I went to work last night at the church. Thursday night is office cleaning night, so I hit that first and wrapped it up pretty quickly. In one of the back rooms they where hosting a blood drive, so I was kinda waiting for that to get over so I could mop afterwards. I was on my way to work on one of the other projects on my to do list, just to pass the time, when one of the nurses invited me back to have a cookie. I can't resist a cookie invitation, so I figured I would at least go back and see what they had.
I walked back to the room they were using, and while I was browsing through the cookies I overheard the guy in charge talking about how many people hadn't shown up. They figured that they would show up before the end, but they were getting a little worried. So, being the guy that I am I volunteered right then and there to donate some of my blood.
I had toyed around with the idea a little bit in my head, but didn't really want to do it because of my dread of the needle. I absolutely fear needles, just ask my mom, but the older I get, the more I like to face my fears whenever possible. So I signed up, went through the questionnaire, then sat down in one of those fancy lawn chairs.
My nurse was really nice, and found my vein without any trouble. And even though she used an abnormally large needle, she must have been out of the regular ones, I didn't even flinch when she plunged it into the depths of my arm. I was feeling pretty good about myself as I clenched and unclenched my fist. The large quantities of blood were flowing steadily through that tube and down to the bag at the bottom. I watched that bag of blood rock back and forth, back and forth, keeping it from coagulating. Back and forth, back and forth it rocked. Wow, that looks like a lot of blood coming out of my body. I wonder how much blood a person can have taken out of their body.
I asked the nurse that, but I can't remember what she said.
I was feeling pretty good. Tired, but good as the blood kept filling my donation bag. In fact, I was feeling a little too good. The room seemed a little fuzzy and people started sounding a little like Charlie Brown's teacher. My nurse looked over at me and asked if I was OK. "Fine, good..." I tell her, then she walks away to check on one of the other donors.
A few moments later I start to feel a little light-headed. Not too much, just a little. I lay back and try to focus on the ceiling, instead of my bag of blood. There's no way that I am going to be that guy that has trouble giving blood. Just not gonna happen.
But then it starts to get worse. I started feeling a little fluttery in my chest, like I was trying to convince my heart that, "...no they are not taking too much blood. You're feeling ok. Just keep beating." My heart seemed like it was wavering a little in its trust in me. The air in the room started getting even thicker than it already was, so I finally swallowed my pride, and said, "ma'am... um... I am feeling a little light headed."
Next thing I remember, I am in the midst of the most vivid dream. I know it was vivid, but I couldn't tell you a thing that happened in that dream. What I do remember is looking up and having every nurse in the room around my bed, and for at least four seconds, I had no idea where I was and no clue why these people were staring at me. Then it came flooding back to me: church... offices... cookies... blood... oh yeah...
"Did I just pass out?"
Nurse reply: "Um, yeah. You could say that."
I guess that not only did I completely lose consciousness, I also seized up. The nurse told me later that she couldn't uncurl my arms to get the needle out. She had called everyone over just because of that. They even had to break the stuff under my nose just to wake me up. I can still remember that burning in my nose as I was exiting that vivid dream.
But the story isn't over yet. Oh no.
Right after I was revived, I started to feel a little nauseous. Thinking that I just needed something to eat I asked for some crackers. I thought that was going to help for a few moments, but then about halfway through the second cracker, I started having trouble chewing it up. The cracker was getting thicker in my mouth as every moment passed. No, no, this isn't happening. I am not going to be the guy who gets sick while donating blood!
I kept fighting it and kept fighting it, but it was getting more and more intense. The urge to hurl was almost all the way up to the back of my throat when I finally caved in and said something to my nurse. "Ma'am. I am not feeling so well."
"Your Stomach?" She says. "Good, if you get that up, you will feel much better. Let me get you a bag."
"A bag? Umm. I think I will be OK. I think it is passing already."
"Well here, why don't you hold this bag, just to make sure. It is really ok. We are all used to this happening."
hmm... "Well, I am not exactly used to puking in front of people. I don't know if I am ok with this. Do you mind if I just walk down to the bathroom real quick?"
"No. I am sorry, but we can't let you leave until your vitals get back up to normal."
Vitals!?! Did she say vitals?! "Alright, let me hold the bag. I probably won't..."
Then it happened. As discretely as possible, from my little donation bed I hurled out of the corner of my mouth. Not once, mind you, four times. Me trying to act like I hadn't just done that between each of the regurgitations. Then I had to pass the bag off and have one of the nurses say in her sweetest, most nursy voice, "You all done now? You feeling better? Here's a little wet paper towel for ya.. There now." And each of my responses was a whimpering, "mm...hmm..."
It is really hard to act tough when you just passed out, upchucked, and now a nurse is patting your head.
After all of that happened, I found out that I didn't even donate enough blood for them to keep. But they did give me two t-shirts and I got an extra cookie.