Monday, March 25, 2013

Blood Lovin'

The last time I can remember donating blood was in high school.  This strikes me as distinctly embarrassing - here I am, in a health profession graduate program, all fired up about healthcare for all, doing the right thing, taking care of people, and shit, my dad has cancer - and I haven't donated blood in more than six years.  Go me.  And why is that?  Well, it used to take twenty to thirty minutes for my sludgy blood to drain into the bag, my arm would go numb, my hand would cramp from squeezing, and I would pass out afterwards nearly every single time.  I called myself an athlete because I played field hockey, but the fact that I sucked wind up and down the field, barely drank any water, ate a real meals fewer days than not, and filled my journals with fresh plans to lose twenty pounds about every two weeks probably had something to do with it.  I considered puberty to be some kind of cruel joke that I could just refuse to accept by skipping breakfast every day and sleeping five hours a night.  My body was (understandably) reluctant to give up a pint of anything.

Today, I got done with my first day back at school two hours sooner than I had planned (schedule confusion) and stopped by the blood drive before heading home.  The nurse took my pulse, counting carefully for a full minute, "Sixty."  I had just lugged my backpack and a bag of textbooks halfway across campus, I was a sweaty mess, and I could only laugh as I imagined my trusty ticker, thudding along at a steady sixty beats per minute, not even fazed by the exertion.  I answered the questions, filled out the forms, and laid down on the padded table, ready to settle in for the next half hour.  Another nurse stuck me swiftly and smoothly, taped the bag down and told me to squeeze the ball intermittently.  I started thinking about grocery shopping tonight, and our new fish we named Fleur, and something else I can't remember because all of a sudden my nurse was back, telling me, "Okay, stop squeezing.  You're all done."  I was incredulous.  "What?!  I'm done?  How long did that take?!"  She checked the timer next to my bag.  "Um...five and a half minutes.  Good job!"  And the busily unhooked me, told me sit up slowly, and sent me on my way.

My strong and steady heart.  Pumping out giant whooshes of healthy blood, a pint of which will hopefully go to someone who needs it.  Five and a half minutes is all it took, but I've had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And so you should. We all say thanks.