Whenever I hear someone say they gave blood, usually the person(s) hearing this will fly up their own arse explaining why they themselves can’t do the same. This is kind of annoying because the fact is, most who don’t donate could (only 3 out of every 100 Americans do).
So just to be clear, the correct response when you hear someone has given blood? “Oh wonderful for you! Good job.” Something along those lines. Keep your non-donation explanation (justified or no) to yourself.
So me, I’m one of those Special Snowflakes who can admit straight-out the reason I haven’t given blood often is: I don’t like it. Despite the fact I don’t like it, and I never have, I used to give about once a year. One time I was rejected – for being pregnant, which seems very conservative and silly, because I was as healthy and hale a motherfucking draft horse – so I took this opportunity to not give for years.
The truth is, giving blood terrifies me. It doesn’t hurt, not really – I mean even when the proverbial screw-up is made and they “dig around” in my arm trying to get purchase (yes, I know some of my readers are cringing at the thought) – it doesn’t really hurt all that much (Hello! I’ve had two babies and kidney stones. Nothing “hurts” anymore compared to that junk). But there’s something… something unsavory. I get this way to an almost identical degree about any kind of needle puncture, including my vitamin shots at my ND. My breath catches, I have to focus on calm, my head swims ever-so-slightly, and I question Why on earth am I allowing this to happen? A piddling response, I know, but a real one. After all, our skin is designed to keep breaches out. Maybe my brain and gut know this, and agree with the basic premise.
Nevertheless today when I saw the bloodmobile here in HQX I knew I should suck it up and donate. It wouldn’t kill me. It would help someone else (I mean really help). I wasn’t even going to faint or have anything silly happen. I’d just be very upset for a few minutes. That’s it. So after Homeschool Swimming my mom picked up Nels for a date. Sophie and I got our lunch and travelled back to the bloodmobile. My daughter elected to stay and keep me company (winning out over video games in the YMCA Game Room – impressive). Once she understood the ramifications of giving blood she was very proud of me*, which made me proud of her.
I was the last appointment of their day. The employee (phlebotomist?) who assisted me was having a short-timer afternoon. She moved very quickly and brusquely and I was a bit worried she wasn’t going to be detail-oriented and I’d end up bleeding out like a stuck pig or some other humiliating thing. Of course she did wonderfully and was very kind once I was flowing. She kept asking, “Are you feeling OK?” because I kind of didn’t seem so; she praised me for donating despite discomfort. We also joked about the “sciencey” white robes they wear, which of course would show a single drop of blood far too easily.
I got through it just fine (after eight-plus years of non-donation) and now I feel good about myself and ready to resume my regular donor status.
And that five PM clove cigarette gave me that much more of a buzz.
* How awesome is Sophie’s social conscience? Pretty awesome. Last night at dinner I was telling my husband about an article I’d read online regarding public “table manners” for children and babies, discussing the oft-given frowny-face and disparaging of mothers who breastfeed anywhere public. Sophie, listening in, gave a short laugh. “Breastfeeding at the table? That’s actually quite appropriate,” she said calmly in her duck-voice. Sophie on social justice, FTW.