Here’s another “Diary of an Unemployed Dude” story–Very Rough! just a sketch right now
The blood sample will determine how hydrated you are, so I always drink two pints of water before donating plasma so I’m not turned away for insufficient water funds. The six mile bike ride to the clinic is hot, sweaty, so I drink extra for those droplets I’ll sweat out. I also eat chorizo and eggs with bacon and ham because eating a high protein breakfast is claimed to help replenish your plasma–though I’m not positive that isn’t just the pork lobby’s position.
The first time you donate, there is a lengthy screening process, 3-4 hours, to ensure that your blood isn’t rotten and you aren’t a heroin gulping gigolo who sucks dick for bus money. Luckily, I only suck dick for Uber money, so I’m good.
I give them three vials and one straw sample of my blood. The first time I gave the straw sample, the same little prick as a TB test, I unfortunately did it on my left hand so I couldn’t play guitar for a week without tearing open the tiny hole. After the vampires confirm its tastiness, I proceed to a counselor’ s office for an interview: “Do you have AIDS.”
Oh shit, I know this one…”Ummmm, no! No I don’t.”
“Are you sure? You hesitated there a bit.”
“Uhhhh, pretty sure, yeah. I’m mean I’m not dead or anything. That’s gotta be a no-go on the AIDS then, right?”
“You wouldn’t necessarily experience symptoms in the first few months. Have you been recently tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections?”
“Not really. I don’t like to get tested cause it just reminds me of how long it’s been since I got laid. But last year my regular doctor ran some blood-work and everything came back clean. I don’t think I’ve sexed anyone up since then. But don’t tell anybody.”
“Well if you haven’t had sex in the last six months, our tests would pick it up.”
I whispered, “Yeah, it’s definitely been at least six months since I had some sex. Don’t tell anyone, though”
I continue to explain that I haven’t been to Africa, injected crack, worked on a farm, or had sex with an animal in at least two weeks. The counselor checks my arms and legs and feet for track marks, then I put my clothes back on. There is an organic side benefit to giving plasma: Anyone who’s poor enough to donate plasma for $20 cannot afford to see a doctor, but this screening of my body and health is far more thorough than any I’ve even gotten from my doc.
To ensure that I haven’t been tattooed in the past year, the counselor catalogs the location and design of each of my tattoos. Left inner forearm–The Giving Tree; Right leg–book and vine with words, “To live, is to be slowly born”; inside of bottom lip–travel toothbrush (so I can tell my dentist I brush my teeth everyday). She gets to my left bicep and asks, “what is that?”
I answer, “It’s a skateboarder. ”
She disagrees, “No it’s not. What is it?”
I volley back, “Yes. It is. It’s from a book by Austin-based artist Michael Seban. Growing up, before it became normal and cool, skateboarding made you an outcast, a nerd. While everyone was chasing girls and going to parties, we’d skate in the parking lot all night, so he drew the skateboarder real ugly to represent how us skateboarders didn’t fit in.”
“Ok, but I can’t put all that on this short line. You do understand that if someone does your next intake and finds anything even remotely different about any of your tattoos than what I write here, you will be banned for life from this clinic.”
“It’s a zombie.”
I sit in the waiting room for my name to be called. I have to pee, but the bathroom is behind the locked door and you aren’t allowed to leave the building once you start the intake process, less you shoot up or get a tattoo while you’re out.
Finally, I am allowed to enter the production line. I walk into the room and see a heard of humans laying in chair-beds with tubes in there arms sucking their blood. It looks like a scene from the Matrix. They only pay you $20-30 per donation, depending on your weight, but they charge hospitals hundreds. Radiolab did a great episode, Blood, which talked about the industry of blood and plasma—It’s a racket. Don’t believe those red cross people if they tell you you’re saving lives. You’re making money, for them.
The technician hands me a piece of foam to squeeze and keep the blood flowing in my arm. She sticks the needle into my arm, which hurts, but not much. The blood flows from me into there machine where the plasma, a water based solution with corpuscles and fat globules, is separated for sale on the biomarket. Once the pint glass is full, the machine returns the plasmaless blood to your vein. As the blood flows through the stainless steel needle it must pick up some of its essence because I can taste metal on my tongue and teeth.
The more blood that reenters my body, the more pain I feel until I can’t take it anymore, so I call for a nurse. She examines my arm and tells me I’ve been “Infiltrated”. This means that during the initial injection, the employee pushed the needle too far, past the back wall of the vein, so that the machine was pumping the blood, not into my vein where it belongs, but aimlessly into my flesh. It is quite painful.
After resticking me, now on my left arm, I sit watching the awful Fox News on the TV in front of me for the next hour. This is very boring, but it’s easy and the only money I can count on, selling my body, permanently, as little as the money may be. They call it Donating plasma, but I’m getting paid and so are they, so that’s a pretty far stretch if you ask me. I think, technically, they are “Donating” money to your bank account for your Time, not your plasma.
For whatever reason, everyone who works here is Slavic, though this isn’t a Slavic neighborhood. Wasn’t Dracula Slavic—I could never place his accent.
They pay you on a credit card, which sucks because, unlike the cash that they used to pay when I was in college, I get charged a usage fee each time I use the card or go to the ATM, so I’m not even getting the full $25!
Oh well, I got a little mullah in pocket, so I’m no longer a bum, no—I’m a hot twenty dollars away. Off to my Heroin Dealer! (jk mom) 😉
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to “Donate” plasma? What did I forget to mention? Any questions?