Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"You hanging in there?"

I may have mentioned before, I'm not so good with needles. I cried last time I got my flu shot [I was all alone in a giant auditorium and my arm felt weird, okay?!], I was a nervous wreck last time I had blood-work done, and I can't even watch commercials for those finger-pricking devices diabetics use. It's not an uncommon fear, but it's definitely earned me a high-earning office in Pansyville. I'm not big into conquering fear, I'm pretty content with letting it fester, because I figure, so long as a fear is rational, it is also healthy! Which is a philosophy that works pretty well for me [I am still alive, right?], except when it conflicts with my other philosophies. Or more specifically, when my fear of needles keeps me from following through on my commitment to organ donation and sacrificing myself. [Ew, literally?]

I was talking with Justin about this on Sunday. He was telling me how he gives blood every six weeks, and I was feeling hypocritical because I was realizing that despite calling myself an organ donor advocate, I have no intention of ever giving blood ever. My school holds a blood drive every six weeks. Predictably. And for the first semester, I was fine, because during the hours of the blood drive I always had classes or work, and I told myself that I'd be all over that, but I didn't have the time. It was a convenient salve for my guilt. This semester, however, I didn't have that excuse. Nope, my schedule was wide open. Not sure how that even happened. May have to fix that for the future.

So when my phone became un-lost [THAT was an enlightening experience, by the way] I got a text from Justin, who now goes to my school. He told me, hah, yay! that it was blood drive time up at the student center!

And I really don't know what made me do it.

I walked into the student center, turned down the hall . . . I think I told myself I was just going to check things out, to see if it was really there, since I was nominally curious about where all this blood-draining took place. [It's a big building.] I turned the corner and a friendly woman at the table smiled at me with a, "Here for the blood drive? Through those doors!" Before I knew it I was drinking a bottle of water and handing over my driver's license. What was going on?! My stomach started turning as I was filling out the questionnaire . . . no, I did not have a prion disease -- I THINK! The sheet they gave me on the risks of donating blood didn't allay my fears, neither did the prospect of a one-on-one interview to determine if I was qualified to give blood. The whole process was a lot more intense than I had realized.

When I sat down for the interview, I caught a glance at the finger-prickers. And I started full-out shaking. How the heck had I wound up in this chair, about to allow some strangers to pump my life-blood into a plastic baggy?! Her name was Jill, she pricked my finger, and tried to coax out enough blood for the iron test. [Good news: my blood clots excellently, and I'm not iron deficient! Who knew!] I can't scroll on my laptop's touchpad anymore. Should have had her prick my left hand.

Against all hope, I was cleared for donation, and made my way to the climax. I was careful not to watch any of the process. I didn't watch her feel for a vein, I didn't watch her swab the site, I didn't even catch a glimpse of the roll they gave me to "gently squeeze every ten seconds." I just tried to keep blinking away the threat of tears and focused on hiding how petrified and uncomfortable I was. The weirdest part was how the tube was looped around my arm, and I could feel how warm it was. Of course, Jill was there, watching me with a frown on her face. "Did you hydrate today?" Nope, I didn't know I was supposed to! "You're going really slowly . . ." She taped and re-taped the needle, angling my arm, fiddled with the blood pressure cuff while I stared at the ceiling and prayed, "God, speed up my blood!" Something I never thought I'd pray.

Mercifully, it eventually ended. My arm is strangely sore, it's possible I have a bruise under this ridiculous bandage, but afterwards I got to sit and drink cranberry juice and watch The Incredibles. Which is kind of an okay movie.

It was a traumatizing experience. But I survived! Fears faced, God is good. And you know what this means? . . . I have to give blood every six weeks now for the rest of my life.

Sometimes I think philosophical consistency is so overrated!


Mommy said...

I am SO proud of you!!! What is the next fear you are planning on conquering?

Nicole said...

You inspire me. I always mean to give blood but I just have never gotten around to it. Goodness knows I've transfused enough units in my time. I should probably donate...

Jude said...

That is pretty awesome! I have an irrational fear of not seeing the needle before, during and after the shot. because I guess I'm terrified that I'm going to be drugged or something. So I have to watch the needle and then I tend to get queasy... no win. lol

L.E. Fiore said...

God sure does give us our own particular battles. Here I am, Hayley, with no PARTICULAR fear of needles (last time we had a blood drive I sat around and watched the bags fill up with blood and joked with the male nurses (that sounds weird) who said I had a blood fetish) and *I* am NOT ALLOWED TO GIVE BLOOD because I don't weigh enough. Oh, darn. ;-)

Art said...

Oh, ack, I am so queasy about needles too. Maybe you have to be 18 to donate?