Today, on a whim, I gave some blood.
It's been four years since the last time I gave blood, not because of a medical reason or because I was able to answer "yes" to any of the five billion questions they now ask; I didn't donate because I know that you have to wait a year after getting a tattoo, and I've gotten two in the past four years.
I'm sure you're relieved to know it's not because of "travel[ing] outside of the country for longer than three months between 1980 and 1996."
Also, this is a new question that made me laugh: "Do you have malaria?" Are malaria victims partial to giving blood? I suppose it's good that I have donated before going to Venice; if I ever DO get malaria, I think it will come from those canals. But at least it will be FANCY malaria.
Anyway, it was taking a long time to get everything sorted and answered and test-poked, and I was keeping a close eye on the clock so I wouldn't be late for class.
I always give from my right arm, because I'm left-handed, and my arm always gets super-floppy after giving blood. I like my left arm to be functional. You know, in case of a Punching Emergency.
I squeezed the little ball and the nurse poked my arm and let out an excited gasp. "Oh, that's a GOOD vein," she said.
I looked at the ground, all fake modest, because I do have good veins, but it's not really a topic I can bring up in conversation. How would that go? "Yes, Aunt Becky, and speaking of government bailouts, did you know that I have exceptional veins for giving blood? Good thing, too, because those darn banks are bleeding me dry, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA."
I can't look when the needle goes in, so I didn't even know what was coming at me. The nurse said, "You're going to feel a little pinch." But it wasn't like a little pinch. It was more like a knifing, like in a gang fight. When I looked down at the needle poking out of my Good Vein, I wimpered a little bit.
"That sure is a big needle," I ventured weakly.
"Yes, it is," the nurse agreed in a jovial voice.
The truth is, though, that it wasn't just a big needle. What it was, in fact, was a needle that could double for kitchen plumbing, if necessary. That needle could have held 25 pound weights on either end. That needle could have been part of a game: "Professor Plum, in the conservatory, with the Giant Needle."
I managed to hold myself together, but a freak out was imminent. I calmed down once I got my rhythm going, squeeze the stress ball, release, look at the clock. Squeeze, release, clock.
The bag dropped when it reached one pint, the nurse removed the needle ("Take a deep breath," she said, because you know what stops pain? AIR.), and I held the cotton ball over the puncture wound and raised my arm. It wasn't my first time in the Bloodmobile.
Once the nurse had handed off the bags and vials, she lowered my arm and put a tee-tiny round band-aid over the gaping hole in my vein. She turned away to get the big sticky bandage to wrap around my whole arm and sort of absentmindedly dropped a gauze pad over the band-aid.
Meanwhile, I watched as the band-aid turned red with my blood, which then began spilling out into the gauze, which was quickly soaked. And that's when the blood started running off my arm and onto the floor.
"Ummmm ..." I said, desperately trying to clot my blood through mental exercise. I didn't know what else to say; all the words I thought of didn't seem to make sense to me.
Here are some samples:
"I'M EXSANGUINATING!" <--------- I learned that from CSI.
"I'VE SUDDENLY TURNED INTO A HEMOPHILIAC!" <---------- Which would suggest that I'm a Russian princess.
"NO VAMPIRES! NO VAMPIIIIIIIIIIIRES!!!" <------- I may have watched Twilight this week.
"I'M DYING!! I'M DYING!! What a world, what a world." <------- Sometimes simple is best. Also, Wizard of Oz allusions are classy!
When the nurse turned around, she yanked my arm into the air and applied pressure. I lay back and prepared to die as prettily as possible. I was glad I wore a purple shirt today; it looks so good next to pale skin. And it doesn't show blood stains as much.
Oh, the best thing is that, while all this was going on, the bell rang. The nurse cleaned me up as quickly as she could, and I managed not to faint by using Lamaze techniques and counting to 100 in my head.
I was only a couple of minutes late to class, and I told my kids that if they got on my nerves, and my blood pressure rose, my veins would start to spurt blood and I'd die right there in front of them and it would be ALL THEIR FAULT.
(I don't often get to make threats, but when I do, they are GOOD.)
P.S. I didn't even get any cookies. So it was all for naught. Boo.