Tuesday, April 27, 2004

giving blood

Today I attempted to give blood for the first time in my life. I have tried to participate in the blood drive at work for the past few years, but always I have been ill, or on vacation, or otherwise preoccupied. This year I was sick, too, but the sinus infection cleared up over a week ago, so I went ahead and did it.

There were about about eight nurses in the trailer (they didn't stand still very long so it was hard to count). All but one of them were bustling around very efficiently, cheery and competent. One of them (the sole white woman there, incidentally) was slow-moving and frowning in concentration. Naturally, she was my nurse.

Now, I have very fair skin and very visible veins. I don't know if they vanished under the iodine or what. You wouldn't think that a tube that big would go in with so little effort. I've heard that it takes less than a pound of pressure to cut skin. Obviously the needle was very sharp. It was kind of freaky watching my skin mound up over it. Didn't hurt. Felt weird, but didn't hurt.

What hurt was when she started digging around trying to find the vein. I guess it was rolling away from her. I know she knicked it, because blue started spreading under my skin almost immediately. She poked around some more, and I gritted my teeth and watched my fingers turn blue and cold. The tube filled with blood. The blue lake under my skin continued to spread and swell up. She pressed on the lump of subcutaneous blood with her fingers. I said, "Ow," which was demonstrating remarkable restraint on my part. She said, "I think we better just stop."

Fine. Whatever. I was disappointed. The bag was barely stained red. She clamped off the hose, capped the needle, and gathered up the tubing. She put an ice pack on my arm and wrapped it around with a neon-green elastic bandage. Then she cleaned up the drops of my blood she had spilled on the chair and the floor. That bothered me, seeing that she had spilled my blood, but not in a sickened way. I felt possessive of it. I was offended that she had lost some of it, especially since she hadn't drawn enough for somebody else to use.

And foolish me, I let her stick me in the right arm. So now I have a massive purple/blue/brown lump on the inside of my elbow, which hurts when I bend my arm. Typing and mousing are going to be most uncomfortable for the rest of the day.

One positive note on the experience: my blood pressure was 102/60. Pulse 60. Heh heh.