so here's the thing... i hate needles. i mean, nobody loves them. no body gets excited about the idea of having a sharp object jammed into their skin to suck blood out of them (except Bella of course - wh0, by the way, is fiction) but i actually make myself sick over the idea. like i get short of breath and my insides start tensing up and i get sick to my stomach - like "D" word sick - and it plagues my mind all day long and i get sweaty and a bit dizzy just thinking about it.
needless to say, the many times in my life when blood donation sign up sheets have been sent around in school and church, i have always passed them on politely to the next person on the row. i've always known deep down inside that i should do it. just do it! you've pushed a nine pound kid out of you for crying out loud! but still, the fear was just too powerful.
you see, i have this friend anne (with an e) who is really quite persuasive, (even more so than i gave her credit for). she's a nurse and you know how nurses are, they aren't scared of anything. long story short, this girl is dragging me - kicking and screaming (okay that's an exaggeration, but its not far off) to the blood donation center here in des moines. the second we stepped in the main doors i smelled blood. blah!
so i filled out the paper work (with all correct answers - though i was seriously tempted to claim that i had lived in Europe for five years in the eighties) and waited patiently in my private little room until the phlebotomist came in to start the dirty stuff. he pulled out the wicked little finger pricker and the sweat started looming under my t-shirt. i laughed nervously while he attempted to distract me ( don't you hate it when these medical people try asking you where you're from and what you do for a living right when they're about to hurt you? )
i have to admit, the finger pricking wasn't nearly as bad as i had expected it to be. i should have known it was going too well...
so we're done with the weird little room and the guy takes me over to a chair (nowhere near my friend anne - which ticked me off, because anne promised me that we'd be able to lounge about together giving blood and that we'd be able to talk and laugh and it would feel like i was in a day spa.)
he starts feeling around for my veins. he tried on my left arm first, then he moved to my right... never a good sign. he looked about as nervous as i felt as he declared that he was going to try my right arm first. nice.
luckily anne was prepared to document my first blood donation. (i wish i could have gotten this kids autograph)
this is pre-poke (we know this because i'm still smiling), he is just "searching" for the vein in this picture.
so he finally makes a poke - ouch! and then he digs! oooouch!!! and then he digs some more! seriously kid, are you a phlebotomist or a paleontologist? of course, i couldn't really say these things so i just grimaced - really really hard. (is he smiling for the camera?)
well, he couldn't find the vein and neither could anyone else - or they could find it but it was "bouncing" around all over the place, whatever that means. so they pull the needle out say, "okay, you're done."
what? i'm done? i can't give blood? i ask, "no you can't give blood, we can't get your vein." they reply. it was like a slap in the face. you know that feeling where some guy wants to date you and you're really not that into him but then he dumps you and your strangely sad about it? it was like that.
then a miraculous thing happened, it was like an out of body experience. i found myself begging, no- pleading with them to let me stay! "Can't you just try the other arm? i came this far, i really want to give blood!"
i know, i was shocked myself. so they prep the next arm and the phlebotomist kid (bless his heart) is too nervous to go in himself so he calls in for back-up. so this blond girl starts poking and digging and searching and i'm doing my best to calm down (because apparently, according to anne, when you're grimacing and not breathing your veins jump around - i personally blame the flash photography that was going on during the whole fiasco.)
well after about two minutes of digging and a few silent prayers she finally gets my vein. i was waiting for the relief of pain, but instead the pain just got worse. it didn't help that the nice blond haired lady kept looking at my arm and shaking her head saying, "you are going to have a bruise, you are really going to have a bruise."
but i kept breathing slowly and steadily. i was going to persevere. i was going to give a pint of my blood and someday it would save a life. i was so happy! i felt a whole new sense of life flowing through my veins!
here's a shot of my blood being sucked from my veins (anne tried taking it secretly when she thought i wouldn't see, but i saw the flash. i knew i wasn't alone.)
could my feet look any bigger in this picture?
so the blood is pumping for about five minutes and i'm counting the seconds because it seriously hurts. (i will be the first to admit that i'm a total whoos, but seriously, it hurt.) so the blond lady comes to check on me and the next thing i know she's pushing down on my vein like you would push down on a tube of tooth past to get the last bit out of the bottom. as she's doing this she says, "let me know if i hurt you" too late "i'm just trying to get the blood out of you faster, its taking too long."
what the weird? so this seems completely unnatural. this lady is kneading the blood out of my veins because its not flowing fast enough? after another couple minutes of the torture she finally tells me, "yeah, we're not going to be able to get a whole pint out of you."
"can't i just lay here until the whole pint finally comes?" i was in pain, but seriously, i was not going to leave it all to waist!
"no," she says sadly, "if it doesn't come in a certain time frame then we can't use it."
"you can't use it?" i really was about in tears by this point.
so that was that. the whole thing was for nothing. whatever blood they pumped from my body was sealed in a bag and tossed in the trash can. so much for me saving a life.
she pulled out the needle. (which hurt more than everything else put together) and bandaged me up. i sat - defeated - in the blood donor chair, feeling like a complete failure.
when it was safe for me to get up they invited me to the snack area for some juice and cookies. i took two cookies because i felt like i deserved it. the nice blond lady brought me a free shirt for being a good sport (anne was so jealous about that) and i just sort of felt like a celebrity. and then anne and i looked at the pictures she had taken of me and we took some more and we laughed a whole bunch and the cookies made me feel better.
and then i realized something. i realized that even though i had failed at donating blood, i really had accomplished something huge. i had overcome one of my biggest fears in life - even when i was given a way out - i persevered. i faced my fears. and even though i came out with some painful bruises...
as soon as i got home to james, i was able to milk him for all he was worth!
moral of this story...
give blood. its totally worth it.