Friday, December 10, 2004


The American Red Cross has figured out that if they call me on a Sunday afternoon, I'll probably be home. In fact, I might even be sleeping. And it seems that the fastest thing I can say to get them off the phone is, "Yes, sure. Wednesday. Good." No more, my friends, no more!

Donating blood is never easy for me. For one thing, I really hate needles. I'm developing this weird phobia of anything intentionally puncturing the skin. It seems unnecessarily barbaric to me and I believe that someday we'll look back on needles and scalpels like we look at barbers' polls. This is especially weird since I know (intellectually) that heart surgery saved my daughter's life and brain surgery saved my sister's life. (I'll post about that someday. I'm almost ready.) For another thing, I have really deep veins.

So. We go all together as a family after Paul gets home from work. He holds Ellie while we (separately) fill out the tedious paperwork. I go first because I have the appointment. My blood pressure is 100/80 and I'm momentarily proud. Eventually I get to sit in the sky-high beach chair and clench clench clench my hand until my whole arm starts to cramp. None of the three nurses working on me can find a good vein, so I have to get up and flip the chair so that my other arm is resting on the little stand. Repeat clenching exercises, until a new nurse thinks she has found a good vein on top of my elbow crease. Look down at your inner-elbow as you're typing. See the bit where the hair still grows? Yes, that's where she poked me with the giganto-needle.

Paul came in, sat Ellie on a blanket with some toys, sat down in his chair, got hooked up, and pumped out a bag of blood all in about 5 minutes. His blood pressure is 120/90 and I'm suddenly no longer so judgmental about that. Then he and Ellie wandered off to get juice and cookies.

I was still clench clench clenching away. For 15 minutes. Finally! The lever drops. My bag is full! Now they just need to fill the 4 little vials of blood for testing and - uh oh. The line has clotted. Never fear! This nurse-lady will just poke poke poke around with that giganto-needle in my arm to see if she can make me bleed more (no, it's the line that's clotted, not my vein, you dimwit).

New nurse comes back from a smoke break and decides to poke my other arm to fill the test vials. Remember, this is the arm where they could find no veins the first time. This time they don't bother to flip the chair; I'm supposed to hold my arm out in mid-air while we repeat the clench clench clench routine. My whole body aches. New nurse thinks that - with her glove off - she can almost feel the deep vein in the center. She pokes me. Nope! No vein here. Better go up to that top vein, just like on the other arm. But she'd hate to poke me yet again. So she just threaded the needle up to the other vein under my skin. They got their 4 vials.

Today: no politics, no family anecdotes, just this: When you call again in 8 weeks, American Red Cross, I am not home for you. I am going to need a little time to forget this episode.


Psycho Kitty said...

Ooh, sweetie! Ouch!
I hope they at least gave you some darned fine cookies for that?

Sarahlynn said...

Shortbread. Ah, beloved shortbread. And a ridiculously sweet juice drink, topped off by fast food (Arby's jamocha shake!) on the way home. I love food. Not enough to sign up to get poked again in February, though!

Mustang Sally said...

I hate getting my blood drawn. "Phlebotomist" my ass! I call them "leeches", with all due affection, of course. I think they understand.....