Sometimes I never learn. I do the same things over and over with the same horrific results because I always feel the outcome will be different. Like eating ice cream. Like trusting people. Like giving birth.
(Okay, I don’t do the birthing thing anymore. And I can honestly say that although the birthing(s) themselves absolutely sucked, the outcomes weren’t horrific. Entertaining, maybe, but definitely not horrific.)
You can teach an old dog new tricks. Or at least teach the old dog not to do the same stupid tricks. This old dog has been taught never to do the following things:
I will never again give platelets. Just seeing that in print makes me infinitely sad. I’ve been giving blood for years and years before they started hounding me to give up my -AB platelets. Seems I’m a universal donor for platelets. I only went a few times only because frankly, it was a pain in the ass. It took a few hours and both my arms had needles in them so I couldn’t read and the movies they showed were terrible. But I did it. And I was proud that I did. It was probably the only nice thing I ever did for my fellow humans.
It also helped that they were “paying” me for giving blood. For every four platelet donations, I’d get a $25 Gift Card to Home Depot. I figured I would help pay for our bathroom renovation with blood money. Literally.
This last time, though, damn near killed me. I was excited because the procedure was upgraded so the “give” and “take” came out of the same arm, so I’d be able to kill time with a book. This time should be a cinch.
When the phlebotomist looked at my arm, she made that upsetting clicking sound with her tongue and teeth. I looked up and she told me my vein was really small. She inspected my other arm and declared that one worse. I told her I had no problem giving in the past, but she explained that because the procedure was happening in one arm now, the vein had to be a little larger to take the push and pull of the machine. She said we’d try, but it might take longer than the normal give time (1-1/2 hours). She poked the needle in, started up the machine and typed in the time. Two hours, forty minutes.
Did I mention I was “at lunch”? I left the office telling them where I would be going, and that I might be a little late. I didn’t think it would be three hours, and I couldn’t call anyone because my phone was dead,as usual. This was not turning out to be a very good day.
And it got worse. I didn’t know that you had to monitor the screen to see when they were pulling the blood out of you so you could squeeze the little squishy thing in your hand. Totally distracting; I put my book down after the first 10 minutes and resigned myself to watching “Hidalgo”- their movie of choice. As time went on, I started feeling less and less of my fingers making it almost impossible to squeeze the squishy thing. And on the last “draw” of the machine, my vein closed up like a straw at the end of a milkshake. The machine would beep it’s annoyance and if it didn’t get anything from me, it would stop and an alarm would sound. A nurse (?) would come over to override it and the machine would start pumping my blood and an anti-coagulant back in. After a few minutes the draw process would start again, collapse the vein and sound the alarm.
This went on for two hours.
Finally, a nurse (?) got wise and stayed with me and the blood-sucking machine. She tried to rub a hot squishy thing up and down my wrist to get the tingling to go away. She gave me six Tums to chew on (they counteract the chemical in the anti-coagulant and stop the tingling. I needed six JARS, not six tablets.) She overrode the machine on each draw. She gave me a cold compress when I said I felt like I was going to pass out. She was getting pissed and I felt really guilty that my veins were so small.
I’ve never once passed out while giving blood. I experienced dizziness a few times, but that was the extent of the uncomfortableness. (I just invented a new word!). I looked around at all the other donors and they’re not only staring at me, they all seem fine.
I felt like crap. Literally and figuratively.
The procedure was finally over. She couldn’t get the needle out of me fast enough. It may have come across that this woman was caring and concerned about me- oh, no. Although it’s her job to make sure all her “patients” are comfortable and don’t die, she had the attitude of a typical civil servant. She sighed, she banged things around, she clicked her tongue repeatedly while she was hovering over me. I really didn’t need that additional guilt on top of my vein guilt and the fact that I felt physically ill.
When I took my arm down from over my head for her to bandage, she gasped and said, “Uh oh. You’re a bleeder.” I looked at my arm (big mistake) and the blood is running down faster than she can catch it. Even though I give blood (and platelets) I try not to look at it because it makes me all squeamish. I glared at her while she cleaned me up and helped me stand. Which wasn’t going to happen.
My feet as well as my lips and nose went as numb as my fingers. I had to sit back down or I was going to pitch forward and bring Nurse Ratched down with me. Still annoyed, she went and got me a Gatorade and some pretzels.
Ugh. Gross. I hate Gatorade. And where are my damn cookies?
I drank the dreadful drink in three gulps and relaxed for a minute or two. Surprisingly, I felt a lot better. We made our way to the recuperating table where I found my cookies. I grabbed a few (six) packages, downed another Gatorade (they were small) and stuffed another one in my bag before I made my hasty exit. The receptionist tried to get me to make another appointment, but I yelled back over my shoulder I’d make one online. I had to get out of there- my job and my sanity were on the line.
The walk back to the office (I gave at the Citicorp complex) was ethereal. I felt like I was floating and that everyone was looking at me (maybe I WAS floating…) By the time I got to my office, the urge to cry was strong, but I sucked it up. My manager needed to talk to me when I got back, but after one look at me she offered to call me car service to take me home. I told her I just needed to eat- it was after 3 o’clock and I’d feel a lot better. I did, and I didn’t so I asked her if I could go home. I didn’t take the car service because I thought it would take twice as long with traffic so I took the subway and the bus- my normal route home. I knew I’d get a nice nap out of it.
It was a really GOOD nap because I stumbled up the subway stairs to the bus and got on the dreaded LIMITED without realizing. I ended up at the other end of the neighborhood feeling woozy and no way to call home (dead phone, remember?) There’s that urge to cry again. As I walked home, I felt very disconnected and the minute I stepped in the door I burst into tears. MR didn’t know what to do with me so he brought me into the bedroom, laid me on the bed, took off my shoes and gave me a glass of orange juice.
And a cookie.
So my good Samaritan days are nearing an end. I can still give whole blood but with my blood type, I’ve been told chances are it would be disposed because it’s so rare and it probably wouldn’t be used. If that’s true I may as well go with Cheesestick and get our matching tattoos. Either that or put that money aside for the bathroom renovation.
I’m sure as hell not going through that again.
Stay tuned for Parts Two and Three of Things I Will Never Do Again.