Sunday, December 06, 2009

Giving Blood - A first time donor probably won't be a repeat offender

The other day, and don't ask me which right now, I have blocked as much of the incident out of my head as possible, I gave blood for the first time.  Well I *donated* blood for the first time, let's put it that way.

Emily has a "Project Hero" program at school and asked if anyone wanted to sign up and give blood in her name.  Being the good daddy I sometimes can be, I wrote name on the paper and prayed there would be a storm or an earthquake or maybe the blood-taking people would end up at the wrong address so I could escape the fate I had sealed for myself.  Alas, it was not to be.  Everything went as planned.

The day before I was to show up, I received a call from the organization confirming my signing up to give blood.  I should have said, "I'm sorry. You have the wrong number."  But I didn't - again playing the 'good daddy' role.

Though my appointment was set for 4:30pm, I could not give right away.  There was a line of people ahead of me.  The woman at the desk handed me some literature to read and told me to sit at the table and wait.  So, I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  As I waited, Emily and her friends played with my iPod Touch while made several notes on Plurk. 

Finally, my turn came and I was ushered to a small desk behind a blue partition off to the side.  In there, I was asked all sorts of questions regarding my drug use, sex life, sex during drug use, family history of various diseases and whether or not I participated in sex with trees within the last 12 months.  Okay, maybe not that last one.  I don't remember.  I blocked it out, or am trying to.

The woman pricked my middle finger with a small needle and took a small sample of blood.  Those little pinpricks don't bother me at all.  Some people can't stand those but to me, there just isn't much to them.  I guess I passed.

After the interview, the woman took me to a chair and sat me down.  I was not thinking straight, and therefore my right arm was the one to be offered up to sacrifice.  I am right-handed.  Not smart.  The nurse (or whatever profession the people who draw blood hold) tied my arm off with the rubber tourniquet of death.  This was followed by the rubbing alcohol pad made by 3M sandpaper division.  Or maybe it was just the 1500 lbs of pressure used to rub off the first three layers of skin.

I am not a needle person.  As a kid, I had a very bad experience with a nurse that decided it was easier to just dig around inside m arm rather than remove the needle and just try again.  That incident lives deep with my psyche.  As you might imagine, the needle pit scene in Saw II or III or whatever did not sit well with me. I digress.

The nurse pulled out a little plastic thing and a moment later, I was watching blood flow into a little bag.  She explained that they collected several samples for research and the like.  Actually, I think the first woman said something about that, too.  After the few vials were filled, she used what looked like a curling iron with a slit cut in it to seal off the tube in three places.  She then hooked up the tube that ran into the donor bag.  All I had to do was hang out and let the blood flow.  Easy Peasy.

I looked down at my arm and said, "It's a good thing you guys hide those needles until they're in the arm.  Otherwise, I would have been outta here."  She laughed.  I didn't.  It was a big round as one of those little promotional screw drivers you get in the mail sometimes.  This was not a think, little needle sticking out my arm.  We're talking mechanical pencil here, people!

After a bit of time - I don't really have any idea how long I gave blood - the nurse came over and removed the tourniquet and the needle.  Actually, I am not sure which order that was in, and I'm not sure it matters.  For some reason, though, it seems like it should matter.  Well, as soon as she removed everything, my head started spinning.

"I'm a little loopy," I said as the Elementary school cafeteria began to lose its reality in my world.  Immediately, she put my feet up.  Another woman brought two ice packs over to me.  One went on my neck and the other on my throat.  The first nurse came over and handed me a bottle of water.

"Drink this," she said.  That was followed by, "When you finish that one, I'll get you another and then we'll see how you are."  I looked at the juice boxes on the table to my left.  I was pretty sure I was supposed to get juice, not water.  Who wants water!?  Dang.  After I finished the bottle of water, she took it and gave me another. 

"Didn't they call you yesterday and tell you to eat a big lunch?"  She asked.

"Yes, ma'am," I answered.

"Did you eat today?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am," I answered.

"And did they tell you to drink a lot of water?"

"Yes," I said, drinking a swig of the nasty water.  To be fair, the water was branded bottled water.  But to me, *all* water is nasty. UGH!

"Did you drink a lot of water today?" She followed up.

I shook my head.  "Um, No," I confessed.  Then she shook HER head.  After I drank half the second bottle of water, I got up and handed her the ice packs.  I was still a little loopy but not near as bad as before, and I was ready to get out of there.  On the way out, I had a cupcake.  I should have grabbed a box of juice, but I didn't.

Earlier, Emily had told me to get a RED video game.  So, I grabbed one on  my out.  Yes, I gave blood, nearly passed out, and had to drink (gasp!) water.  What did I get? A sticker or something that says I gave.  What did my daughter get (who left some time before I was done so that she could play in her mother's classroom)?  She got a handheld videogame.  How did THAT happen!?

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