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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Magic Numbers of Life

People say that there are two magical ages of life. One blogger from the States, Jason Rappaport, just entered the first magical age upon reaching the age of 18.

According to him, now that he's 18, he can be sued, can be enlisted into the army, get a credit card, accumulate debt, get an unrestricted driver's license, play the lottery, and what not.

I wasn't as aware of the liberty I took into my hands upon waking up into my 18th birthday as he was. All I could remember was that the day was the only day I was fussy about my clothes.

One of my friends said, "Wenqi, be careful, if you commited crimes you won't be in juvenile court anymore."

THAT, I was aware of. I have to say, we're sort of a passimistic type.

Anyway, my 18th birthday was more than nine months away now. However, it was today that I did something that previously required the consent of a parent or guardian.

I left for school 2 hours before class starts (in fact, there's still 45 minutes to the class when I'm writing this), had a "light" breakfast (hearty would be something more appropriate), and marched up to the college hall.

Signs saying "MBDC" were put up. It was understandable that it meant "March Blood Donation Campaign".

This is it. I don't fancy having a fat syringe poked into my arm and having squeezed like a sponge to have my juice extracted, but this is probably my last semester in TARC (they have a blood donation drive every semester) and god knows how long will I have another chance to try it.

Three scales were placed in front of the entrance to the hall. A First Aid Unit (FAU) student escorted me to the top of the scales and read it. He read pretty slowly for my standards, but maybe that was because I had plenty of practice with my multimeter.

Then, I went to a table to fill up a form. They asked all sorts of questions, including whether you have had homosexual or bisexual sex before, whether you had HIV, Malaria, etc. There was even a question asking whether I've been to Europe between 1980 to 1987. Heck, I wasn't even born by then.

After successfully filling up the form (which actually felt more like taking a MCQ test), I went to have my blood type verified. This is good, considering the fact that I missed the opportunity to do it in secondary school. After mixing my blood with special types of protein, we waited for a moment for it to aggregrate (if it would). When nothing happened after about half a minute, she declared me an O and I left for the next counter.

The blood pressure is next. I couldn't really see what the metre said, having faced away from me, but the nurse said "normal" and I assumed everything was fine.

Then there was this "Detour". I could chicken out, or I could continue and register myself as a donor. I took the latter.

While waiting for the precedures to be completed, I saw a sign saying something like "Exit for Disqualified Donors". This was feeling more and more like an exam. I got my red book, along with three empty blood bags.

Then it was the real donation. A Gnomometer was used to squeeze my left upper arm until my hands felt numb. Then the nurse felt for the presence of a vein, and poked a needle in, injecting some sort of liquid into it. I stared with my eyes wide open as the needle wriggled around a little, and my skin moved exactly like the skin of an uncooked chicken. The part where she poked swelled, and she picked a syringe some 1.5mm in thickness into it.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Hell, why was it so slow? They only needed 450ml of my blood. I began to appreciate the wonder of nature, and how much activity could be done with such a slow flow of blood. After what seemed like 15 minutes, the bag fully filled up with thick, dark red strawberry syrup, I had the syringe removed (after the nurse took blood samples for tests) and the puncture plastered, collected my souvenirs, and went to have a bit of free breakfast.

I was full, but it was free, how could I resist? I took a packet of Julie's cookies and left.

There were medicines too. I don't remember any healthy person who needed to take medication. One was labelled folic acid, which I couldn't understand why I need it. The second one is understandable, as it says ferrous something. I'm sorry, I suck at chemistry, but I understand that Fe is needed for the production of hemogoblin. I mean, hemoglobin. I've been reading Spiderwick's Chronicles, sorry.

So for those who will soon get to the magical age, I suggest you look up the net on the loss of certain privileges and the gain of special liberty upon celebrating the 18th birthday.

PS - I read up a bit on Folic Acid on Wikipedia. It says that folic acid is needed for the maintenance and reproduction of new cells, especially when the division of sells occur in rapid rates, since folate is needed for the DNA. Hmmm... I don't think red blood cells have nuclei...


  1. yep. O. you? no idea yet? i have faint imprints of memory of us talking about the bio experiment on blood types, but i can't remember what happened to yours. you missed it too?

  2. i'm o too ahaha
    couldn do blood donations... i'm more towards the low side =X

    eh.... whose pix did u put up under ur profile? that didn look like u the last time i saw u =X

  3. ah haha glad you liked it. but re-reading it now i feel it's kinda lengthy and crappy... too much details.


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