I recently faced my deep fear of needles and became a heroin addict gave blood. I decided to go for it for the same reason everyone else does: the free cookies and juice afterwards.
On the drive there, I hit two squirrels and a porcupine tried to block out the image of childbirth and the nurse trying for 45 minutes to ram the IV into my arm saying, “These aren’t veins. They’re pencil marks. Let her die.” When I arrived at the donor clinic, I couldn’t help but notice the decor. The entire place screamed blood: red walls, red chairs and red dots which I saw just before I went down like Miley Cyrus’s pants. When I came to I was asked to wear a special badge that read: DO NOT RESUSCITATE I’M A FIRST-TIME DONOR.
Next, a nurse asked me some questions and before I could say, “Get me the f@!! out of here” she whipped out a needle and stabbed my Peter Pointer. I blurted, “Owie! That hurt like hell but I saved a life right? Book me in for three months and point me towards the cookies!”
Apparently that didn’t constitute ‘giving blood’; it was merely a quality check on my red junk. (Paranoid freaks). After a 60-minute self-imposed breather, I moved on to the next stage: a questionnaire. I was appalled by some of the questions:
Have you ever taken a human pituitary growth hormone?
Have you in the last six months handled monkeys or their bodily fluids?
Have you pole-danced naked in Saudi Arabia followed by a blood transfusion and rabies shot?
Equal parts impressed and mortified by their astute fact-checking, I answered: Who wants to know?
Two hours, a change of clothes, (I don’t want to talk about it) and an affidavit (I don’t want to talk about it) later, and I was fighting for my life in the bloodletting chair. A young nurse came at me with a tranquilizer gun smile, examined my arm and remarked, “You are an android.” After Guinness World Book of Records left, the nurse found a vein. The vein was having a ‘me’ day and didn’t want to be found so it popped the needle out. Which hurt. A senior nurse suggested I stop yelling: “How would you like it if I did this to you??” try the other arm but assured me I need not feel pressure to stay. I hesitated but then I remembered the bigger picture and asked, “Will I still get a cookie if I bail now?”
With the help of three burly donors-turned-bodyguards, the nurse successfully inserted the needle. She said my blood was like unstrained porridge and gave me little tips to make it flow better: squeeze my hand, wiggle my fingers and do the Hokey Pokey upside down. I floated in and out of consciousness for an hour while a hot doctor dabbed my forehead with a warm cloth and told me I was the bravest, most beautiful woman he’d ever met and then it was over. I got another special badge: NURSES HATE ME I GAVE BLOOD.
In the end, it wasn’t worth it. I felt used. The cookies were a massive downer (pre-packaged and hardly the warm homemade macadamia chocolate chip number I’d imagined), the juice was warm, and I wasn’t even offered a manicure fluffy robe. Frig that. I just don’t get the point of being a bloody donor. Give me one reason, besides saving a life, anyone would do it.
— Colleen Landry
Colleen Landry has been writing since she was a child weaving tales of magic turtles and princesses. Now a fully grown (ish) adult, her writing offers very little magic but lots of laughs. Colleen thinks laughing at life’s stages is healing and infectious. She has been published in Canadian Living magazine and the Globe and Mail, as well as various local newspapers. Colleen also teaches high school writing in an online environment where discipline is as simple as ‘Ctrl’ ‘Alt’ ‘Delete.’ She is married and has two teenage sons who eat even while asleep. Follow her on Twitter @LandryColleen and enjoy her blog.