Friday, May 29, 2009

i almost saved a life

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.

until today.

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.

"no, sorry."

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.


Mimi said...

You are so much braver than me - I've done it twice but HATE it! I definitely would have taken the way out.

Anne and BJ said...

I am glad to hear that you don't hate me for the whole fiasco...
you did overcome your fears and that is seriously impressive. I am glad I could be a part of it, but you didn't post the oreo picture...that was the best one!

sara and ryan said...

I'm seriously in tears from laughing so hard at this story. I myself have some major issues when it comes to needles/blood. I don't think I'll be getting over those issues any time soon after reading this. Did you know that Reed used to be a phlebotomist? Scary!! Way to be brave...sort of.

jamie said...

you are awesome! I hope to see you sporting your t-shirt everyday this summer. sorry I couldn't come along.

Lynda said...

My goodness, you sure know how to take on a great challenge! We read your ordeal, or trial of faith with both giggles and tears. You have a really enthusiastic and expressive way of communicating your feelings. I hope your arms are quick healing and that you will be able enjoy for years to come the event and what you learned. Sometimes we get surprise endings in our lives that we never expected. I truly believe Heavenly Father does credit us for every good thing we do whether it is difficult or simple because through them he discovers our true hearts.

Ryan & Amanda said...

Oh man, those are quite the bruises! I have never actually given blood either! I have tried many of times, but the finger prick always gets me-I don't have enough iron! So I have felt like a failure quite a few times, it is really sad because it isn't like you want to give the blood, but you feel like you should so you do, but then you can't and you feel bad! Good job for trying, I am impressed!

jaredandgina said...

OH Natalie that is great! I love that you faced your fears! I don't give blood anymore because I had this same experience. They couldn't find the vein, tried in both arms and the pain was making me dizzy! Then once they found it they couldn't get a whole pint so it too went in to the garbage and I said goodbye to my blood donor days. Did you ever go with me and Andee to donate plasma at Utah State? They wouldn't even give me a chance because they said my veins were too small! So I totally know how you feel!!

Jaime said...

Ahhh! That made me laugh so hard! (sorry to take such joy in your misery, but seriously, that was hilarious). I've only given blood once and while they had an easy time finding my vein, it took a REALLY long time and I swear I could feel myself getting colder as my blood left me. :) Then, after perservering through the whole experience, I got a letter in the mail 2 weeks later that they had to throw it away because I had a cross reaction with one of their screening tests. They basically said, "thanks and don't come back." Lovely. At least now I have an excuse....

waukeelittles said...

that is a funny story!! I rememer Anne talking to you about this at the YMCA. I am proud of you for sticking with it and going forth! What a bad first experience for you!!

Jaime said...

PS I'm not your vt-er anymore--bummer!

Ashley Webb said...

natalie, you're hilarious. i'm sorry it sucked but i'm glad i got to hear about it. :)

Doug & Rach said...

I seriously love reading your blog. You are such a great writer! I feel kind of bad, but your story about giving blood seriously had me busting a gut laughing! HAHAHA! What a day! You are awesome! I was going to ask you to show me your bruises at church..I figured that's why you wore a 3/4 sleeve shirt :)

Christia said...

First, Gabe was rocking out to Guns and Roses. Second, I haven't laughed that hard at a blog post, in a long time! I'm glad you faced your fear! For that, Natalie, you rock!