Thursday, December 15, 2011

In You To Give - Blood & Gratitude

Warning this post contains references to blood, needles and giving.

Tuesday I adopted the mantra "I can make that happen" I repeated it to myself from the time my feet hit the floor until the minute I plopped my butt into the blood bank donation chair.

The mantra was a lame attempt to psych myself up for the eventuality of giving blood. (background; I hate blood, I hate needles, I hate pain...hate is a serious word for me) Right after the made up Mantra line I secretly added "but why the heck do you want to make this happen?" The answer quite simply put...because you were asked, because your friend needs blood to battle her cancer, because she faces needles and worse everyday, because by comparison 1/2 a litre of blood and a needle is a cake walk, because you have it in you to give, because you said you would.

So I followed through, handling the affair with the scared to death humor that has become my greatest coping mechanism.
  • First they check your iron to make sure you have adequate stores to give some away. I passed.
  • Next you are asked a series of questions about your lifestyle, work and travel. I did okay with this until I got to the question inquiring as to my recent work with monkeys. To the best of my knowledge I do not work with monkeys but I questioned the handling of monkeys in my personal life. Thank you Lorraine for receiving my outward expression of laughter in good stride, how did you know it was the Monkey question?
  • On to screening hurdle #3 (the confessional as Lorraine called it) I was invited into a private room to answer what the nurse referred to as - highly personal questions. They were highly personal, but have simplified the round of 20 questions in store for the next boy who steps over the threshold to date one of my daughters. One Question "Can you pass the Canadian Blood Donor Screen?"
  • Questions aside; my arms where checked, my temperature was checked, my blood pressure was checked. My blood pressure was 144/85 not to bad - cool as a cucumber right? Unless you know that normal for me is 112/69. I asked the nurse if I looked nervous.
  • I got to have my cookies and juice before I got stuck with the needle. Apparently I didn't eat enough before arriving. That's something I don't often hear. Beyond my comfy spot at the juice and cookie table was my turn at the needle. I swear no one can eat a cookie slower than I.
  • Eventually they prodded me along. I confirmed to the 5th person that I was indeed the same person who entered the building. That I had passed the 3 gateways to the inner sanctum of blood donation and was still on board - because I said I would.
  • The actual event of giving blood was lack luster in comparison to the mental image I had worked up in my brain throughout the day. They clean your arm, poke your vein, siphon out 1/2 a litre of blood, clean up, give you a band aid and a juice box and send you on your way back to the cookie table to recover before leaving. They record your time too, like a marathoner crossing the 10km gate. I gave my 1/2 litre in 7 minutes which compared to the pace set by the guy 4 beds over was embarrassing especially when they handed me a sqeezy bag to help coax the blood from my arm.
  • Next time I will consume vast quantities of water in the days prior, this helps they say. Next time I will improve my blood letting pace. Oh, and there will be a next time. That is the second question they ask right after how are you today? Would you like to set up your next appointment while I have you up on the screen? Clever people, they ask before you give, then  you have to come back because you said you would.
Gratitude today for the ability to give. Like spreading smiles and positive energy. The life you change might not be your own. Although I believe mine was the one most changed.

Extreme gratitude as well to the lovely, patient nurses and volunteers who took my nervous humor in stride and to the co-workers unfortunate enough to share my time slot...gratitude for your blind-eye.

Today is Thursday and I always ask "What's your Gratitude?" Today I'm asking what are you grateful for? As well as asking you to consider a blood donation, you really can change a life