With two pregnancies and a gallbladder removal under my belt (pun intended), I am no stranger to needles. But I had never given blood before today. The thought of it always gave me the heebie-jeebies.
Complicating matters at today’s blood drive was the unexpected presence of my nine-year-old due to a scheduling snafu. Worrying about her reaction distracted me from my own worries while I waited for my turn. Luckily she was nervous only for as long as it took her to start playing Tetris on my phone.
Me: Are you ok with this? Because we can leave if you need us to.
Gracie: (still staring at the phone) Huh?
Me: If this makes you nervous, you know, I can do it another day.
Gracie: I’m fine. Can I text someone?
Me: No…Because you know, this doesn’t have to happen today…
They called my number finally. (Me: Honey, I’ll be right over here. Just come get me if you need me! Gracie: Huh?)
Before the actual stickage, I answered questions about my health, drug and sexual history, and so forth for Eric, a very nice Red Cross worker. I think I impressed him with my enthusiasm.
Eric: Just read the question on the screen and tell me yes or no, ok?
Dory: (tittering nervously) Ok. (reading loudly) In the past 12 months, have you had sexual contact with a prostitute or anyone else who takes money or drugs or other payment for sex? (pause) No.
Eric: This is supposed to be private. You don’t want to shout out the questions and answers. Just tell me yes or no.
Dory: (tittering again) Ok.
Someone named Janie drew my blood. As I lie on the cot, mentally preparing myself for the needle (Grace serenely playing Tetris next to me), I wondered if I would pass out, if they would need to stick me more than once, if they would nick an artery, if…
Janie: Ok hon, let’s get started.
Me (courageously squeezing my eyes shut): Ok.
I felt the tiniest pinch. Wow, I thought, she is good. I chanced a look at the needle in my arm and discovered a purple dot – no needle yet, just a magic marker.
After some more prepping, the needle finally went in. It hurt a little, and I didn’t like the look of my blood flowing through the tube (which is surprisingly dark). But it really wasn’t so bad. I got to lie down for about 20 minutes in the middle of the day, which NEVER happens. I didn’t pass out, and Grace got cookies afterward, so even she came out ahead.
I will definitely donate blood again. Did you know that in the U.S., someone needs a blood transfusion every two to three seconds, and 95 percent of all Americans will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives? So it really is a good way to spend an hour.
But next time I won’t shout out my sexual history for all to hear.