Thursday, December 16, 2010

Belated Research Wednesday: When Research Gets Personal

I was going to post something about my general philosophy on research for historical fiction yesterday afternoon, but life intervened.

You see, there was a blood drive at my office yesterday, and I stopped by to donate after lunch. It'd been over ten years since I'd given, because for awhile there the fact that I lived in England 1997-98 was considered a mad cow risk. Now they've got that changed to 1996 and earlier, so I decided it was high time I donated again.

I'd never had any kind of medical issue with those previous donations, and I didn't expect one yesterday. But it ended up kinda terrifying, really. Probably the scariest single hour of my life in medical terms, though I've had pregnancy complications and a bacterial infection or two that were far more dangerous in the "could've killed me if left untreated" sense. Basically, I kept almost fainting for close to an hour. Apparently my vitals never looked scary--I was breathing fine, pulse only a little faster than my baseline, bp plummeted but in a "she's fainting" way, not a "she's dying" one. But I felt like I was falling apart, my chest was tightening, the world was blurry around the edges, and so on.

Eventually I got better enough that they sent me back to my desk, though it wasn't my most productive afternoon ever, and I was told to take it easy--when I told the tech I had choir practice last night, she first tried to make me skip it and then said I could go only if I promised to sit down throughout the rehearsal. And after a good night's sleep I thought I was fine this morning until I walked up the hill from Miss Fraser's bus stop to our house. Suddenly I was woozy and lightheaded again, though not in the terrifying way I was yesterday. So it's at least one more day of avoiding exertion and drinking extra fluids for me.

(Why did this happen when I'm generally healthy and had never had problems before? The tech and I have a couple of theories ranging from the fact I had a low-grade fever, not enough to keep me from donating, but maybe enough to trigger a reaction, to a medication I'm on that isn't on the contraindicated list but could theoretically cause such a reaction in rare cases. I'm going to compare notes with one of my brothers who takes the same thing and talk to my doctor before giving again. My blood type is B-positive, so I'm pretty far removed from being a universal donor with high-demand blood. I can always just make a cash donation to Puget Sound Blood Center or the Red Cross if I feel bad about not giving my actual blood.)

What does ANY of this have to do with research, you ask? Well, I'd already planned a scene for my historical fantasy WIP where my heroine loses a lot of blood quickly and thinks, not without reason, that she's about to die. While she's in a lot more danger than I ever was, after yesterday I know the EXACT sensory details I need for that scene!

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