As I prepared to punch the nearly quarterly clock at “Vampires R Us”, I was soon to find out my blood letting of choice was not available! A compromise was reached, and this is how it went….
The same pleasant lady greeted me at the front desk at Carter Blood Care. (I have periods of blood giving frequency. Presently, I am trying hard to give at every opportunity. My favorite giving of choice is “double red”. They pump blood out and then pump it back in after the red blood cells are removed) My goal is to only submit myself to a needle every 16 weeks. This gives me the satisfaction of doing good and only having to deal with the annoying screening process as infrequently as possible. Less annoying means I don’t make excuses for doing something good. Our encounter went like this:
As the greeter got me to sign in and gathered the necessary IDs, she asked me,"What blood type are you?" Without hesitation, I said, "O+". (I didn't say "plus sign", it was just easier to type.) "And, what type of donation did you want to do today?", she inquired. "Double red.", I said without hesitation. With a slight pause she stated, "We are not taking double red for O+ today, but we can use your platelets or whole blood. Can I go ahead and get you going on a platelet donation?" Now, my turn to hesitate. "How long does it take?" "It may take up to 2 hours.", she informed me. "Since I haven't done platelets before, I guess I can do it once.", I replied with additional hesitation. "Great! With platelets you can come back and give again in 2 weeks. (Note my previous comments about quarterly time clock punching.) Have you taken aspirin in the past 48 hours?" "Unfortunately, I have.", I mumbled.(Aspirin thins the blood & frustrates the platelet gatherers.) "Then, lets go ahead and get you in for whole blood today!" "Okay. At least I will get out quickly.", I said as I acquiesced.
The rest of the donation went pretty uneventfully. My “screener” had to spend some extra time making sure our cruise in the Caribbean did not give me a “fail” for today’s donation. One woman I met in the reception area was there for “mommy time” while doing platelets. She was trying to sell me on how great it is doing platelets. She brings her own movies and just enjoys herself for 2 hours. Unfortunately, while I was giving, I saw her walk out after leaving the screener’s door. For some reason, she didn’t make it past the screening process. Maybe an aspirin or a tattoo or a fail on any of those other crazy questions regarding where you have been, who you have been with, or what you have done to your body lately.
After meeting my “blood collection technician”, I couldn’t help but ask if she was pregnant. (I guess it takes guts to ask this of the woman poking you with a needle, but sometimes I just need to know. The same question at a garage sale we hosted did not turn out as well…) She answered “yes”, and we had a brief discussion on, “If you are going to have a toddler boy with long hair you should at least dress them in something not gender-neutral to save ‘friendly’ people from any embarrassment when asking what you call your daughter.” Since it only took 8 minutes to fill the bag, it did not allow for much additional conversation. Once the bag was full, she gave a tug on the needle and asked me to put a little pressure on the “entry point”. The blue, stretchy wrap she used to circumnavigate my arm had a duel purpose. Besides holding the gauze in place over the wound, the “blue, stretchy wrap” roll doubled as my squeezy toy I was instructed to squeeze every few seconds while my blood was filling the bag.
It ruined my day to be told I would need to limit my tobacco and alcohol usage, but some how I found the strength to rise off the gurney to engage in the final part of the ritual – the snack. Once the snack and liquid were consumed (They asked I sit 10-15 minutes before leaving. Really, more of a guideline then a rule.), I had a brief dialogue with the nurses closest to the snack area.
"You feeling okay?, she asked. "Considering it is my first time giving, I guess I am okay.", I said while taking a step with a slight deliberate stutter in it...almost a tripping motion. "Could almost give in your sleep, huh?", she replied in a non-concerned manner. "Pretty much", I said as I tripped the rest of the way out the door. (not really)
The greeter/good-byer couldn’t help but ask if I would schedule my next appointment. I don’t blame her persistence. However, I am the kind of guy who digs in his heels if he has to continue saying, “No” to the same question. Since they didn’t want my blood in its desired form today, I did have some concern whether they would even want my old, boring O+ on January 15th. As good as it feels to give blood to help others, bleeders can be choosers.