The Blood

June 17, 2006 at 4:31 PM | Site/Personal, Work | 2 Comments

I gave blood for the first time ever earlier this week.

They had this blood drive thing going on at work and I’ve been around my fair share of blood drives around school and work for a number of years now… but I’ve always just kept my blood to myself and looked the other way. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t know. Maybe. It’s my blood and I’ll give it if I want to. But for whatever reason, when I saw the announcement of a blood drive coming to our workplace gym about a week ago, I jumped at the opportunity and signed right up. I’m not really sure what prompted me to do so, but I figured… hey, I’ve kept my blood to myself for way too long. It’s time I share some of it with the world–people who may need it more than I do. Why not? I went into the thing with a “whatever” kind of attitude.

The sign up time slots were in 15 minute chunks, which I thought was a little short. I blocked off an hour on my calendar just in case. I was glad that I did, because I think it all took about an hour and a half when all was said and done. Not because it actually took an hour and a half to get a pint of blood from me, but because of all the paperwork and process involved.

I showed up at the gym and there was 8 people already giving blood and 4 or 5 other people waiting. They entered all of my information into their systems and had me fill out some forms and wait some more. And then they had me sit in this booth where they reviewed my forms and took a drop of blood from my finger to test its iron level and took my blood pressure. It was all within normal ranges so it was all good. What wasn’t all good was one of the questions on the history form that I had filled out. One of the questions on there was a yes or no question asking whether I had been outside of the U.S. or Canada in the past 3 years. I had to answer yes because I had indeed been outside of the U.S. during the winter of 2004.

So they asked me about details. I told them that I was in Japan, Hong Kong, and the Phillippines for about a month total. They didn’t have a problem with Japan or Hong Kong but the Phillippines was a little questionable. They broke out this big binder filled with yellow pages listing all of the different places in the world which could potentially disqualify you from donating blood. I told them that I had arrived in Mania (which was OK) and then took a boat down to Mindoro (which had some Malaria issues) so they had to bust out a world atlas, call over other people, who in turn had to make phone calls to faceless individuals to determine whether I was still qualified. Now, I told them that I had taken the pills for malaria resistance while I was there, but apparently they didn’t care. So about an hour in, while they were still waiting on the final word, the girl on the phone pressed the phone on her chest and turned and asked me where I was born. I was like, “Wichita, Kansas.” And then she went back to talking on the phone, “oh nevermind, you don’t have to look that up… he’s a U.S. citizen.” I was like “what…” because they had just wasted all this time when they could have just asked me whether I was a U.S. citizen right off the bat.

So I went and got some apple juice and waited some more until one of the chairs opened up. While I was waiting, somebody who had just finished donating came over and was telling me about this other guy who was just lying down off in the other side of the gym, who I guess turned all pale when he was donating earlier and caused quite a scare. I couldn’t see his face from where I was sitting but he had a (presumably empty) styrofoam cup leaning up against him on the chair. I was like “yeah, there’s no guarantee that I won’t turn out like that.” And it was true… I’ve never done this before so how would I know whether I was one of those people who pass out during blood donation from loss of blood, just at the mere sight of blood, at the sight of the needle, or all of the above. No idea.

When one opened up, it went pretty quickly. They sat me down in this lawn chair/cot looking thing that had an arm rest on one side, cleaned my arm with this iodine soaked swabs, put my arm in one of those blood pressure arm pumps, and gave me this ball to squeeze. Sitting all around me were people with tubes coming out of their arms, blood a-flowing, which led to these pouches next to the chairs.

And then they placed some kind of a paper on my shoulder and took out the needle. I was like “oooh my goddd,” because it was a lot bigger than what I had imagined or expected.

The woman doing all this prep work was like “oh, first time?”

“Yeah.”

“You sure you don’t want to look away?”

“Nah, I want to see it all.” There is something sick about me that made me want to see everything that went down. Maybe it was just curiosity. Maybe it was out of fear. Maybe I get a kick out of seeing that kind of thing. I dunno. I just knew that I wanted the full experience. I fixed my gaze on the tip of the needle and followed it.

“Alright…” and then she proceeded to stick the needle into my inner elbow, where a vein was supposed to be, my eyes following the tip the entire time until it disappeared into my arm. I say “supposed to be” because I sure as hell couldn’t tell where this mythical vein that they sought was. But they’re professionals. Maybe they saw something that I didn’t. Upon entry of the needle, a moderate squirt of blood shot up and out onto my arm, slightly above the entry point.

Again, I was like “ooh my goddddd” because I didn’t expect a squirt. But I guess I should have seen it coming, considering the bib that I had on. But the tube that the needle was attached to remained clear. The woman called some other worker over for help, who proceeded to wriggle the needle around in my arm. I had a needle stuck in my arm so I really wasn’t in any position to make any sudden movements. I didn’t know what was going on or what to expect but i guess this wasn’t supposed to be one of the steps. And then all of a sudden the tube filled with warm blood. I saw them mentally high-five each other. It was all pretty traumatizing for me to see this go down.

They had me squeeze this ball for 5 seconds, release for 5 seconds, and repeat. I did this for about 10-15 minutes when my bag of blood filled up. They labeled the pouch of blood, took the needle out and put a bandage on me. Somebody walked me back over to the refreshments and I had some apple juice, Sprite, and a pack of Nutter Butter, put on a sticker that read “Hug me, I gave blood today”, hung out for a bit talking with some other donors, and then went back to work. It was all so easy.

On my way back, I realized that I had just been jipped. They didn’t even tell me what blood type I had. And that was one of the contributing factors of why I did it.

2 Comments »

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  1. Most like like A positive. Everyone else in the family is.

    Comment by LL — June 18, 2006 #

  2. Just got my blood donor card in the mail today… A+ as usual.

    Comment by LloydSkoyd — July 17, 2006 #

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