Wednesday, October 10, 2007

O Positive

I'm nervous about giving blood. But I am resolved to try and hope it goes very smoothly.

But things look brighter this morning somehow. I'm hoping my mood is taking a turn for the better. So far, things that are making me happy include the following:

It's cooled down here! I opened the house last night, thrilling Mr. Sprout by the ability to sit in the windows and experience the world. It also made the walk with Miss Chienne this morning quite enjoyable. No sweating and lovely breeze and the sunshine felt nice on my skin. It could be cooler, of course, but I am content for now with the not-insanely-hot weather.

My yard - in contrast to its former state - looks so pretty. I have happy, little flowers in orange and pink and purple. Sprout hid in them before he moved in last year and I'm fond of my little garden. I killed my hanging plant that resided on the porch but replaced it with this happy little bug sculpture with bells for feet. It's silly and adorable and my porch is tucked in the corner of my house so I'm not disturbed by constant bug-feet-bell ringing.

My pictures arrived! Mom and Dad mailed them last week and I checked the mail to find them this morning before proudly hanging them on my fridge.

"Can you color one for me too?" I asked Little One when we were talking on the phone. Since Grandma was in the hospital, she was getting a picture colored. I was in the hospital too, so I wanted one to bring home.

"Yeah." She said, singing out the word.

"You're not too busy?" I asked her.

"I am kind of tired." She replied with a sigh, considering the doubling of her current workload.

"Oh." I said with a smile. "Well, maybe you could rest before you color my picture. Or do it tomorrow."

"Yeah." She said again. "I'll probably watch a movie first. Then I'll do your picture."

"I forgot it!" I gasped at Dad when I was almost done with my trip home. "I wanted it and I forgot my picture on the table!" He promised to mail it and with my large picture of Dora and Boots, I received a lovely picture of Puss in Boots from a Shrek coloring book. Dad - in appreciation for my help when I was home - colored me something also. It made me smile.

I ordered a new laptop bag for my interview. It's very pretty and should arrive tomorrow. I'm also looking forward to the trip with only moderate nervousness. It should be good to get the first interview out of the way and see what my corporate options are.

My massage yesterday worked well. I'm not nearly as stiff and achy. She even worked with my ankle and eased some of that lingering soreness.

****

"I did well." I told Mom proudly after I walked from the section of the hospital that held the Blood Mobile. She had earlier said I was unlikely to follow through. I acknowledged that while I hate needles and am sickened at the sight of blood, I thought I could do it.

I arrived and gave the informational packet the same focused attention I offered the safety card in the seat pocket in front of me on my first trip on a plane.

"I've never done this before." I told the woman when I placed my booklet on the pile of others and signed in, checking the sheet in the column for Yes. It was my first time donating. "I'm very nervous." I told her and she smiled and offered me a sticker.

"They'll take good care of you." She assured. "Put this on and take a seat inside."

After a deep breath, I tentatively entered the room and glanced around before deciding to keep my eyes away from any possible blood. I was soon taken to a chair surrounded by shoulder-high cardboard walls that were looking a bit worse for wear.

"First," Andre said with a pretty accent I think was Caribean, "we check your vitals and blood. Then, if that goes well, you answer some questions. You ask questions if you have them."

I nodded, repeating again that I was nervous. "I don't like needles." I warned him as he took one out to prick my finger with this tiny black box. He smiled and said it would be quick. I made a face at the tiny sting, eager to protectively pull my hand to my chest and apply pressure to my tiny wound.

"Your blood pressure is very high." He noted. "You are nervous. Try to calm down." He added kindly. "But your iron is good, and everything else looks fine. So we move on to the questions."

He left me alone to touch the screen of the laptop to make sure I wasn't infected. (What is it, by the way, about spending time in the UK? Africa, I assume, is malaria based. But I could have spent more time in Europe than the UK according to my questions. I'm fond of the British - what's wrong with their blood? And how could I have caught it if I lived there for too long?) He returned to ask me about my trip to England, but that was all. I'm rather boring and healthy - no reason not to take my blood.

"I'll give you someone good." Andre assured me, putting me on a chair that reminded me of cheap outdoor furniture with its plastic straps. I laid my head back, crossed my ankles that were stretched in front of me and tried to relax.

"I don't like needles." I told Lisa when she came over. "Or blood. Please don't hurt me."

She smiled and patted my arm after asking to see both. She nodded and said she thought I'd do very well. "But you are bright red." She said. "Don't be so nervous that I think twice about sticking you."

"OK." I said, trying to breathe and think about something nice. All I could consider was needles and blood and pain. Someone put my tube and baggie on my tummy and I glanced down at them with some queasiness. But soon enough, Lisa put the blood pressure cuff around my arm, marked two very good veins in my right arm and returned with cleaning materials after checking to make sure I wasn't allergic.

"You know how it feels when you get alcohol in a cut? That miserable sting?" I nodded fearfully. "It's like that. Then it doesn't hurt at all. The finger prick is worse than this part and you did fine with that." She patted me again when I continued to peer up at her with terror. "You'll be fine." And she started to swab my elbow with yellow stuff. She did that for a long time. I looked toward the door and wondered if I should leave.

You can do this, I told myself firmly. You're young and healthy and your lifestyle is completely boring. If you're not going to have wild sex, you should at least give your no-way-it's-infected blood.

"Little pinch." She warned and I scrunched my face. I soon became alarmed when it continued to hurt. How long did I have to do this? 15 minutes? It hurt!

"It still stings." I told her.

"That's because I cleaned it really well." She assured me. "It'll stop in 60 seconds. You squeeze every 5-10 seconds for me and call if you need help."

I nodded, already counting down the seconds until the mild pain eased and making sure I squeezed enough. It didn't take a full minute for the sensation to subside and I was soon trying to relax against the awareness that there was a needle in my arm. It wasn't bad - didn't hurt at all - but I wanted to be done. But I continued to count and squeeze my little pill-shaped ball. I decided to consider the "one saves three" phrase they kept telling me. What if one of my three needed more than one unit of blood? I wondered how much anti-depressant hung out in my blood and decided it probably was negligible. If not, perhaps my people would become a tiny bit happier when they got my blood.

I was smiling at myself when Andre came to check on me. "How are you feeling?" He asked.

"Fine." I told him truthfully. "How am I doing?"

"You're done." He said, smiling and I blinked.

"Already? That was fast."

"Five minutes, 23 seconds." He said and I thought my high blood pressure might have helped with the speed of my donation.

"I'm efficient." I said proudly. "And now I'd like this needle out."

"Soon." He said and I turned my head to avoid seeing any of the process. "I need to fill these vials for the testing. It won't hurt at all - no more sticks. I just use this to fill them." There was a slight tug at the tape on my wrist as he popped various vials on and off. I kept my head turned and started when he told me to hold the pressure. I looked down with relief at the white gauze square on my elbow. It was over and I hadn't felt the needle come out.

I sighed with relief and started to feel absurdly proud of myself. It had been hard but I'd done it. And it wasn't at all awful. I put my arm above my head, keeping the pressure on my elbow with two fingers of my left hand and watched - for the first time - the sight of my blood being carried to a nearby table and scanned in. The vials were banded to the baggie and the tube coiled neatly to the package. The substance inside looked nearly black and thick and I glanced around to make sure the other volunteers were producing similar results. I nodded when I saw they were and felt my stomach clench warningly so I looked away from the blood that had just been inside me as it now sat inside a baggie on a table.

I walked across the room after thanking Lisa and Andre for being so patient and kind. I had some juice and took a brownie. I called Mom on my way back across campus - she was surprised and proud and laughed at my story. I felt weird after arriving at my desk. A bit woozy and odd.

Propter Doc was right, I thought. I was a bit worn down and I think this is going to make me a bit ill. A meeting was canceled so I came home to have some lunch and take a nap. And now I feel fine, having removed my red bandage and looking at the teeny tiny spot just below my elbow where the needle went in.

It was, I think, a rather good day. And now I shall take it easy for the evening. I deserve it, I think. I gave blood today.

5 comments:

Alethea said...

That's looking on the bright side of life - well done. Perhaps the massage has helped your mood, too? Patience... this too, will pass.

Lucy said...

Good for you! I'm glad it wasn't too bad.

The UK is a problem because of the mad cow disease outbreak a while ago. I had a nurse ask me if Commonwealthland counted as part of the UK once, even though it's on the other side of the world...

Estrella said...

I'll echo lucy's "Good for you!" I'm terrified of needles and pain, and I've never had the courage to donate blood. Reading this makes me feel a little better; perhasps someday I'll be brave enough to donate too.

Psychobunny said...

Good job! You totally just inspired me to try again to give blood.

(I don't mind needles, but the thought of a cold metal tube stealing my blood freaked me out a lot the first few times I tried. And if your pulse goes over 100, they won't let you donate. So now all I have to do is glance at a Bloodmobile and my pulse skyrockets. That's conditioning for you, I guess. :) )

chall said...

About the restrictions about donating. Africa is mainly because of malaria but also since it is a higher incidence of lechmanisis (can't spell it) and other parasites that could maybe be transmitted via blood.

(It is also thought, although it is very non pc to state, that since the incidence of HIV is so much higher in certain areas of Africa that you might have been exposed to transmission if you for example have had a romance or been to the hospital.)

UK, and actually the whole northen Europe is considered because of Cruetz field jacob/Mad cow disease and this especially if you lived in this region for more than 6 months and over 5 yrs ago.... all those burgers with prions you know?! ;)

The funny thing is that back home, i.e. northern Europe, I am not eligable for donating blood for a long while (more than a year) since I now have lived in the States. All due to West Nile virus and the possibility of it existing in the South.

There is no way I can donate anything here, which, to be honest is a big shame since I work close to a hospital that really need platelets for their cancer treated patients. I tried but after realising that I had lived in NE for more than 6 months (I grew up there so duh) I was discarded.

ah well, I am happy that you did it though. It is good to do and especially if you are 0+. You can give to everyone (almost)!

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