I have been a virgin to the blood donation process until this past Monday. My work decided to host a blood drive. It’s never looked like anything I wanted to do because I’ve always seen a bunch of people strapped to stretchers with needles in their arms and a vat of blood hanging from them. Then I start to worry and freak out about numerous possible disasters that can occur with donating.
Are they going to use a clean needle? What if they miss my vein and it collapses and my entire arm turns blue? What if the bag of blood explodes and goes all over me (that stain would NEVER come out, by the way), what if during the pre-screen they discover that I have cancer or west nile or Hepatitis A or diabetes or something else bad?
You get the idea….
So, I was thinking, God forbid, “what if Celie needed blood and people acted like me and didn’t donate?” That would be terrible so I made the decision to donate. Of course I went to lunch first so I could donate after a full stomach. I go into the “Blood Mobile” – not kidding – and there awaits a nice lady who checks me in. I have to read all this literature, fill out a form and give her some other necessary info. While I wait, I notice how nice the Blood Mobile is. I mean, this thing is really set up for some serious blood donors. There are tons of u-shaped, reclined seating and it is super clean. So I’m done with all my pre-work and then I’m taken into an office with a very, very scary man. Not scary like he’s going to beat me up, but scary like, “I bet you own a van with no windows and are “online” every night” kinda scary. He totally freaked me out. Not to mention he was a smoker – WHO HAD JUST SMOKED! So I’m in this 2’ x 2’ office (and he’s a very large man) and I can barely breath because he’s just had a pack of Marlboro’s. So he takes my bp, pricks my finger to test my iron, takes my temp (orally thank you very much) and has to ask me questions – yes, more questions.
He says: “Have you ever had sexual contact with a prostitute or anyone who would exchange sex for drugs or money?”
Me: “Um, no.”
Him: ““Have you ever had sexual contact with anyone who has used needles to administer drugs to themselves?”
Me (to myself): “Sarah does have a colorful past…….”
Him: “Have you ever had sexual contact with a man?”
Me: “EXCUSE ME????? What do you mean, EVER? Sorry to disappoint you, but no, I haven’t. And furthermore, just what are you trying to imply????”
Him (as he shows me his list of questions): “It’s just a follow up question I am required to ask.”
Me: “Oh, I see. Well, the answer is still no.”
Let me stop here…………
On what professional questionnaire form is “ever” even a choice? Can’t you just see it, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” “EVER????” Like it’s going to slip your mind. EVER????????
So then he asks: “Have you been in contact with anyone who has had the smallpox vaccine?”
Me: “Um, my daughter just got some vaccines on Friday.”
Him: “Was it for smallpox?”
Me: “Um, I don’t think so, just the usual 15 month set.”
Him: “Well, does it include smallpox.”
Me: “I have no idea.”
Him: “Does she HAVE smallpox.”
Him: “Then why would she have the vaccine.”
Me: “I don’t know, I’m just telling you that she had some vaccines and I’m never really sure what they are.”
Him: “Well, has she had smallpox before?”
Me: “No she’s 15 months old.”
Him: “Then why are we talking about this???”
So I finished up with Freaky Freddie and moved on to my next station. They asked if I wanted my left or right arm stuck. I really didn’t care, so I said left. Then Gabby, that was the nurse, pulls out a needle with the circumference of a pencil and says, “this is the part where people usually look away.” I said, “not so fast! Here’s the deal. You get one shot with me. ONE SHOT. There’s no searching for the vein, repeated sticks, digging around, none of that. ONE SHOT. If you can’t do it, I’m outta here.” Gabby said, “Sir, are you aware of how much time you’ve already spent in here prepping for this?”
“Yes I am, but I’m telling you, one shot and one shot only.” She then leaves to go conference with another “nurse.” She comes back, puts this thing on me to tighten up my arm (which I think she pulls extra tight for her own enjoyment, and off she goes. Lucky for her, she got it first time. So I sat there, terrified to move my arm for fear of screwing up my vein. She kept checking on me. It was almost like being on an airplane. Although, that would be a really weird airplane where people have needles in their arms all down the aisle. Then I started to think about how this could totally be a plot for a movie where Freaky Freddy drives off while I’m giving blood and they use me as a science experiment. So I freaked myself out about that a little.
Gabby came and pulled my needle out. My first question was how to remove the five gallons of iodine she put on my arm. She sorta rolled her eyes and said, “I’m about to do that.” I mean, excuse me, but I was wearing a long sleeved, sorta pricey, shirt and I didn’t want it to be ruined. Geeze. So, Gabs removed the iodine, bandaged me up and said, “Ok, you’re all set, now what would you like to drink?” I said, “Oh refreshments, how nice” and she kinda cut me off. “No, not refreshments, more like requirements.” I didn’t follow her, but whatever, right? So I said, “I’ll have a water, I guess.” She quickly informed me that water wasn’t an option. So I thought, “well, what are the options??? Ok, I’ll take a diet Pepsi if you have Pepsi products.” “Diet isn’t an option either” she said.
“What do you mean, ‘not an option’.” She then told me that they had to pump me full of sugar so my options were all full calorie soda or some pineapple-orange juice. I immediately started sweating because full calorie sodas are a big NO-NO on Weight Watchers. So I went for the Sierra Mist, I thought “well, at least it’s clear.” Then she pulled out the big guns……
“Do you want Oatmeal Raisin or Chocolate Chip cookies?”
“I have to eat cookies too????? I mean, can’t I just have the soda????” “No, you have to have the cookies too so which do you want???” I tried to explain to Gabby that I didn’t want the cookies because I’m on Weight Watchers and that prepackaged cookies were an instrument of the devil and I really needed to not have them. But she didn’t care. I felt like I was in trouble because she made me sit there and eat two ENORMOUS, BASEBALL SIZED COOKIES until everything was gone. After doing some investigation, no one else had to stay in the Blood Mobile to eat their snacks. Just me.
I’ll have you know that the little “sugar snack” was NINE OF MY POINTS for the day. Do you know that I make six inch sub sandwiches that are less points than that?????
So I say to Danielle, “Is this all just a ploy to make people fat so we all have to be on medications? Is it just some vicious cycle to promote the health care industry?”
And with that comment, she sent me on my way.