Posts Tagged 'Sexual History'

Can't Donate Blood!

Gracie and I have been a little short in the pocketbook lately. Two freelance writers, on the verge of the poorhouse? Who knew!

Anyway, First we look into pharmaceutical testing. Me, I'm underweight -- too skinny for their criteria. Gracie smokes: red check for her. Oh -- wait -- the pharmaceutical tester had an upcoming study on a anti-smoking gum, and the testees had to be smokers. That hope was dashed quickly, based on the fact that Gracie had four molars removed along with her wisdom teeth. Yes, part of their screening was to ask if you've got all your natural teeth. Not enough molars, no chewing-gum test. Every time I've had a blood test for anything, the doctor raises an eyebrow at my cholesterol level, which is unnecesarily high regardless of the food I eat. At this point, we're a little disapointed at how little our bodies are worth. We can't even sell them to test the latest anti-anxiety medication or see if our skin gets blotchy from the newest medical creams and salves.

One night while watching TV we caught a little note, a voiceover during the public service announcements, about making money donating plasma at Biolife. They say we could make $200 a month -- each! -- by coming in twice a week for an hour or two. Take a part-time job, 20 hours a week at minimum wage, that's $140, plus they take taxes out. At Biolife, Gracie and I can spend four hours a week, cooperatively reading, and we can make $100. The numbers speak for themselves: for far less work, doing something we do already (sitting and reading) we can pay our rent.

I went through their website, checking the obvious things. I was worried about being disqualified for herpes, but they didn't say anything against that. Same for nicotine use. No alcohol for 24 hours before donating is doable. We've both been tested and cleared for the nastiest of STDs, neither of us have had intimate contact with anybody else since those tests, so we were satisfied we were clean.

I called up and made appointments, and was told we'd have to come in for initial testing and a physical before we could donate. Not a problem; the paranoid part of me liked the idea of having blood tests done for free (see how that cholesterol is doing). New instructions were added to the other restrictions: eat a protien-filled meal and drink 20oz water before coming in, and no caffiene, either. No Tylenol for 24 hours. We could do those things, no problem.

We arrived at Biolife, got ourselves settled, and I was called first. I went through the general stuff: signing papers, taking a picture for my file, verifying things are truthful and accurate, etc. I was taken back to the 'milking floor' and a technician checked my veins to make sure I was physically able to donate; both arms checked out fine.

Back at the counter, I was given a binder. I was to read every page carefully while waiting for the nurse to do my full physical. I was to pay close attention to the "MUST NOT DONATE" page, because I'd be quizzed.

The "MUST NOT DONATE" page probably had another title, but those three words were in huge bold letters at the top of the page, to make sure that nobody misunderstood the purpose of the words therein.

The page asked: have I partaken of intravenous drugs since 1977, or had sex in the last year with someone who has partaken of intravenous drugs since 1977? Nope, checked that one off.

Next: Have I had sex with another man since 1977, or had sex in the past 12 months with a man who has had sex with another man since 1977? Nope, another good one.

Have I had sex for money since 1977, or have I had sex with someone in the past 12 months who has had sex for money since 1977?

The wording, in short, means to weed out prostitutes, or men who've been to a prostitute in the past year. However, there's a deeper problem in the wording.

See, Gracie, as you may know from her website, was an escort in her youth. No apologies, I have never had a problem with it, and it really doesn't affect our lives. Well, until now.

Gracie, according to their definition, has had sex for money since 1977.

And, in the past 12 months, I've had sex with her.

Hell, I really hope that in upcoming periods of 12 months I'll get to have sex with her many, many more times. While we haven't tossed around the "M" word much, I'm expecting it to happen eventually, even as I'm expecting to get a talking to for mentioning marriage in my blog.

Anyways, I stared at the money-for-sex for quite a while, reading it for deeper meaning; could there be an exception? Am I missing something? After what seemed like ten minutes, I took the binder over to Gracie.

"We've got a problem; look."

I show it to her, and we go up to the counter together.

"Excuse me..." I say, calling over the paramed who originally helped me with my paperwork. "We have a problem; both of us fit into " (gesturing at the page of Non-Donation) "something on this page."

"Really? Which one?"

I blush, Gracie tenses. "This one here." I point, she pauses a second, apparently thinking I'm the prostitute, and says she'll get a nurse.

The nurse, a genial mature lady with a smile, calls me into her office and asks me to explain.

"My girlfriend, in her youth was an escort, and I've, well, been with her in the last year, so I think we're disqualified...unless there's an exception of some sort, but we understand...."

"Oh, no," she says, "there's no exceptions. But I want to make sure we're reading this right."

She places a finger on the page, and reads along, saying each word carefully and with great analysis.

After she finishes the sentence, she laid down her decision. "Sorry, it really does disqualify you. I guess your youth catches up with you, huh?"

"Well," I said, with an amused smile, "1977 was a long time ago, you know."

I returned to the lobby and summoned Gracie, explaining our disqualification. She gathered up her papers (she'd brought along work for Tit-Elation to occupy herself) and we headed towards the door.

As I was almost outside, the nurse called me back, started to talk, then decided we better do it in the privacy of her office.

Back in her office, she had a well-meaning smile when she said, "you know, if you and her break up, after a year you can come back to donate."

"Thanks," I said, smiling back, and headed back towards the door. Gracie and I laughed about it all the way to our van.

I must say, BioLife was very nice through everything (even though I had a lot of trouble making that first appointment), but I wonder just how many people don't answer truthfully. Let's say I had a gay fling in high school (I didn't) -- Gracie would be disqualified, even if I had been embarrased and never told anyone. How many people have tried heroin once, hated it, and never did it again? I know more than one person in that boat; they, too, would be disqualified, along with their current spouses and partners. Even those college students who filled the lobby at Biolife: how do they know, for certain, that the gal they dated last spring hadn't been turning tricks to pay for books her freshman year? And that 'they pay me for my time, not the sex' is a legal exception, not a moral one; escorts know what their being paid for, ultimately.

Many people believe that their transgressions of youth disappear once they become responsible members of society; politicians are great examples of writing off youthful frivilousness as inconsequential. The self-filtering of right-v-wrong would lead a lot of people to overlook their past transgressions and provide technical-untruths to the nurse. Little do they realize, there's no 'technically' exceptions. The reason they screen this way is because grey areas are intolerable. At first, Gracie seemed ready to overlook it and answer 'no,' but I'm often told I'm "the good one," and I felt honesty was necessary here. We couldn't donate.

So, we haven't found any part of our bodies that's worth anything to anybody. It's a bit ironic, because the value of Gracie's body during her escort days, $200 an hour, is our undoing. Imperfect specimens we are, not worth a dime, like a horse destined for the glue factory. We'll keep looking, I suppose; we've got to be worth something to somebody.