I tried to give blood, I really did....

Okay, so this is the 3rd time I have tried to give blood as an adult. Time #1: blood pressure too low.
Time #2: iron too low.

Very low blood pressure runs in my family, and a day or so after I signed up for the blood drive at the gym, my sister saw my name on the form, called me and said, “Hey, take your name off the blood drive. Don’t be stupid– the last time I tried to give blood I passed out cold.” But I insisted.

I dropped the kids off and showed up promptly on time. One of the screening questions was, “Have you been in contact with another person’s blood in the last 12 months?” I thought, “Hello– I’m a mom!!” But my ‘yes’ answer to that added a good 5 minutes to the process. They checked my iron level– 12.9. My blood pressure– 92/65, a little low but skating by. I slipped into the chair and held out my arms.

“Hmmm..” said the technician, scanning my arms doubtfully. “I know– I have very small veins,” I said helpfully. “My OB always kept pediatric needles on hand for me.” “Not going to happen here,” he replied, getting out a needle that could be used to harpoon a whale. “Ready?”

And then came the fiasco. First there was about 10 minutes of hunting, in vain, for a vein– I think they were all scared off by the harpoon he used. Finally he found one and blood began to trickle into the bag. Trickle. Looking worried, he began to jiggle everything– the bag, the tubing, the needle (hurt), my arm. He gave me a little barbell to squeeze. He held my arm down. Time ticked by and other techs began to drift over. “What’s wrong?” “I’m in a vein,” he responded defensively. “It won’t come out.” They all looked at me. “I have low blood pressure,” I said helpfully. Then I learned that, if 20 minutes go by and you haven’t filled the bag, you lose– after 20 minutes the blood in the tubing coagulates, and you have to fill the bag completely or else the anticoagulants already in the bag will be the wrong strength. Now I was understanding what was at stake. Jokingly I said, “Well, if you can’t use it, then you have to put it back.” I got 3 techs staring blankly at me, then one of them very politely explained to me why he would not be able to return my blood to my body. The timer ticked by as they all attacked me with all their might– moving me, pushing on me, sliding around the harpoon in my arm– to no avail. I had only halfway filled the bag in 20 minutes.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, they still insisted I sit and have a cookie while all around me, others whose blood pressure could pass the test breezily filled up their bags in 5 minutes. Then they gave me a compensatory gift card for a quart of Oberweis ice cream, I guess so that I could clog up my arteries even further. Finally, as they removed the gauze from my arm, they also removed a long stringy blood clot which was A. gross and B. keeping the enormous wound in my arm from leaking– which although it seems like a trickle when it’s refusing to fill a bag, is fairly significant when it’s all over your jeans.

When I got home I ripped off the painful Band-Aid with bloody gauze and put on a Pirates of the Caribbean Tattoo bandage (all we had). Then over the next few hours I watched blood creep into the little lines and creases, while the skin surrounding it bruised harder and harder.

Oh well. I got some Udderly Truffles ice cream, and it’s damn good.


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