QUESTION: What non-activity provides a near-perfect getaway? A solid block of time to catch up on your pulp fiction, review for a test, or see that movie that got the rave reviews but you missed while you were preparing for midterms or that big presentation the boss dropped on you.

When was the last time you indulged in a megadose of daydreaming? Are you a mental planner? Get all the ducks’ d’tails in a row once and for all. And all of it guilt free!

I take this vacation attended by lovely folks who make sure I’m comfortable, offering chilled juices and water as well as cookies, crackers, or pretzels to nibble. As an added bonus I get a mini physical–free. At the end not only are there no regrets, but the thanks and appreciation just don’t stop. And they are sincere.

I’ve discovered the joy of apheresis.

According to Wikipedia:

Apheresis (Greek: “to take away”) is a medical technology in which the blood of a donor or patient is passed through an apparatus that separates out one particular constituent and returns the remainder to the circulation.

Once a month, I schedule a visit to the local Red Cross on Packard. When I arrive, I quickly read the guidelines to confirm I haven’t been exposed to any diseases or medications that would make me ineligible to donate–it’s critical that the Red Cross collect only safe blood. Next they confirm that I am healthy, taking vital signs and hematocrit (iron levels). Finally I’m taken to one of four stations where the chair or bed is adjusted till I’m comfortable. Pillows, heating pad, and blankets are added as needed. There’s a personal DVD player–if you forget to bring your own video, they have a selection of fifty or so to choose from.

Then the magic starts. My personal attending nurse prepares the machine, and, with the most insignificant needle poke, I’m hooked up. That’s it. An hour to two hours later, depending on what the magic computer says I can give, I am disconnected, encouraged to have more drinks and snacks before leaving, and treated in general like a queen.

There is so much need in our world. Most of us will never be able to give like Bill Gates or inspire like Gandhi. But this is one way I can give to someone who needs it, something I’m so grateful to have: healthy blood. It’s painless, free, and, unlike a financial contribution, I’ll never miss it.