Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh, for the love...

My father always tells me, "You can't save them all, Emily." I tend to disbelieve him. It's not that I want to save everyone or every animal. It's that I want to know that I'm doing all I can to save everyone and every animal.

This is the root of my love/hate relationship with donating blood.

(Side note: Do you donate blood? If not, you should. Don't you want to be certain that should YOU ever need blood there is a ready supply? Go help out. They give you cookies.)

I am notsomuch a fan of needles. One might say that I'm afraid of them. Actually, I take that back. This is not like, say, my fear of cockroaches. It's not a completely debilitating fear. It's more of an intense dislike. I intensely dislike needles when they are being stuck into me.

But it's precisely because of this dislike, and because of the benefits of donating blood to society, that I feel more pressure to actually DO IT. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, right? When you face your fears, or face new challenges, you grow as a person. It's like a logic puzzle. This costs me little or nothing, and the benefits are great. Why NOT do it? I should do this because I can, and because the benefits outweigh some irrational dislike that I may have.

Unfortunately (or fortunately if you look at it as a 'sign from God') I'm slightly anemic. The last three times I've attempted to donate blood, my iron was too low. Oh, darn. I mean, I TRIED, right?

Then again, you don't see me doing anything about the low iron.

So today I decided to attempt the donation again. I figured that if I was turned down AGAIN, I would actually drive myself directly to CVS and purchase an iron supplement, if not a multivitamin that I would actually take daily.

I'm not going to lie. I was nervous. Butterflies-in-stomach, tight-grip-on-my-purse, laugh-too-loud nervous. When they went to prick my finger for the blood sample, I had to take a brief break to giggle for about 45 seconds before I gave her my finger.

The minimum hemoglobin that they accept is 12.5. I came in at 12.6. I was cleared to donate blood.


So I go back to the area with comfy chairs and lots of plastic bags. I was still giggling. When I sat down and the tourniquet was put on, I concentrated on breathing. Just breathing. In. Out. I could do this. In. Out. It's all mind over matter.

Then the person searching for a vein in my left arm called over another technician to assist. They discussed my veins and I heard words like, "Well, that one is okay, I guess." I made a joke about how I was being difficult and my mother would not be surprised. (Surprise! I crack jokes when I'm nervous.) They laughed and called over another technician while the first technician went ahead and checked my right arm, this time using a blood pressure cuff instead of a tourniquet. She told the others that the vein in the left (deemed "okay, I guess") was better than anything she found in the right arm.

A fourth person was called over. She replaced the tourniquet because she was "old school." She didn't even feel the vein that the first technician had deemed the best available. The second and third technician took turns feeling for the vein for varied amounts of success. Finally the first technician declared, "It's there, it's just deep."

Let's take a moment to think about how this was affecting my anxiety, shall we?

Finally the first technician decided to move forward. This is where I stopped watching. The fourth technician, seeing how nervous I was, decided to stand on my right and distract me with conversation. Which was sweet. But I must admit that I have no idea what she was saying since I closed my eyes and concentrated on how this was not going to hurt. I was a strong woman. This was not going to hurt me and I was most CERTAINLY not going to faint.

And it didn't really. I mean, there was the initial prick that wasn't so much fun... but it was over quickly. It's not like I enjoyed the sensation of a needle in my arm. But it was bearable. What do you know?! I actually COULD do this. This was cake.

Until I heard the words, "I can't hit it."

Oh for the love of...

She couldn't hit it. And mercifully, she didn't try more than a couple/three times before admitting defeat. There was no blood donation for me this Thursday afternoon in June.

As the fourth technician talked over me to the first, I asked, "Can I look now?" She responded, "Oh no, honey. It's not ready yet."

I was grateful.

I was told that I could try again when my arm healed. That I could try drinking more water. That might help. That everyone is different and they're thankful that I tried.

So, to sum up, I gathered my courage, faced my fear, went through the worst of it and it was for nothing. I feel like I failed a test, and I can't help but laugh. I mean, who else does this happen to? I do all this prep work and put all this effort into something so difficult for me, and because of something out of my control, I am unable to reach my goal. (I won't even THINK about how terrifying that is.) I have a badge of honor on my arm that indicates that I donated blood (she's such a good person!) but I did not donate blood. I have to laugh because the irony is too great.

At least I still got cookies.

So I'm waiting a couple of weeks, drinking even MORE water, and will try again. Is anyone willing to come with? It's for a good cause! And besides, you'll get to show me up when YOU get to donate blood and I am a FAILURE. Le sigh.


Lindsey Mac said...

I'm 0 for 2 on donating blood without almost passing out.

Sure, they can find my veins and all, but the first time, I all but passed out in the middle, and the second time I was completely fine until the very end, when they had me lower my arm (don't remember why they had me raise it to begin with.)

As I lowered my arm, I felt faint/dizzy/horrible.

That's when I decided to grow my hair and donate it, which explains those awkward years c.2006 when I had crazy long hair. Just look at the England photos if don't remember...

But good for you, donating and all! I should try donating again, one of these days ...but I hate almost fainting, ya know?

punkinmama said...

Drink lots of water the morning of the donation. Also, eat lots of raisins that morning.

I've donated twice (for the first time within the last year). I look at it as a race to see how fast I can fill up that bag. Just ask Gary - I was in competition with him the first time! (I won, of course!) :)

Candace said...

The Red Cross brings a bus around to my work once a year for a donation, otherwise I don't think I would ever put forth any effort to donate.

The upside is it does make you feel good about yourself. Remember that when you try for the second time.

ems said...

Lindsey - I tried the donating of the hair also. It's just that you need SO MUCH to be able to donate. I get antsy when my hair reaches the middle of my back and it's still not enough. Ugh. How about this - you do the hair, and I'll (hopefully) do the blood and we'll have all of it covered between the two of us :-)

punkinmama - I never even THOUGHT of making blood donation competitive. You know I can never back down from a competition. Swell. zlionsfan said he would try donating with me next time. I can already see how THAT'S going to go...

Anonymous said...

I started donating blood years ago when I took my dad in to donate his own blood for his upcoming hip replacement surgery. Usually I don't have any trouble, but I have almost passed out once, and one time the blood clotted up IN THE NEEDLE and for like 4 inches of the tube. That freaked me out and I kept thinking all the rest of the day "did I get a blood clot in my bloodstream? Am I going to give myself a heart attack?!" But it was fine. Since then I have learned to drink massive amounts of water the morning of, and also to go with a full stomach. The water gives good volume and the bag fills quickly, and the food keeps me from getting sick to my stomach from the bag filling quickly.

Good luck on your next attempt!!

Farmerspice said...

alright I'll's one for you. I (yes me) pass out at the sight of my own blood. True story. However, I donate blood. The trick is that they know they always cover my arm where they put the needle in and then lay me back. I bleed out in under 5 minutes and I'm back on my way. I need them to STOP calling me so often and maybe just maybe I'd go back in again but I hate to be annoyed. I know that sounds crazy but they call constantly and just about the time I think I'll go back, I get a cold etc. I'm also low in the iron side. Plus, the new tattoo throws you out for a least a year.