be influenced by how we react to each other with tough questions and situations, but we do our best to not impose any of our own views on her. We want her to challenge herself and think critically on her own as she gets older.

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6. Take care of yourself.

Politics are only one thing in life that can be unpleasant to deal with. If it gets to be too much, I strongly recommend turning off the computer or putting down the phone and then go do something fun for a while. Being around so much negative and depressing news 24/7 tends to suck the life right out of us.

Dan and I have both agreed that we’ve had a bit too much to handle lately, and to fix that, we’re planning a mini-vacation in the near future where we can go camping and not have to interact with people for a few days. There’s absolutely no shame in retreating away from everything once in a while to recharge your own batteries.

We know we won’t be around forever, anyway. We’ve got to enjoy life as much as we can before we can’t anymore!