Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Give Me My Blood Back!

Today I get to cross an item off my bucket list- donating blood. Normally, such an event would not garner mention in a blog. However, most people don't donate like I do.

It all began in Stats class. Lately, Stats has become increasingly...complicated (sample formula: px(x)=P[X=x]=(M choose x)*(N-M) choose (n-x) all divided by (N choose x)), so I've grown a little resentful of the class. Unfortunately, an assignment was due, so I had to attend.

My Stats friends, Rachel and Dakota, seemed overly excited about something when I sat down. Before I got the chance to notice, though, I was asked, "Are you going to donate blood? You should donate blood."

"...but I like my blood..."

"Oh, you replace the blood you give within around 50 days," replied Dakota. "They barely take that much, too, like 2 small bags." She then mimed a bag about the size of a baseball.

That didn't seem too bad. But still, I wasn't sold.

"I need my blood. I'm accident prone. I lose enough already without giving it away."

This excuse wasn't good enough either. In case I forgot, Dakota reminded me that I'll get it all back in about 2 months, and they don't take that much.

"I'm not a fan of needles."

"But the needles are small and you barely feel a thing," Rachel chimed in.

To be honest, this all seemed pretty good. I've thought about giving blood before, but usually for not very long because the blood I have is doing a fine job of staying inside me. I like my blood inside me. I don't even know what type I am.

"Alright, I think I can do that," I relented.

This seemed to please them, and they began to describe when they first gave blood, and how often, and why they liked it so much, and how much free food was going to be there. Then class started and all was forgotten.

Except by me.

After another class of more letters than numbers, most of which were upper and lower case x, Dakota and Rachel turned towards the tunnel that lead to the Education building and said goodbye. This made it a little awkward since I had decided to follow them to give blood.

"Oh, you're coming this way, too?" asked Rachel.

"Ya. Is this the way to Education? You convinced me to give blood."

"Really? You don't have to," she replied.

"Ya, I'd forgotten we'd asked you!" laughed Dakota. Hey, I love being forgotten about.

So I continued to follow them towards the blood clinic set up in the Education building, though they still seemed confused that I was actually coming. Was I not supposed to? Now I'm confused.

Just before going inside, I pointed to the two girls in front of me and said, "If I faint, I'm blaming you," and we all laughed. Who faints from losing too much blood?

Since Dakota hadn't eaten anything, we went down to the cafeteria and she grabbed a sandwich while I ate an apple I packed. I felt a little hungry, but I had a burger for lunch along with some juice. I was sure I was going to be fine, even though I was a bit nervous.

Finally, we lined up to give away the precious fluid of life in our bodies. I totally wasn't having second thoughts at this time at all. I let Dakota and Rachel go ahead of me, who already had their blood donor cards ready to go. When it was my turn, I was asked if I had donated before, which I said no. The guy behind the desk got a little gleam in his eye and happily grabbed the roll of stickers beside him.

"These are for first-time donors, so the nurses can tell who's never done it before and can help you out. Just put it on your shirt and you'll be good to go."

Great. I love being singled out in a crowd.

The next part was to get a blood test for hemoglobin and stuff. I scored a 179, which is apparently super high and an excellent score. But to get it, they had to prick my finger. This looked like it would hurt a little bit. The volunteer grabbed my finger and squeezed the tip of it, while holding a small pink stabbing device that resembled a really tiny USB drive. I know the finger tip is sensitive, so I braced for a sharp little pain, but instead of going for the tip, she angled my finger ever so slightly and quickly pushed the pink thing into the side, which clicked, then she threw it away and began to squeeze blood from my finger. There was zero pain. It was even kinda cool. Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad. Maybe sharp stabby things aren't to be feared, especially when they're pink. Maybe I'm nervous for nothing.

Now onto the survey. I only could answer yes for three of the first set of questions: Are you feeling good today, do you have a cold/flu/bug/whatever (getting over a cold), and have you been out of the country in the last year (Turkey and Greece trip)? There was one question about if I ever had a seizure or a coma or epilepsy or fainted, to which I said no solely on the fact of the first three. I had fainted a few times before, and even blackout out vision on a gondola once, but this made it seem more serious than I thought my incidents were. I did mention it to the interview lady, who seemed to think I should have put a yes there, but said it didn't really matter. It's quite rare for people to faint while giving blood.

Next was the interview about the more confidential things. Here, my blood pressure and heart rate were tested, both of which turned out fine. The lady interviewing and testing me complimented me on my large blood vessels. I can't say that's a first. She was really nice and helped relieve a lot of my nervous tension accumulated from waiting around. After having a nice chat about visiting Greece and Turkey and discussing the risk of malaria in such places (not in the places I was at, though) with the interview lady, I was ready to give blood. She handed me a bag of what seemed like 27 blood bags and 300 feet of tubes and told me to sit and wait for the nurses to call me. I thought I was only giving 2 bags. How much do they want from me? And just like that, I was nervous again.

Since I wasn't being called when I thought I should be, I began to read my book to kill some time. I started a new one on the life of Cicero, the famous Roman politician. So far so good. But before I could finish the page, I was up.

I was ushered to a large black chair that had a slight include to offer the maximum comfort...or, at least from something designed like a lawn chair. My arm was placed on the cushion on the side, then yanked up as the nurse began to weave the miles of tube around it. There were more nozzles than I ever could have imagined, and what looked like at least 2 different stems to flow into. Then the needle was revealed.

Small? Ya right. I've seem smaller plumbing pipes. It looked more like a straw with a needle, and it was going to be plunged into my arm. Wonderful. Then the nurse handed me a stress ball shaped like the earth. I giggled to myself. I had the whole world in my hand. She then told me to make a fist so the vein would stick up. As is my habit with any needle, I turned away before the nurse stabbed me. I felt it go in every inch. It was unpleasant, but not the worst needle I'd ever had. And just like that, blood began to pour out of me.

Besides the discomfort, it really wasn't that bad. I looked over at the guy beside me to watch him get stabbed (that doesn't bother me as much, for some reason), and saw blood spurt as the needle went in. I then wondered if mine had done that. I didn't see any blood on my arm, though, so I dismissed it. Rachel, now just finishing up giving blood, made faces at me, so I made them back. Then I noticed the nurse take some vials and stick them onto a part of the tube, one at a time, where they shot full of blood. I guess they wanted more than the bag, which was NOT baseball sized (more like 2 coke cans), but I didn't mind, because watching my blood shoot into them was kinda fun. Then I tried to get a good look at my blood bag below, but couldn't really see much. However, I saw enough to mentally claim, "Yeah, that's my blood." Yes, I'm a little weird.

And just like that, I was finished. Then nurse removed the straw-needle, which I again felt every inch, and told me to press a gauze pad on to heal it up. Well, that wasn't too bad. I think they only filled one bag, too. I'm practically done here.

Soon after removing the needle, though, I began to feel a bit light headed, which I took to be my body realizing that it just lost a lot of blood, and didn't consider it to be serious. I've felt light headed before, and usually recovered within a few seconds, so I didn't say anything.


That name. That's my name.


Why are they saying my name?

I looked around at the nurses standing around me. They kept saying my name. I wanted to say, "Ya?" but didn't. Couldn't. What was happening?

"Are you ok, Dayton?"

Finally, I felt I could speak. "Ya, I'm fine."

I then noticed I wasn't holding my gauze pad anymore. The nurse was. Why wasn't I doing that? I was also leaned way back in my chair that was originally upright. Then I noticed that there was another nurse standing beside me that wasn't there a few seconds ago. And another in front. The one beside me was wiping and arm my face with really nice, ice cold water.

"Dayton, you fainted on us."


I couldn't believe I fainted. Well, not entirely. This would happen to me. But still, I fainted. It was more humorous than embarrassing, but only slightly.

My head felt warm, but the ice water was refreshing. The nurse apologized for messing up my hair, but I was ok with that. I've trained my hair to look amazing. Apparently, I caught everyone off guard. My complexion was normal and I gave no normal signs that I was about to pass out. But I have a real problem with subtlety. Within seconds of removing the needle, my body stiffened up and I was out cold. Thankfully, it wasn't while the needle was in.

I was then offered some juice and told to just sit and  relax for a few minutes to make sure I was ok. I felt shakey and a bit weird, but ok. Then I got up and joined Rachel and Dakota at the snack station.

You better believe I blamed them for fainting.

1 comment: