A Bloody First with a Sweet Finish

(Readers of “Apartment Life” may click here for Part Five.)

I reported to the bloodletting bus precisely on time.

A few of my co-workers rested comfortably on contoured chairs, each of their hearts pumping life-giving crimson into their respective donor bags. A fellow co-worker saw me and said, “Hey, Mikey!”

I chuckled, because I have no idea why he always calls me that any time he doesn’t use my full name.

Have you ever had head or brain surgery with a transplant of brain covering (dura mater)?

That was one of the many questions I had to answer when I gave blood for the first time.

On Tuesday.

That’s a personal question, no doubt, but it didn’t compare to the others regarding whether or not I’ve had sex in any (specifically listed) foreign countries. I’ve never even visited one, so I breezed through the many questions regarding travel abroad in the past 12 months, receiving a transfusion in the United Kingdom since 1980, etc. Curiously, none of the questions singled out Canada; I suppose because it’s on the same continent.

I’ve never been particularly frightened of shots or needles. I don’t think anyone truly enjoys it, but some are much more nonchalant than I. Or are they less chalant? Nevermind.

I realized that I had no good reason not to donate. I’m healthy, and now that I have a child I would be unable to bear the thought that someone else could lose a son, daughter, or other loved one because millions of folks like me don’t give blood.

In three days I can go to a provided Web site and find out my blood type and view the results of a simple cholesterol screening. They test that using a small pouch that I bled into before the nice phlebomotist with an African accent diverted the flow to the donor bag.

For those who have never donated, and may or may not have ill-conceived consternation regarding the process, here’s my detailed personal account.

I was scheduled for 9:15. Due to a high number of first-time donors (and their need to fill out the long form), I was asked to come back in 15 minutes. So, I finished a couple of quick tasks at my cube and headed back out to the waiting Carter Blood Care bus.

When I returned, I was welcomed by a woman wearing pinkish-purple lipstick and matching eyeliner. She was very cordial as she had me fill out a short form, then enterd the information into her computer and handed the form back to me. “We don’t keep anything like that now” because of security risks, she said.

Just as I completed the thorough long form, a man opened a door and asked me to come in. He asked me for clarification on a few of my answers (what pills had I taken within the last four weeks, etc. It was just Ibuprofen, by the way. The rest is none of your beeswax). He pricked my finger to test my iron levels, and then took my blood pressure (110/80) and my pulse (60 bpm). No wonder I’m always cold at the office.

Next he handed me two forms and sent me to what I affectionately call the draining chairs. A nice man introduced himself as my phlebotomist and wrapped a strap tightly around my upper arm. He had me hold and squeeze a stress ball to help him find and sterilize a site suitable for his needle.

Then he committed venipuncture. In front of everybody.

Under orders to squeeze the stress ball every five seconds, I geeked out and monitored the time on the digital part of my watch. Wow, this could get old, fast. We all lay there bleeding, the overplayed Nickelback song “Photograph” filling the bus.

Before the advertisers could convince me to run down to the local Ford dealer, my phlebotomist pulled the Velcro strap loose from my arm, withdrew the needle, and pressed a piece of gauze against the puncture site. “Put pressure here and raise your arm.”

After a couple minutes, he instructed me to go to the front of the bus, grab cookies and juice, and sit for five or 10 minutes.

I sat down with a cold bottle of cran-grape and a package of Nutter Butter cookies. After watching one of the Carter employees devour three small packs of Oreos, I grabbed my free XL T-shirt and left the bus.

I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

4 thoughts on “A Bloody First with a Sweet Finish

  1. Cool!

    I first gave when there was a Blood Drive hosted in my high school gymnasium and have been a regular ever since. (I took several years off when I got a few tattoos, since you can’t donate for a year after tats and body piercings. I, uh, don’t have any of the latter.)

    Oddly, though these strange occurrences between us are starting to seem less so, I’m donating tomorrow. I think it’ll be my 47th. Trying something new: just the plasma. They take out the blood, run it through a centrifuge to take off the plasma and then give you back your red cells. Since those are the bits that take eight weeks to regenerate, I can give again in two weeks.

    Hooray for altruism!

  2. Woo hoo, you got to go to the front of the bus!!! I’m just as proud that you’re a blood donor.
    Gotta run. I’m on a mission. (have to find out what and where Si’s tattoos are!)
    Later, Cowboy. :-)
    Oh, btw, do you have any tattoos? I don’t know why I’m asking…

  3. Simon – Wow, you are a regular donor. That deserves a woot. Tats, huh? Wild man.

    Dave – Get back on the bus, y’all!

    Linda – I know. I are special.

    You’re a shameless flirt. Keep it up. No, no tattoos. I’ve never even considered it.

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