Friday, April 2, 2010

She pulled out the needle, I pushed it away

The gal who greeted me pulled out the needle and thrust it my way. I pushed it aside. I insisted on a gun and a bucket. I was ready to bleed.

The receptionist at the SW Washington Blood Center chuckled and explained she was the person who collected information not blood. She held out a clipboard along with that... pesky needle.

I examined it more closely. I noted it was a pen. I might have been nervous.

I reviewed the educational materials and worked my way through the official blood donation questionnaire. The receptionist and I had a brief exchange over the baby aspirin I'd taken two days prior. It fell within the 48 hour range and needed to be noted. I colored in the round circle over the grayed out 'Y' and hoped it didn't disqualify me from participating in my own birthday blood drive.

The receptionist handed me off to the phlebotomist who hauled me into an interview room. She scrutinized my answers. She asked three more questions and noted my responses on the form. Satisfied, she pulled out her gear and I felt the first prick. I don't remember much after that... until I started to breathe again.

When I lifted my head off the table she grinned and presented me with my first birthday present. Nothing fancy, not really expensive, but something I could really, really use: a band-aid.

Custom. Flesh colored. Nice.

She continued to smile and escorted me to the donation area. I seemed to be sort of a celebrity (my reputation had preceded me), they had decked out the center with balloons and general party paraphernalia including a lovely cake, and the big bosses shifted out of their offices to get a good glimpse of me. They cheered me on as I approached my donor destiny.

I slipped into the thick, cushioned recliner and rolled my neck and shoulders trying to get comfortable. Something clicked and a voice buzzed in my left ear. The pheblotomist handed me a remote control and waved at the television hanging from the ceiling, noting I had my very own set and could watch whatever I wanted.

I never watch TV anymore (I write) and had no idea what to do except flip through channel after channel. When the screen flickered to black and white I knew I'd landed at the right spot. Perry Mason entered the frame and the courtcase began.

My white-coated escort settled at my side and scrubbed at my inner elbow. I turned away. I steeled myself. I stifled a cry. When I turned back I realized she hadn't stuck me with anything and praised myself on my wonderful imagination.

At that point, I had to keep a close eye on her handiwork if only to save myself from embarrassment. The last thing I wanted was for them to call the birthday girl 'the big baby' before anything was accomplished. I barely flinched when things got set in place. Seriously.

I turned the TV volume down low and focused on pumping the hard rubber ball and fulfilling my birthday mission to save a life.

Squeeze, relax, squeeze, relax.

Seven minutes later I had filled my quota and we admired the nice pint my efforts provided.

This is when the party started.

We ripped the plastic cover off the Safeway cake, sliced up polite-sized pieces, and bit into chocolate cake embedded with chocolate pudding. The receptionist fired up the espresso machine and plunked a steaming, hot cup of coffee in front of me and waited for me to pass out.

I stayed upright.

After all, one doesn't have just one piece of cake on the birthday you donate blood.

Should you find yourself in the position to be a donor I highly recommend it. Although my fiction account would have you believe otherwise, the pain is nominal. The results of your gift, however, are phenomenal.

People often think that blood transfusions are only used for trauma and accident victims. In fact, blood transfusions are frequently used for cancer patients, blood & immune system diseases, organ transplantation, surgery, burn patients, and heart & blood vessel diseases. There is no substitute for blood and no artificial blood product. There is no substitute for you.

EACH DAY our community needs 900 people to donate blood. Thank you everyone who participated. Your gift means a family stays intact, a baby breathes, a mom smiles, a dad gets to hug his kid.

And we get to eat chocolate cake.

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Other Lisa said...

I like donating blood. It's relatively painless, and it's something for which money cannot substitute.

The First Carol said...

This was a pretty cool experience and FIRST class all the way. I'm thinking of making it an annual event.

I wonder if you could schedule a book signing at the Blood Center, I mean if you wrote vampire stories and such.

Gloria Ives said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I've written about something I had been unable to write about because of this post.

The First Carol said...

That is so awesome. Thanks for letting me know. I loved your post: Positive Experience. It reminded me of my daughter's emergency which I wrote about here... Really, my kid's fine. Me? Well, I'm a mom..

It ain't easy raising these girls. Sheesh.

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