There is no medical reason prohibiting it. In fact, I have a rare blood type, so most folks in the medical community recommend that I donate. However, I’ve been told to never give blood again.
“Honey, I don’t care how low blood supplies are,” a kind, but frustrated, nurse told me. “Don’t you ever come back here again.”
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I passed out twice and tossed cookies all over the Bloodmobile.
I was still in college. The local Bloodmobile had come to my workplace as part of a city-wide effort to boost local blood supplies. Given my blood type, I felt that giving was a moral imperative. I had a desperately needed, life saving fluid running through my veins.
The experience started easily enough. The nurse asked me the basic health screening questions. All good. She took me to my cot and pulled out the supplies. All good. Then she pulled out the needle. I got a little nervous when I saw the thing was the size of a pen, but she managed to get it in my vein on the first try.
I watched the thick red blood make its way through the tube and into the collection bag. The nurse placed the bag on my lap as she turned to help another donor. That’s when the trouble started. I watched the bag slowly fill up. It was warm. Too warm. I remember saying, “Oooh, that’s my blood. In a bag. And it’s pooling on my lap.” And then I passed out.
I don’t know how long I was out, but I remember feeling the nurse pat my arm and whisper, “Honey, you’re okay. You’re okay.”
I opened my eyes and saw she had a full bag in her hands. She set the bag down and pulled the needle out of my arm. A stream of my own blood squirted me in the face before she could get the compression bandage on. I passed out again.
I woke up to her patting my face with a cold cloth. She smiled at me and said, “The first time can be a little rough on some folks.” Another nurse walked me over to the cookie and juice table. She told me to eat and drink slowly.
I was feeling a bit woozy, but the sugar infusion was helping. My female coworkers looked at me with concern and pity. The guys were waiting to prop me up if I passed out again. Two cookies and two juice cups later, I felt human again. I headed toward the ladder to exit the Bloodmobile. One of my co-workers tried to make me laugh. I laughed, for a second, but then the cookies and apple juice made their triumphant return all over the floor.
I believe it was at this time that the nurse yelled a creative string of expletives.
After throwing the clean-up sand on the floor, she sat me down at a table and gave me a napkin to clean my face. She smiled at me, took my hands and uttered those fateful words, “”Honey, I don’t care how low blood supplies are. Don’t you ever come back here again,” she said. “For my sake and yours.”
It’s been 20 years, and I have not tried again. I’ve had lots of blood drawn for various medical tests, and I even looked at the epidural needle before it went into my back; however, I’m still afraid of giving blood. Rationally, I know my first experience was a comedy of errors that will likely never happen again. Thousands of people donate blood every year with no ill effects. Thousands of lives are saved because of it.
Every year of my adult life, I have tackled one of my fears. I learned to swim, sung a solo in front of a crowd, gave birth, held a bird and tried bungee jumping. If I can do these things, I can give a pint of blood. Whoa. I got a little woozy typing that last sentence.
Allow me to rephrase. I can give a pint of blood, but it’s going to take tremendous quantities of Xanax before, during and after the procedure.