Wednesday, February 27, 2008

giving to red cross

i have never given blood until today so here is the account of my i conquered my fears, only to be shot down by my lack of preparation.

when i went down to the red cross station before lunch today, the nurse asked me if i had eaten enough and been hydrated enough that day. I didn't think one bowl of cereal and milk was enough so she told me to go back and drink some water, and come back after lunch, which i did. I was even smart enough not to drink a diet coke because something in my mind said having caffeine in your system probably won't be good during blood donations. When I left the station it was actually a relief that I wouldn't get a needle stuck into me just yet.

At around 1:45 pm I finally got up the nerve to go back downstairs, because once you sit in the lab for a few minutes you really begin to have second thoughts about losing your blood. And now that I was actually going to have to go through with it, it almost seemed an adventure, an eye opening experience that I would have once in a lifetime. (although i guess most people give blood regularly.) I was all excited until the guy manning the booth had me sit and fill out some forms and take a number, because apparently the station had gotten somewhat busier.

Many people say that the initial prick of the finger for your blood test is the worst part. Looking back on it, they're probably right, because it continues to hurt as the nurse squeezes all the living liquid out of your throbbing finger. But I started to get queasy even as I walked toward the bed where they actually stick the needle in you. The nurse was nice enough, knowing it was my first time, and tried to engage in some meaningless conversation while I visibly turned pale and started losing feeling in my right arm. This was all before she started applying alcohol to the spot.

Finally, when the needle was in my vein, I felt like a trooper, a brave philanthropist giving his own life essence to help others who needed it. A good two minutes passed, during which my nurse kept looking at various instruments and dials, and adjusting the needle with some minor amount of aching. Through which I grimaced enough to make her ask if I was ok. Then, she switches with another nurse, who continues to adjust, then finally sighs and says, "We can either try again or stop." As most people prefer not to reinsert the needle she decides to remove the needle. "We've got enough blood for a few tests, but the blood's stopped flowing. Good try, though."

As she said that, I was struck with a feeling of utter defeat. All my internal struggles and (what little) external pain that I had gone through, for nothing. About 1/4 pint of blood, that probably wasn't even worth the bag they used to collect it. I felt disappointed that I had gone through all that, only to fail at my first attempt at giving blood. I wasn't hydrated enough, it seems, like the other time when a nurse was unable to insert a needle into my veins and had tried multiple spots before giving up. Or maybe it was that my body, intending to hold on to my fluids as hard as possible, caused it to stop flowing through my right arm. As i walked out of the room, the nurse kept asking me if I was ok. Sure, I was fine, I didn't even really lose any blood, but it was my pride that had been bled dry. I joined the other donors at the snack table, but they wore the medal of honor, a blank stare on their faces as they placidly chewed on cookies, whereas I was bouncing around like a failure. a failure full of blood. i only took one cookie and left.

on the up side, i will probably be able to go to taekwondo. i will probably hold paddles. I will probably not kick because of that lazy hypochondriac voice inside my head saying "you're not well, don't overexert yourself." and i can only vindicate myself by typing with my unweakened arms, to tell the world of this tale so that everyone will know, drink lots of water before you draw blood. or all you get is a free cookie.

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