February 07, 2011

my heart bleeds for you

If God wanted me to give blood, He would've put a spout on my neck.

At least, that used to be my stance. See, I don't bleed. The very few times I have had blood drawn have been less-than-pleasant experiences entailing multiple phlebotomists, multiple needle insertions and multiple bruises.

But a couple of years ago, I decided to put on my big girl panties and get over myself.

I am now a blood donor.

When you give blood, the Red Cross wants to know four basic things:
1. Have you been outside the U.S.?
2. Do you have a disease?
3. Do you now, or have you ever, taken drugs?
4. Is it possible you could have an STD?

But the Red Cross can't risk your forgetfulness, so they ask these four basic questions 172 times in various formats in complete confidentiality behind a very private tri-fold cardboard divider.

So after being reminded that my blood type is "A plus" (of course it is . . . would you expect LESS than perfection from me???), I answered the first few questions something like this:
1. Have you had an accidental needle-stick? YES
(just last month while attempting to thread a sewing needle without my glasses.)
2. Are you a coke addict? NO
(I used to be, but I switched from Coke to Diet Coke last year.)
3. Have you ever been paid for sex? UNSURE
(My husband once left some change on the dresser, and I took it as payment for services rendered. Does that count?)

Apparently, I wasn't understanding the questions fully, which explains why the Red Cross goes on to ask 169 more pointed questions before they take your blood, like:
11. Do you suck down those orange-flavored baby aspirin like they are Sweet Tarts?
28. Could you possibly be a hemophiliac due to the fact that you are 5th in line to the royal throne of Luxembourg?
61. Did you ever have to deboard your 747 in Botswana en route to Frankfurt, Germany following your 1995 trip to the Rugby World Cup in South Africa, and in doing so, accidentally come in contact with a Macaque monkey?
76. Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Once I made it through the list of questions, the finger prick to note my iron level, and a quick check of my temperature and blood pressure, I am given a free t-shirt, an armload of papers and rubber tubing, and sent to a room with a lawn chair and great 80's music where it appears I should expect a pedicure and a margarita. But no. (though there is the promise of a snack once they finish removing all the leeches.)

I won't lie, giving blood is not completely painless, but surprisingly, it's no big deal, even without a spout on my neck. Besides, less than 5% of the U.S. population gives blood on a regular basis, and my little pint has the potential to save three lives. Three. Maybe a premature baby. Maybe a heart patient. Maybe you.

Besides, where else can you lose a pound in 10 minutes and be rewarded with Cheez-Its and a Sprite?

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