Donating Plasma

With my slightly misshapen heart it’s not a good idea for me to reduce my red blood cell count by donating blood.

Fortunately, I can still donate a different way.

There are three different parts of your blood that are separated out after you donate, red blood cells that carry oxygen, platelets that clot injuries, and plasma which is the actual liquid part of your blood.

Good news for me, most anyone can donate each of these blood components individually!

Red blood cell donations are out for me. That’s why I’m staying away from whole blood donations in the first place.

I have enough platelets for myself but when the clinic tested my levels they said I don’t have enough to donate to other people.

That leaves plasma.

When I went to the clinic for a plasma donation all the preliminaries were the same, heart rate, blood pressure, hemoglobin levels, and check the arms for signs of intravenous drug use. One additional test was checking my body weight to see how much plasma they wanted to draw out.

I laid down at the donation cradles like I would for a whole blood donation, but instead of getting hooked up to a little bag I got hooked up to a dishwasher sized machine.

It also makes a sound like, "WHHHRRRRRRR."
It also makes a sound like, “WHHHRRRRRRR.”

The machine draws blood out of a donor, separates out whatever blood component they are donating, and then puts the rest of their blood back in.

The separation is done using a centrifuge contained in the body of the machine. The centrifuge spins really fast once the donor’s blood is inside of it. The denser blood components, red blood cells and platelets, go to the outside of the centrifuge while the plasma stays on the inside. The machine puts the plasma into collection bags and returns the leftover parts to the donor.

Each “spin” takes one minute and collects about 20ml of plasma. I was set to donate 800ml so the actual donation took about 40 minutes compared to about 8 minutes for a whole blood donation.

I read my book for a little bit while donating but then the little lap DVD players they had enticed me.

Nevermind that it was the same book that motivated me to start this blog.
Nevermind that it was the same book that motivated me to start this blog.

They had a huge selection of DVDs (~400). I requested Iron Man 2 and watched the first couple minutes of it as my donation finished.

The wind-down process of a plasma donation was exactly the same as a whole blood donation. Held my arm over my head for a minute, got bandaged up, ate some snacks, drank some water, and left. I also made an appointment for donating again in a month. Gotta finish that Iron Man movie even if it takes 4 more donations!

The aftereffects of the donation were my biggest concern. I didn’t want to get heart palpitations for weeks afterwards because of reduced red blood cell counts.

Fortunately, donating just the plasma of my blood worked out fine. I had some flutteries and felt light-headed for 24 hours afterwards, but that was all. No persistent effects, so no worries! I plan to continue donating plasma.

And of course I am obligated to encourage you to donate as well. It’s free! It’s easy! It comes with hundreds of free movies and cookies! What more could you ask for?

-GoCorral

Advertisements

Heart Problems

A couple months ago I mentioned to my wife, “After I started giving blood regularly I’ve been getting the heart flutters a lot me often.”

And she said, “Heart flutters?”

“Yeah, you know, when your heart feels like it’s beating faster for a second or two?”

My wife informed me that this was not a normal feeling and that I should go see a doctor. Big surprise to me!

I went to the doctor and she concluded that I was probably having heart palpitations. Not unusual. About one third of people have them with some frequency.

I’d been getting mine about once or twice a week, often in association with exercise.

The doctor did a bunch of tests and found two things.

  1. The right ventricle of my heart is a little bigger than it should be. The ventricle is bigger so there’s more blood in it, but it doesn’t exert enough pressure to remove as much blood as it should per beat. Since it can’t pump everything out there is a slight backflow into my heart. This small disruption in my bloodflow might occasionally be causing heart flutters.
  2. I was suffering from acute anemia, not enough hemoglobin for my red blood cells. This was due to giving blood. One of the symptoms of anemia is heart palpitations caused by my heart not getting enough blood. There just isn’t enough of the stuff in my body to keep everything working all the time.
Obviously my heart is much prettier than this.
Obviously my heart is much prettier than this.

I asked the doctor, “What do I do? This has a small risk of a heart attack and I want to control that risk as much as possible.”

She said I should avoid things that trigger the heart palpitations and if I experienced any additional symptoms of a heart attack at the same time as the flutters I should call 9-1-1 immediately.

Haven’t had any additional symptoms yet, so I’m good on that count!

Avoiding the triggers has been… difficult.

Giving blood was the biggest one. I stopped doing that.

I’d like to continue giving blood and I still have the option of donating plasma. Plasma is the actual liquid part of your blood, not the cells. Giving just that part doesn’t lower my hemoglobin or red blood cell count so I shouldn’t get anemia afterwards.

Giving Plasma by Dave Coverly

The other two things to avoid are exercise and caffeine.

Taking out caffeine was a letdown. I survived all of college without caffeine but I’d grown to like having a cup of coffee in the morning.

I still occasionally have some caffeine but I have switched to decaf or healthier low caffeine substitutes like tea. There’s been a noticeable reduction in the frequency of my heart flutters since I stopped drinking coffee everyday.

Exercise is the weird one to cut out.

I wasn’t exactly active prior to going to the doctor for this issue. I bike to lab every day and I walk my dog, but that’s about all the exercise I get. I don’t get heart flutters doing either of those things, only when my heart rate gets elevated past 140bpm (estimate).

So it’s not like my lifestyle is really changing by stopping those forms of exercise but it is a rather strange message to hear from my doctor, “Don’t exercise.”

I feel like eventually that’ll cause problems for me. I avoid heart palpitations by not exercising, but as I get older I’ll accumulate other problems that will mostly be solved by keeping to an exercise routine. But if keeping to the exercise routine causes other problems, then what do I do?

Ultimately, this is not current Isaac’s problem. This is future Isaac’s problem. He can deal with this when I have to make those sorts of decisions.

I feel healthy with the amount of exercise I’m getting now and hopefully low bpm workouts will continue to fulfill my needs in the future.

Long story short, I have some sort of heart condition, but it’s fairly common and not dangerous as long as I don’t give blood or drink caffeine every day.

-GoCorral

PS. This is also the 300th post on the site. Woohoo! Milestone!

Petar

Petar

Petar is home to about 110,000 people and is the seat of Xorian military power. The main contingent of Xoria’s army was stationed in Petar during peace time to prevent incursions from the nearby Magical Lands. The city is walled and has a large keep at the center if the outer fortifications are breached during an attack. In the case of a siege non-perishable food is stockpiled in the basement of the keep and a large staff of clerics and mages are kept in reserve to act as an infirmary and food creating service for the army and the civilians of the city.

The economy of Petar is heavily focused on supplying the army. All blacksmiths have a quota of goods they must sell to the army every month. The mages guild has so many students of battle magic that a few renegade war mages from the war mage academy in Greshen Dale have set up an illegal teaching outpost in the city. Druids in the city are coerced into using magic to enhance crop growth to feed the troops. Everybody who does not send some of their products to the Xorian military must serve a year service in the army every five years.

Almost all of the farms of Petar grow wheat and other staple crops. The military command wants all arable land to be used as best it can. A few fruits and vegetables are cultivated to provide a balanced diet for strong troops, but the populace is always complaining that there isn’t enough. Cattle and sheep are raised on the exhausted land to get wool, dairy, leather, and meat. The manure from all the animals refertilizes the tired land and every few years the grazing land will be switched with the farm land.

Petar is strategically located atop a hill in the middle of a wide plain. It is gossiped that this is the spot where Hades’ head hit the roof of Erebus when Zeus told him the conditions of his marriage to Persephone. Four months of companionship out of every year would seem ridiculous to any man, let alone an Olympian. The hill allows the Xorian army to see any approaching army for miles and gives them a defensible position once that attacking army is within bow range.

The government of Petar is headed by Duke Delor who is subordinate to King Jevaninada. The Duke does most of the administrative work and takes his orders from Commanding General Barejando when he is present in the city. Barejando is in charge of all Xorian infantry battalions on offense and defense and Petar’s police force. He is personally responsible for the defense and safety of Petar. The general has his hands full planning invasions, rooting out Persian, Rebel, and Cimmerian spies, and maintaining order. With so much to do it’s easy to see why Barejando leaves management of the civilian population of Petar to Delor.

Duke Delor is also the Dragovinian religious leader in Petar. He manages the blood drinking ceremony every week in the city’s main cathedral. Delor personally created many of the Dragovinian beasts that watch the people of Petar for any possibly seditious activity. In his free time he enjoys spying on the citizens, and if he’s lucky, ripping a suspected Rebel’s throat out. When Delor tours the city he always seems to find suspected rebels, and suspects are always found guilty.

One of the most amazing things in Petar that has most likely led to the rumor of Hades’ head bump is the extraordinarily large gold deposit beneath the hill. The gold vein was discovered many years ago by one of the kings of Xoria himself. While surveying the digging of one of Petar’s many wells the king’s sharp eyes picked out the glint of gold at the bottom of the well. That well has since turned into a mine shaft where most of the money of Xoria is minted and then taken to the current king, Jevaninada II.

-GoCorral

Nox

Nox

Nox, the jewel of Xoria, boasts a population of over 200,000 people and the largest collection of magical artifacts. The artifacts are kept at the Museum of Power in the center of the metropolis. Because of the destructive potential of these various weapons, visitors are only admitted to the museum by petitioning King Jevaninada II himself. The collection includes the Sanguine Belt of the Night Mother, the Mace of Slaughter, the Invisible Ring of Cats, the Crescent of Wrath, the Fork of Horripilation, the Ten League Boots, the Face of Gods, the Ring of Impervious, the Prismatic Blade, Sin’s Mask, the Shadowstaff, the Staff of Not, the Ring of Draconic Wizardry, the Orb of Omniscience, a Hammer of Thunderbolts, a Deck of Many Things, and a Staff of the Magi. A few more items would be in the stockpile if the king himself was not using them. The possible depredations these items could commit led to the gods themselves granting aid for their protection. Hades allowed the resurrection of Argus from the dead if he would keep his hundred eyes upon all the artifacts in the Museum of Power. The museum is one large hall with Argus standing in the center of it, eternally watching and guarding the items to make sure none of them go missing.

Nox is the capital of Xoria and is ruled by King Jevaninada II, patriarch of the Xorian royal family. While Jevaninada II’s official duties include the administration of  Nox, he is far too busy with the ongoing war between Xoria and the Alliance in Eastern Cimmeria. Daily tasks in the city are delegated to Firotoshan, one of Jevaninada’s friends from childhood with a great head for numbers. Nearly every day he can be seen leading some public works project to benefit the upper class, executing criminals, or welcoming new Dragovinians into the fold. To many citizens, Firotoshan is the symbol of Xorian oppression. The Rebels have tried to assassinate him several times, but failed in all attempts. Firotoshan was the one who suggested the practice of using Dragovinian beasts to monitor the commoners and crush dissent.

The Kingdom of Xoria began its true expansion under King Demotinira. He conquered the cities of Jeutontic and Cecilia and setup the successful colony of Petar. When Demotinira died he left his throne to his eldest child, his daughter, Tarigananata. His son, Jevaninada I, rallied the nobles of Xoria against Tarigananata, claiming that she was possessed by a demon. She was exiled and Jevaninada I took control of Xoria and Nox. He continued the expansion of the Kingdom, taking over Dradalden, Colchis, Makotako, and Semanarie. As his invasions threatened more and more of Cimmeria, the First Alliance was formed by Princess Tarigananata to reverse Jevaninada’s actions. The First Alliance took several cities and killed Jevaninada I. Jevaninada’s Amazon Queen Anajakaze took control of the growing Empire and ultimately crushed the Alliance.

During the last months of the war, Anajakaze gave birth to Jevaninada II, the son and king of Xoria. Until he turned eighteen and could take the throne, Anajakaze ruled as his regent. She continued the relentless expansion, taking over Gazeara, Danar’s Swamp, Crafterton, and Sheerzen. Anajakaze implemented a matriarchal system of leadership, placing women in positions of power to undermine the traditional patriarchy. Jevaninada II resented this system and wished to return to the old ways. Anajakaze, aware of this, did not surrender her regency when Jevaninada II came of age.

Both Jevaninada II and Anajakaze were in for a surprise. After months of insisting that his mother step down, Jevaninada II attacked her in an attempt to force her compliance with his wishes. Their battle was interrupted by the arrival of Blendegad the Reaper, vampiric red dragon. Blendegad slew the queen and drank the blood of Jevaninada II. The vampiric dragon blood mixed with Jevaninada II’s divine royal blood creating a new form of vampire, Dragovinians.

A new religion was created for Xoria, Dragoviniysm. The deity, Blendegad, and his avatar, Jevaninada II, asked for service from their subjects and the immortal status of the Dragovinian was gifted to the faithful. The matriarchal reforms were reversed. Jevaninada II spent twenty years securing his power within his own Kingdom. Then in 400 BCE, Jevaninada II mobilized the Xorian people to attack the Second Alliance city of Phoenix. After several years, the city was taken. Jevaninada II splits his time between directing activities on the front and performing his duties in Castle Xoria at Nox.

Originally all the buildings of Nox were contained within the city walls, but more and more people immigrated to the city over the years. Now less than twenty percent of Nox’s population is actually protected by the walls. The rest of the city sprawls outwards to the west and north. After a large fire within the walls decades ago the city was rebuilt with orderly straight streets. The fire also allowed the nobles of Xoria to cluster their estates around Castle Xoria in the center of Nox.

Although Castle Xoria is not as physically strong as Colchis Castle or Sheerzen, it does have the advantage of being a complete maze. Most of the inner passageways are only two or three feet across. Guests often get lost if not accompanied by a member of the castle staff or a noble. There was even one noble who was thought dead for ten years who resurfaced in the castle. He had lost his way and survived on rat flesh and moss for a decade. The problem is so severe that some visitors to the castle are sure that magic is at work.

The nearby wood is called the King’s Copse because only Jevaninada II and his guests are allowed within the forest’s borders. He goes there occasionally on hunting trips, but the copse is used for nothing else. Any who venture into it are never seen again. The wood that Nox uses for fires, buildings, and furniture is acquired from the thin Royal Forest to the northwest or imported from Makotako.

Nox’s main export is food. In the past this was sent to Persia, Scythia, or the rest of Cimmeria. With the war underway, all excess food is sent to the front to feed the troops. This is especially necessary due to the shortage within Phoenix due to the prolonged siege. Nox continues to import luxury items for the many nobles in the city. With the explosion of Dragovinianism among the nobles, rare bloods are now in high demand.

The high concentration of Dragovinians in Nox has also put a great deal of pressure upon the common people in the capital city. The nobles and others gifted with Dragovinian status don’t spend all their time drinking exotic imported blood. Usually they gain their sustenance from the weekly ceremony where citizens are forced to gather in Dragovinian churches to “donate.” Bloodletting is spread throughout the populace to prevent injury or death, but the practice remains demeaning. Coupled with the everyday depridations of the Dragovinians due to their naturally evil disposition and the people of Nox are ready to revolt. The Dragovinian beasts prevent direct action within the city, so many people have fled the city to join the Rebellion in Bigby’s Forest.

-GoCorral

Nomingburg

Nomingburg

Nomingburg is a town of 70,000 people that was settled by Halflings and remains mostly inhabited by them. No roof in the residential area is allowed to be above five feet tall. Biglings have to live on the outskirts of town, in the commercial area, or in hotels. The most famous hotel, Hotel Nomingburg, is a staggering seventy feet tall and belongs to Toto the Half-Orc. While Hotel Nomingburg is in the commercial area, numerous requests have still been made to demolish the huge building. Duke Jingo has adamantly refused all such requests.

Although Nomingburg appears like a nice, happy, Halfling town at first, it is in fact a nest for assassins. The best hired killers in the world live in Nomingburg. Ninjas, assassins, blackguards, blood mages, and even some Ix priests can be found in Nomingburg. The different guilds do not get along well with each other. More than a century ago the guilds spent most of their time assassinating each other in a desperate attempt to control the populace of Nomingburg. Power play followed power play and the situation threatened civilian life in Nomingburg as well as the structural integrity of the town itself. The blood mage’s guild had set off too many fireballs that caused a massive fire to rage through the city. The conflagration was only stopped by a combined civilian effort and the entirety of the blood mage’s guild and the blackguard’s guild using all their spell slots for create water. The chaos had to stop and one Halfling stepped forward to do it.

The Duke Jingo is a Halfling who measures at almost five feet tall. He was a philanthropist and an assassin independent of any guild before the guild wars. He was simultaneously contracted by all sides to stop the war by any means. He tricked the uncompromising dons of each guild to meet without weapons. Diplomacy ensued and Jingo was declared Duke, representative of the town, and liaison between the guilds under the conditions that he never leave the town or complete anymore assassinations.

The ninja guild has three divisions representing the three different classes that can join the guild, ninja, rogue, and monk. The ninja guild teaches reliance on one’s self instead of equipment, magic, allies, or divine entities. The main trainers are Devarel the rogue, Tichinewee the ninja, and Horho the monk. The don of the ninja guild is Hustreon.

The assassin’s guild accepts almost everything that applies for membership under two conditions. An applicant must kill someone the guild specifies, no questions asked and the applicant must be able to hit vital areas of an opponent when that opponent is distracted(sneak attack). The leader of the assassin’s guild is a Doppelganger known only as the letter R.

The blackguard guild is an organization of evil fighters who serve many different evil deities including Ares, Hades, the Plagues of man, and the Titans. The guild is extremely selective, only allowing the most qualified and depraved people into the guild. A priest of Ares, Coneharen, controls the blackguard guild and who is admitted into its ranks.

The blood mage’s guild is very small compared to the others, but just as powerful as it confines its members only to mages with far more firepower than a fighter or rogue. The blood mages are hired for large scale assassinations or something that needs to obviously be a murder. The requirements to get into the guild are more than most will bear. One must have gone to Tartaros and returned to the world of the living. This journey is not without its scars and many are entirely unwilling to do so. Very few willingly fulfill this prerequisite to become a blood mage. The don of the blood mage guild is Chinera, a Half-Elf who it is said has died an uncountable amount of times.

Nomingburg is one of the only places in the world outside of Athens where poison is legal. Almost every type is bought and sold in this city. It pisses off the nearby cities greatly as they have worked very hard to outlaw its trade only to have a city within a few days travel legalize it.

Nomingburg has an extensive sewer system to provide for its indoor plumbing. Many monsters live in the sewer system and Duke Jingo does not want to risk any of his staff in cleaning it out. Work for adventurers is readily available if they are willing to go running around in thousands of people’s filth.

Nomingburg is mainly a farming town for its financial support. The assassin’s guilds try to stay out of the civilians’ way, and will protect them as much as they can. They feel that all the work they do is really to protect those farmers. An oath is required to enter all the guilds that the person will only murder if it provides for the people. This can mean murdering evil people or giving a portion of the reward money back to the public to compensate for the death of a good person.

-GoCorral

Crux

Crux

Crux is on the east side of the Jenarild River nestled in the mountains. The surrounding land mass between the Jenarild and the Curving Stream has almost no living animals on it. Due to the lack of herbivores the plants have grown to great heights except around the city where the plant life is held back. This is due to the necromantic nature of Crux.

Crux has a population of about 11,000 living people. The rest of the population is undead. The workforce for the city is Skeletons and  Zombies for menial tasks and Ghouls and Wights for tasks that require intelligence. Almost all the people in the city have the ability to turn or rebuke undead from one class or another. This power is necessary to make an unliving servant do your bidding, unless it is intelligent and not already under orders from somebody else. A quirk of the city is that positive energy will allow control of undead in Crux instead of destroying them.

This city is made possible by the silver tower at its center. Inside at the top of the tower is a three-headed Bodak, known as the Antenator. The Antenator imposes his will upon all undead in the city to serve living people if the living people can call upon the power of Hades. Intelligent undead are affected by this to, but can resist it if they have an extremely strong willpower.

In some sense this is Hades’ city on the real world. All the intelligent undead must swear an oath to serve Hades or risk him collecting their souls for his kingdom. He hates losing any subjects unless they continue to serve him in the Material Plane. Any knowledge about rituals related to death can be easily found in the city, but not demon lore.

The buildings in the city get progressively higher as they go away from the city wall until they reach the silver tower at the center of town. It is more than five hundred feet high and reinforced with adamantine and alchemical silver. Anyone may enter the tower in an attempt to reach the top where the Antenator resides. It is said that the Bodak will answer a single inquiry or attack anyone who reaches the top based on that person’s intentions. Most wish to ask it a question about a dark ritual that cannot be found in any book, but some go to try to kill it. The many challenges on the way up have stopped everybody so far.

The Bank of Lamentation is found in Crux. It is a bank staffed entirely by Vampires. They protect the valuables put inside without question no matter what they are and collect their fees in blood or in a percentage of what is stored. The bank is guarded during the day by golems imported from Crafterton and is only open at night for withdrawals or deposits. The bank does not offer loans unless you are willing to put up souls for collateral.

There is a potion shop in the city of Crux run by the venerable lich, Vectra. Not much is know about this old specimen, but she seems to know everything about anybody who walks into her shop. It is said that she does not belong to Hades, but to herself. She is missing her left hand and eye probably from before her, “death,” or she has used them as her phylacteries. Every potion imaginable is available in the shop including some rarities from the Factory of Ideals in Crafterton. An amazing destructive spell is also sold in Vectra’s shop. It is rumored that the spell ends all life within a three mile radius of its casting. She sells the scroll of this spell to countries, kings, and other powerful people, and is willing to do a demonstration casting on the land outside of Crux for any who seems capable of paying her. The countries that are known to possess this spell are Xoria, Persia, India, and Ethiopia. None of these countries plans on invading the others.

In recent history the city of Crux has begun to move southwest. Undead work tireless, day and night, to pick entire buildings up, move them a few hundred feet southwest, then go back to bring forward another building. Rumor says that Crux will enter the Second Alliance War, but it is not yet know which side they will fight on.

-GoCorral

Carma the Cat’s Injury

I took my cat, Carma, to the vet because she had a rather large lump on her cheek.

My lumps. My lumps. My lovely kitty lumps.
My lumps. My lumps. My lovely kitty lumps.

My wife noticed the lump at the beginning of the week. I felt it on Sunday and it felt like it was only fur back then.

The lump grew as the week went on and it became clear that we needed to get her some help.

She wasn’t eating, drinking, or moving around as much as she usually does.

We made a vet appointment and I looked up her symptoms online.

While we were worried about cancer at first, her symptoms matched up with an abscessed tooth. She’s had tooth problems in the past so a tooth infection didn’t seem too far fetched.

When I took her to the vet the diagnosis was not an abscessed tooth, but just an abscess. She had an infected wound on her cheek.

Something had punctured her cheek and gone through into her mouth. There was nothing in the wound and the wound was about the size of a cat tooth so the veterinarian guessed that it was a bite from another cat.

Carma never goes outside for long enough periods of time to meet other cats. The only possible culprit is our other cat, Lucky.

They must’ve gotten into a fight and Carma got the worst of it.

The treatment for an abscess is to puncture the sac of accumulated pus and let it drain.

They did that by shaving the fur on Carma’s cheek and then poking the lump with a knife. Seems odd that you’d treat a puncture wound with another puncture, but there you go.

Carma came back from the vet with her right side covered in blood and pus. She was also quite grumpy.

Best shot I could get of Carma covered in ooze.
Best shot I could get of Carma covered in ooze.

The vet told us that Carma would clean off the blood and pus herself, which she did.

She also got blood and pus all over the blankets in our room despite giving her a towel to bleed on.

She is a lot happier now. Moving around more, eating, drinking, coming downstairs, etc.

Here's the injury after she cleaned it up.
Here’s the injury after she cleaned it up.

We’re also trying to get Lucky to be less inclined to bite her. Any tips for that would be appreciated!

Either way, Carma is on the road to recovery with twice a day antibiotics. Hopefully her summer coat will grow in and her shaved face will return to its former luster.

-GoCorral

Happy Kitty!
Happy Kitty!