[A word of warning: this post is rated PG-13 for arterial spray.* I know! It was awesome!]
*slight exaggeration. but only slight.
Giving blood in a bus parked right in front of your workplace means two things: you get to give blood with your co-workers! Also, you have to give blood with your co-workers. Ha.
My friend Tess and I decided to donate together, since neither of us had done it before. After assuring everyone that, no, I had not had sex with a malaria patient in the past 20 years, I sat in the funny chair and offered up my right elbow for harvest. My right elbow has the best, most visible veins on the planet. So it should have been easier to get it to bleed properly.
I don't know what was going on, but my whole arm went numb and I physically could not squeeze the stupid ball. "Squeeze the ball," the nurse said. "Okay," I said, which was code for, "I can't feel my fingers." Then she told the other nurse, "I need you to look at this." Great. Where did we go wrong, here?
And then my boss walked in.
The other nurse fixed the tourniquet and I could feel my fingers again. She said, "Now it's flying!" She was really nice. They were all really nice. One was just a little tourniquet crazy, I guess.
So it was all hunky for a while, except that Tess finished and went inside, and I was getting bored. And... ow, that kind of hurts. Ow, I'm dizzy. Crap, I didn't eat enough for breakfast. Crap, I might throw up. Crap, I'm sitting face to face with my boss, who will go inside and tell everyone about this (I didn't actually have this last thought, but I should have, because it was true).
"Um, I'm a little lightheaded." Off goes the hat, down goes the seat, up go my knees. Here, have two icepacks. Much better. And then it was over. I held my arm over my head and pressed the gauze with the other hand, but that was my mistake. I suppose I misunderstood the concept of "press." Or, perhaps, my veins were overcompensating for the difficult start. A second later, I thought, Hmm, my fingers are warm and wet. I looked up, and it. was. everywhere.
Soaked through my sleeve, all over the floor, even on my collar a little bit. When I let up pressure for one of the nurses to take over, I think I saw my very first gush of blood. And it was mine. And it was... kind of awesome. It was dense and black more than red, spurting from my arm and running thick on my skin.
I took notes.
I promise I'm not into vampires. Really.
But the best part of the experience was when I leaned my whole arm over a trashcan and two nurses poured peroxide all over my sleeve. Tell you what. Worked like a charm. You'd have never guessed that shirt had seen a drop of blood in its life.
And then Tess came in and said, "Did you pass out?" Thankfully, I never did. I was having adventures with peroxide, instead. On the way out of the bus, I grabbed a cookie, and Tess and I sat on the sidewalk for a minute before going down to the parking lot. It wasn't a very tasty cookie. But it was my prize for giving blood, dangit, and I was going to ENJOY IT.
To celebrate our success, we went and made jewelry.
And after Tess drove me back to Mast, I went inside to say hello. And the first thing I heard a friend say was, "Are you okay now? Jim said you turned green and wouldn't stop bleeding." Oh boy. Did he forget to mention my charming disposition and nonchalance and constant smile and winning attitude? Those were the things I was trying to express. Maybe I AM too small to give blood, even though I passed the weight limit forever ago. Not by a ton, but still. And, I mean, I was laughing. It was funny, especially the peroxide part. But no one will hear the peroxide part. They'll only hear the turning green and bleeding excessively part. Why can't it just be a funny story?
Sigh. I try so hard to never let anyone worry about me. I hate that kind of attention. Don't ask me why. But in writing, I always find myself creating that kind of attention for characters. What does that say about me? On the bright side, now I have a mental inventory of how it feels to lose over a pint of blood. And that's the bright side. Writers and actors are crazy, and I'm both. Go me!