Our church believes in giving, so on some regular schedule that I have never figured out, the blood bus shows up for everyone to donate blood. I have always had a slight aversion to needles, especially those piercing my skin.
It's not that it hurts overly much, but the anticipation of it nearly drives me to tears. Oh, who am I kidding?! It has driven me to tears on more than one occasion, which is almost always embarrassing (eyes watering, not sobbing. I'm not THAT wimpy).
But since it seems unlikely that I will be able to save lives in the normal course of my daily routine, I think it's important to give blood and make the effort at saving lives that way.
A couple of years ago, I was settled in one of the bus recliners with a nice cup of OJ, trying hard not to pay attention to the nurse about to stab me in the arm. I usually talk non-stop to the other people in the bus in my efforts to ignore it (and those of you making mental comments asking how that is different from any other time I'm talking should be ashamed of yourselves).
Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through my arm, much more than the normal prick of the needle. The nurse gasped as I looked at my arm (my first mistake...well after signing up to give blood, so I guess my second mistake). The needle had missed the vein entirely and was cross-ways under the skin, perpendicular to the rest of my arm (making a T shape for those of you who are visually oriented not vocabulary oriented).
Truth be told, the pain was not that bad, but the sight of that needle under my skin making it protrude out to a point on one side nearly made me wet my pants. In fact, just typing it and picturing it makes me cross my legs tighter just in case my bladder goes. I shuddered all over with the heebie-jeebies (like when you get a chill) and asked her what happened.
She said she missed the vein. Duh. She said she needed to get a supervisor. Duh.
I couldn't stop staring at it. Other people on the bus couldn't stop staring at it. The supervisor came, and she even stared at it for a while.
"Well, it's going to have to come back out, and that's probably going to sting."
You think????? I'd like to remind you that the anticipation is what kills me with the needle, so thinking about it having to get back out from under my skin was almost bad enough to just tell her we'd leave it in. But it looked so grotesque, all pointy and protruding, and I thought it may just break through the skin some day and ruin a favorite shirt or something. So I told her to go ahead and take it out.
She cheerfully explained that my other arm had a beautiful vein that would be easy to hit.
I looked at her like she had obviously lost her mind and apparently thought I had lost mine.
"Oh, no, ma'am!" I protested. "Once you get this needle out of my arm, I am done. You have gotten the last drop of blood from me. Thanks anyway."
So all in all, she got it out pretty quick, and other than a bruise it had no lasting effects. Well, other than I would walk a wide berth around the blood bus after that.
Until yesterday. Usually you get a t-shirt for giving blood. I like t-shirts, but it's not the reason I gave blood, and it's certainly not worth going back under the needle. But yesterday they were giving away a free movie ticket.
Now those of you that know me understand that I will do most anything legal for a free movie ticket. And it's Christmas season . . . prime movies coming out every weekend, people. So I decided to suck it up after two years blood-dry and give a pint to save lives (and get a movie ticket).
So after answering questions about diseases I never even heard of (I figure if I never heard it, I don't have it) and marking off the applicable travel answers on the questionnaire, I ended up in front of a nurse (are they nurses? or just blood staff? I don't know. I always assumed they were nurses, but now, I don't know. For the purposes of ease in typing, I'll just say Nurse for the following conversation.)
Me (enthusiastically): "Paris."
N (bored and unenthusiastic): "Where did you go in Paris?"
M: "All over really. And we went to the Loire Valley one day."
N (looking slightly annoyed): "I just need to know where you went in Paris."
M (feeling reprimanded): "Oh. Well, all over the city. The monuments, museums."
N (interrupting me and now really annoyed and rolling her eyes while sighing heavily): "What CITIES did you visit in Paris?" (CITIES stressed heavily, and spoken loudly and slowly as if I were stupid)
M (slightly confused): "Paris is a city."
N: (without the slightest "oh, yeah, that's right" dawning of recognition): "It is? Oh, well then, what country did you visit?"
M: "France?" (I add a question mark at that point because I was still confused)
N: (visibly aggravated and scratching out where she had written Paris on the paper): "I was supposed to write that first. Now where did you go? What country?"
N: "I have to check and see if that is a malaria zone."
M: "I don't think it is."
N: "Well, I have to make sure."
She took down a large white binder and flipped to a laminated page titled "Safe Countries". I watched as she carefully ran her extremely long, manicured, and rhinestoned nail down the list of countries starting with a P.
N: "It's not in here. Must be a malaria zone."
M: "That's a list of countries. You have to look for France." (Which I could see clearly under the Fs as I read upside down).
She glared at me like I had asked her to recite the list in Pig Latin, but quickly found France once she looked under F.
N (annoyed and condescending): "You should have told me what country you went to and then I would have asked you the city."
Okaaaaay. Will you be handling my blood today? Or anyone else's blood?
12-6-12: UPDATE: I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that I went through with the donation, and it all worked out fine! In and out, quick pinch, quick pint, and all was well. Please don't let my whining or my wimpiness discourage you from giving. It truly saves lives, and it is one of the most important gifts you can give! And trust me, the little smidge of pain/panic that the needle causes is much less traumatic than whatever the person on the other end who needs the blood is going through! So give blood!!! With or without a movie ticket!