December 14, 2009

The Gift of Life

So I was sitting in Relief Society (for those not in the know, that is one hour in our 3 hour block of church where the women folk meet) a few Sundays ago perusing through the various sign up sheets. I was having the usual monolog in my head: "Do I want to volunteer for opening or closing prayer? Really? I hate to answer a question with a question, but are you really asking me that?"; "Am I interested in a scrapbooking class? Absolutely nope."; "Would I be willing to volunteer in Primary (kids Sunday school) if needed? HAHAHAHAHAHA..oh wait, they're serious. So nope."; "Can I take a meal to so and so this week? Only if they want to die on top of the hard times they are already suffering, or want pizza"; "Would I like to donate blood at the ward blood drive? Heck no". Oh wait. Donate blood? I've never done that before. Hmm, maybe it would be kind of fun. And so went my thought process until I actually found myself signing my name next to one of the open time slots. I think some otherworldly force temporarily took control of my hand and signed my name. So then I had an appointment...

So the magic day of giving of my own precious bodily fluids arrived, faster than I thought it would, and I actually felt beholden to the promise I made when I signed my name on the sheet. Before I knew it, it was 5:50 and time for me to leave for the place where this donation was to take place. I was nervous before I even left the house. By the time I got there, I was positively pukey with anticipation. If you can believe it, there was actually a line of people willing to do this, so I had to wait about 40 minutes before my number was up...I mean called. While I was waiting I made the mistake of glancing around at the numerous beds which contained people hooked up to tubes that led to clear plastic bags that were in various states of being filled, with blood. Yes, the bags are actually clear. And yes, they actually have the people right out in the open. You know, just to chase off at least 75% of the first timers who show up to "do the right thing". But I didn't run. No sirree, I stayed right where I was. I think my face might have changed to a frightening shade of vampire white though, because a couple of the people I was waiting with asked me if I was okay.

So then my number was called and I was led into a small booth with black sheets all the way around it. Why choose the color black anyway? I mean, it's kind of morbid. But I digress. So there was just enough room for me, a small table with a computer at it, and the nurse who was sitting in front of the computer. She proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions and if I weren't donating blood to some other person which made the questions relevant, I would have been offended. And just for the record, no, I've never had any experimental vaccines, sex with men who have had sex with other men, lived in the UK for 3 months or more between the years of 1986 and 1996, had syphilis, or any other manner of awful sounding conditions. And yes, if you are reading this, I guess I have given away that I do in fact weigh more than 110 pounds. Dang, my secret is out.

So anyway, reading down the list of 1,000,000,001 reasons why a person can not donate blood, I felt sure I would come across something that would disqualify me. Then I would be able to leave with my head held high and a halo over my head anyway because, well, I would have tried. It wouldn't be my fault they didn't want my blood. But alas, I am clean enough for the Red Cross, and there was nothing to disqualify me. Not even my traitorous blood pressure felt like being traitorous. For the first time in my entire life, it was completely normal in a medical situation. Sheesh, how unreliable. So then the nurse did something completely unforgivable in my book...she actually pricked my finger. And it hurt! I nearly shed tears over it but since black sheets don't actually muffle sound, I felt embarrassed and didn't cry. And yes, my iron levels were "excellent". Absolutely, perfectly high. My level was 15, and it only needs to be 12. So I was officially cleared and led to the table like a sacrificial lamb.

I climbed onto the table, making jokes like I usually do when I'm nervous. I tried to make myself comfortable but my feet were slightly above head level and the nurse wouldn't let me cross my legs, so that was a battle lost before I really even began to fight it. Oh yeah, and of course there was the, "Oh my good grief that thing is huge!!" needle they so delicately shoved into my vein after a relaxing betadine bath for my arm. I'm not kidding folks, it is a big needle. It's long, yes, but the most scary part is the girth of the needle. It is made to drain blood, and fast. As soon as they put it in my vein, my blood was flowing like beer at a frat party. Oh yes, let the party begin. It took 7 minutes and 34 seconds to drain away a pint of my blood. And apparently it will take up to 5 weeks for my body to replace those lost red blood cells. That's an awful lot of time for replacing something that took only 7 minutes to give away.

They gave me a sticker, some juice, and a cookie. I felt an awful lot like a kid must feel after they've been to the pediatrician to get shots. The sticker really just doesn't make it feel worth it. Now if they'd given me a sucker, I might have felt differently :). So why did I do it? I'm not sure, really. All I can say is that it really wasn't all that bad (except for that dang finger prick) and I felt pretty normal the next day. And well, I guess I did feel pretty good about myself and my "gift". I think I left the building looking a little like this. But don't worry, it didn't last long...

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, the finger prick is DEFINITELY the worst part of it!! How is it that a tiny little poke like that hurts worse that the huge girth of the blood needle???? Someone has got to figure out a better system. :)


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