Prior to the trip my son and I are taking next week, I wanted to get my “Give Blood” card punched. The closet Carter Blood Care office is not open on Thursday and Friday, so Monday was the day. When I called they offered me an appointment OR a “come right in and take your chances no one will get there ahead of you.” I did not even get the chance to sit down and wait when I arrived. After reading the literature, they moved me right into the pre-screening room.
This is the room where you can lie (or tell the truth) before being told they won’t be able to take your blood today. The person helping me today was very nice. She did, however, admit to having a vein fetish since she starting working there. She claims she could not go into social settings or spend time with loved ones without trying to see if they had good veins for giving blood. (When giving blood, these veins are typically on the inner elbow.) My two cups of coffee made my blood pressure higher than I wanted. I was not disqualified yet. After she confirmed my blood was “thick” enough for a double red donation (instead of giving every 8 weeks, double red donors give every 16 weeks. They give “double” the amount of red blood cells given by whole blood donors. ) Since it has been over 4 months since I had given blood, the pre-screening questions had changed a little. They are now digging into Zika and whether you may have had contact. They are also tracking whether people have had an endoscopy within the past few months. (The screener had no good explanation why they are doing this. She said neither a “yes” or “no” answer here would throw an error code and prevent you from giving. Answering wrong to the HIV questions, would keep you from donating on that day….or ever.) It was also new for the screener to stay in the room while I answered the questions. Apparently, an “efficiency expert” (she literally told me they had been evaluated to make them run better.) had told them too much time was being wasted by potential donors waiting on staff. Today, things kept moving very nicely.
As I moved to my donor station, I met the nurse (not exactly sure of her official medical designation) who would be “taking care of me”. (In restaurants now, the waitress often says, “My name is Peaches. I will be taking care of you.” The nurse did offer me a drink, but I don’t see the waitress taking my blood….unless I had a really rare type of blood and I was part of some criminal organizations plans to acquire massive amounts of my blood type.) Her name was “Duchess”. While she played nice with me during the entire donation, I don’t think we ever really clicked. It may have been me jokingly offering to give a “triple red” (they don’t do this. It was an obvious attempt on my end to inject humor into a relationship that was not salvageable.) OR her getting irritated with her supervisor looking over her shoulder and “causing” her to make mistakes as she set everything up for my donation OR incessant rambling as I couldn’t help but comment on every part of the double red process. Whatever it was, she outwardly smiled while counting the minutes until I would be gone. (I teased her as the equipment adding 2 minutes to the time of my donation. It started saying I would be done at 10:34. When I was done, it was at 10:36. She didn’t even like the tangent I had about a GPS giving you a certain time when you will get to your destination. As you speed along, the GPS predicts you will get there more quickly. When you make potty/gas/food stops, the goal is to still get to your destination ahead of the first time predicted by the GPS–no time to eat outside of the car.) After the needle was removed, she elevated the donor bed, and she had me spewed into the snack area.
The final stop when they are convinced you are capable of walking under your own strength is the snack bar. I felt obligated to have a Gatorade and some chex mix. (I did grab a bag of peanut butter cookies for my oldest daughter – actions speak louder than words when your kids are teenagers.) The receptionist is never uncomfortable asking multiple times if you are ready to schedule you next appointment. (Next double red would be 16 weeks or sometime last half of August) I kindly refused based on some excuse about, “Tough to schedule anything with school starting up around then.”
While I am glad I give blood, today made me a little gladder. I felt treated like a customer who is there voluntarily to do something I am not getting paid for. Despite the fact Duchess and I didn’t click, I felt “fast-tracked” to the donor station. Although there were easier things to get done and marked off my list today, this is always one I can mark off knowing my list isn’t all about me.