They say that writers should share their personal experiences with their readers. They say it adds depth and makes you look real, well here it goes.

When I lived in England, I frequently gave blood. I did this because hospitals are always in need, and I could rest assured that I indirectly saved lives. I was not paid for my efforts, but the National Health Service (NHS) did provide all you can eat ice cream and cookies.

At each session a pint of blood was extracted. The body replaces that pint very quickly from bone marrow reserves. However, it takes time for the reserves to recover, so donating blood could only be done every month or two.

When I came to California, one of the first things I did was stop at a hospital and ask if I could donate blood. They asked, “Are you from England?” I had to answer affirmative, whereupon they refused my blood. The reason being CJD, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as mad cow disease. This incurable Illness was killing British cattle, and if you ate infected beef, you would also succumb.

I did get some free ice cream though!

More recently this American restriction was lowered, and by chance I came upon an offer where I could donate plasma. This time it wasn’t for ice cream; I would get paid for my bodily life fluids. Plasma is the fluid that carries the red blood cells, it is made up of 90% water and the rest is protein and minerals. They extract the blood, separate the red cells and platelets with a centrifuge. They keep the plasma and return the red stuff back into your arm in a saline solution. This is done in stages, extracting and returning and the whole process takes about an hour.

The downside is you have a piece of plumbing stuck in your arm which is connected to a big device which seems to be a cross between a washing machine and a drinks dispenser.

The upside is plasma can be donated (or sold) twice a week. Which also means I get paid twice a week.

I thought this was super cool!

Pretty soon, my arms began to look like that of a drug addict. To coin a phrase, I began to feel drained. The processing that preceded each session was repetitive, and tedious, a bit like checking into hospital. The dollar signs that previously lit up my eyes were fading. I realized I need my plasma more than I need their money. In future, I will stay true to my principles of giving to those in need.

The moral of this story?

Good things don’t always last.

If they don’t then they probably weren’t good things to begin with.