When I was 19, I walked myself from White Hall down to the Union at the University of Wyoming and signed up to donate at the fall blood drive. I answered all the questions, signed off on a few documents and plopped down in the reclined chair, ready to give. After twenty minutes or so of prodding, stabbing and pushing both of my arms, the nurse gave up and told me my veins were simply too small to give. Bruised (emotionally and physically), I left disgruntled and haven’t set foot near a blood drive or bank since.
Over the years, the painful memory from that day has subsided. I’ve told myself that the experience was likely a fluke and I certainly could donate blood. Small veins, large veins, they must have seen them all. So, Item 25 was added to the list: Give Blood.
Last Tuesday, I woke up to a sunny and lovely day in Fort Collins, CO. I dressed myself for the warm weather and set my sights on crossing an item off my List. I called the Poudre Valley Hospital and inquired about blood donation times, locations, etc. No appointment necessary and a whole lunch hour to kill, I decided that day was the day I’d try to donate again.
Upon arriving, I explained my desire to donate and got to work answering questions about recent trips and all sorts of other things. A nice lady pricked my finger and determined I was not anemic. Good to know. She set me up in a teal recliner, explained the process (that I had planned to document here but have since decided is really quite dull) and cleaned my arm for the inevitable poke.
Well, she poked me. And then poked me again, and moved the needle (by the way, those things are ENORMOUS) and poked and moved again. Looking a bit disheartened, she called over the pro-phlebotomist, let’s call him Joe, for assistance. He took at look at my untapped vein while pushing on my arm and telling me to squeeze the stress ball they’d provided.
Up until now, I had been pretty quiet about the pain I was feeling because I thought I was being a sissy. I concentrated on keeping my aching howls between my pursed lips as he determined that the left arm was not going work. I breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled the giant piece of pointy metal out of my arm, only to gasp the breath back in when he said, “Well, lets try the other side.”
At this time, I felt compelled to tell him about my previous encounter with blood bank personnel and my very tiny veins (which I think made him nervous). He studied my right arm for several minutes and stated that a smaller needle would be most appropriate (huh, really??). Once again, they cleaned, provided me with a stress ball and started stabbing away.
Suddenly….success! I started flowin’ into the plastic apparatus they’d strung up below me and all seemed to be in working order! I cheered! Joe cheered! The lady who stabbed my left arm cheered and some folks who were observing that day commented on the overall enthusiasm for blood donation in Fort Collins.
About a minute of excitement passed when suddenly my well went dry. Uh, oh. Joe started prodding and poking again, shooting pangs of determination into my arm. Sure enough, I started to get light-headed and for seemingly no reason at all, I became very aware of the inappropriate height of my stilettos for 1:30 in the afternoon.
As I contemplated passing out and proper blood donation footwear, Joe continuously moved his torture device asking if “that” or “this” felt any better. Giving up completely on my tough-guy attitude, I always answered, “Um, NO!”
Finally, after what seemed like ages, four minutes went by and it was decided that my rate of blood flow was not going to be a sufficient amount for the twenty minute window of donation time. They removed the smaller, yet still vicious, needle from my right arm and told me I could come back in two months if I wanted to try again.
What? You think I’m going to try again?? I sat there covered in cold sweats staring at the man who’d just bandaged up my non-flowing veins in bright purple and green tape. He looked at me with utmost confidence proclaiming he could definitely get the other arm next time. I looked down at both of my bandaged appendages thinking, how many arms does he think I have?
He then brought me juice and a cookie, which naturally put him back on my good side. Once the sweating, lightheadedness and nausea finally passed, I looked from my bruised arms to my ego-bruised phlebotomist and, while munching on my chocolate chip cookie, promised to give it one more try. I know it’s not thier fault that I wasn’t able to donate so I’ve decided to give it another shot since the office was full of really nice people.
So, lucky blog readers, you’ll once again get to read about blood and almost fainting shortly after October 5. I’ve gone ahead and crossed Item 25: Give Blood off the list because, darn it, I gave it a good try and faced my fear. Hopefully, I’ll be able to muscle up enough mojo to fill that torturous little bag that will potentially save someone’s life one day.
If you are interested in donating blood (since I made it sound so appealing), PLEASE DONATE! There is a blood shortage and donations are very important! Check out the links below to find a blood bank in your area!!