My friend Karen needed a ride to the blood donation center last night. Apparently the last time she gave blood, she was light-headed and could not drive herself home. I was happy to chauffeur. Both she and Cody joked with me a bit that I should give blood too since I would be there anyway. The reason it's a joke is because lots of people know I just don't do blood donation. I love the idea of donating blood. In fact, I even did it once. Over 15 years ago, while in college, I took part in a blood drive on the stage of the school auditorium. And it was one of the biggest disasters of my life. The needle was inserted wrong, my vein was punctured, I bled a ton under the skin, and had a huge painful hematoma that made bending my arm almost impossible for a few days. I had to have help getting dressed because I couldn't bear to move my arm to insert it into clothing.
From that time on I've never donated blood. And, I even have a terrible time having blood drawn at doctor visits. The idea of a needle being put into me is so scary that I'm sure it's one of the main reasons I decided to skip the epidurals when giving birth.
But last night, I was feeling brave. I figured thousands of people give blood all the time so it can't be that hard. Yes, I have tiny little veins hidden deep in my arm. Yes, I had a bad experience. But, I am a brave strong woman. I can do this! Think of how it would help people if I donated blood. I was nervous and excited, but I wanted to try it. I went through all the pre-donation questions and check-up. My iron level, by the way, was rocking. I know, it's pathetic to get an ego boost from the technician's compliment on my super high iron level, but please allow me that pleasure as it all went majorly downhill from there.
Finally it was time to get into the chair. I may have been trembling slightly. I was very nervous, but I thought I did a good job of remaining relaxed and calm. The supervisor was doing my blood draw. She told me she was the one they all call if something goes wrong. I asked if that meant she expected something to go wrong with me. Talk about foreshadowing! She got everything all ready to go and began to insert the needle. Even though I was not looking, I felt immediately that something was wrong. It felt awful. She was scrambling to remove the needle and apply pressure as she calmly told me she had blown the vein. I was bleeding under the skin again. She explained I would have a bruise, but as she continued to talk all I could think about was shock that the exact same thing that happened 15 years ago was happening again.
I could tell the woman felt terrible, and I didn't feel so well myself. It did hurt physically, but also emotionally. I couldn't believe I had tried this again with the same result. And I was afraid of how badly this hematoma would hurt since last time was so painful. I kept a brave face and thankfully did not dissolve into tears until after I got to the car.
Fortunately, this bruise is nowhere close in size or pain level as the last time. And now I know for sure that my veins are just too small for the large needles they use at a blood donation center. I'm sad that I can't help people in that particular way because I think donating blood is so necessary and wonderful.
So instead of donating my own blood, I'll give a shout out of encouragement to those of you reading this who ARE able to donate blood. Thank you for doing what you do. And if you can donate but have not done so in a while- I encourage you to make an appointment.
And then I'll go out and have my daughter's hair cut and donated to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. I am really good at helping other people donate, huh? It's a gift...