Well, that was interesting. I had an appointment to give blood this morning at 8:15. The donation itself went quite well: normally I have to have two different tests to see if I have enough red blood cells to donate whole blood, but today I passed on the first one; the person with the needle did a fine job; and the blood flowed at a good pace. However, my blood pressure before donating was pretty low, which is typical for me, but still low enough (96/54) that the guy took it twice just to be sure. This should have been A Sign.
I did feel a touch woozy when I got up, but I had a juice and some cookies and felt about the same as I usually do after donating. So I walked back to my office (maybe a half-block) and took the elevator up to the third floor as usual. Picked up my mail, and took the stairs to the fourth floor, again as usual—thinking absolutely nothing of it. Got to my desk, and noticed that my heart was pounding kind of hard. "Hmm," I thought, "I'm pretty tired. Well, I did wake up earlier than usual this morning. I'll feel better after I replace some of those fluids." So I picked up my water bottle and headed down the hall to the water cooler.
There's five offices between my office and the room with the cooler. Around about the second office, I felt a hot buzzing in my ears, I lost the edges of my vision, and I felt my legs get a touch shaky. I stopped, put my hand on the wall, and decided that it was even more imperative that I get water; besides, it was almost as far back to my office as it was to the water.
Another step or two, and either my knees or my ankles went. Whichever it was, I found myself on my hands and knees on the floor in the hallway. Those of you who have never fainted, allow me to say: that whole vision-darkening thing? Not a cliche. I don't know if I completely lost consciousness, but there was a period of time when I could hardly see—or hear—anything over the deep unhappiness of my body at walking around with insufficient stuff in its blood vessels.
Sometime in there I found myself sitting on the floor; an interdeterminate time after that I got to my feet, somehow, and very slowly made my way back to my office. Where I sat down hard in my chair and spent a long time sitting with my forehead on my desk. Once my vision was moderately clear, I got my boss to walk me to the bathroom, where I passed a good hour lying on the couch and drinking about 40 ounces of water. Actually, I drank the water in about twenty minutes and then spent another twenty minutes nauseated from drinking so much . . .
I felt okay after I rested and drank: a little tired and light around the edges, but nothing serious. And in the "well, I guess this counts as a silver lining" file, it was a distraction today from our twin death watches, as Chad so aptly described on his blog.
One of those ended tonight, when the phone rang to inform us that Aunt Dotty died this afternoon. I've been missing her for several months now, but not quite this much. She was a character: cantankerous and outspoken and loving and fun. Her ill health sometimes weighed on her, but she always appreciated company and conversation, and I enjoyed the times I spent with her.
I think my best memory of her is Christmas 2001, when she came up with Chad's maternal grandmother, her sister. (She was at the wedding, of course, but it was sufficiently hectic that I didn't see her that much.) On Christmas Eve, there's a big dinner with the Polish side of the family (Chad's father's side). Before we eat, there's the traditional sharing of the oplatek, as each person goes around from oldest to youngest, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. That year, during the sharing of the oplatek, there was also the traditional oyster-cracker fight (which has since been dropped). Then we have soup, and fish, and fabulous homemade pierogi, and cookies, and then we sit around in a food coma until presents are exchanged. It's always a wonderful time, warm and silly and welcoming; she was clearly basking in it, and it was wonderful to see.
She drank terrible beer, and was stubborn, and kept close by the stuffed Lab puppy we bought her as a present, and teased me about Chad and his inability to keep his hands off me, and laughed her head off at the wedding at the dancing antics of our friends, and loved her husband terribly and missed him, even years after his death. And we loved her.
We miss you, Aunt Dotty.