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Giving blood

I gave blood today.  It was M’s idea; he’s been doing it pretty regularly for long before I knew him.  The past few times I’ve had the opportunity, I wasn’t able because I’d been to Haiti too recently.  And once, they couldn’t find a vein.  (They dug around for a while, digging, digging, and finally apologized and thanked me for trying.)

The blood drive was combined with a health fair in the school where M. teaches.  Student volunteers ushered us around, most officiously and full of importance.  They were great, insisting that we drink juice and carrying our bags.  I was looking around, and I thought, “I want to give blood, too.” 

So I filled out the paperwork–that series of questions, “Have you ever…?” is such an encapsulation of the fears and knowns of our society today–and waited my turn.  I chatted with the nurses, asked some questions (I’m always curious about medical technology, and equipment), and waited my turn.

Finally, I laid on the beach chair and let the nurse look at my arms.  As expected, she couldn’t really find any veins, on her first look.  She called a male RN over for advice, and he showed her how to find her best chance.  I was a little nervous.  When I’ve needed an IV, I’ve had to take it in the hand, such are the shy and hiding ways of the veins of my arms.

But the nurse did a fine job, and only dug a bit–this digging, or rooting, for the vein is the weirdest part, especially when I consider that this is part of my body, connected to all the other parts of my body, and something from _outside_ is touching it.  Incising it. 

Soon I was all hooked up and taped down, and I obediently pumped the little hand-thing, while the blood came out of me.  It’s so, so strange, that with all of the technology we have, we still need the blood of another person.  The literature we had available said that a car accident victim can use up to 50 units of blood–that’s fifty volunteers like me.  A cancer patient can need 6 units of platelets a day.  A day!

After it was over, and my blood was neatly packaged in a little rubber bag, I asked the nurse if it was warm, and could I feel for myself.  She said it was, and of course.  I put my hand on the bag, and yes, my blood was very warm.  So strange, again, that this was inside me only moments ago, but will still _work_ and do everything blood is supposed to do, not too long from now, when someone else needs it. 

What a crazy undertaking.  It’s a good thing to do, and interesting.  I learned that I have excellent iron counts, and remembered that our bodies are strange and weirdly known and mysterious.

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