Giving Blood

(The first part of this was written on my Palm as a running commentary, so please excuse odd tense changes.)

The Center opened at 8. I got there a few minutes after and they were already using overflow parking across the street. 25 people in the line ahead of me (not including the folk already inside the donation room, another 50 or so. 7 people in line behind me within minutes. They’re telling us it will be a two hour wait and anyone who can come back later in the week should. I’m tempted, but know this is the best chance I’ve got. I just wish I had stopped to get a newspaper beforehand. Or brought a book. What was I thinking?

There are 15 people behind me now. We’re moving along reasonably well — musical chairs, one butt at a time. People are resigned to the wait. Students ditching class, other folk calling in late to work. No obvious retirees, which surprises me.

A lot of people are reading the newspaper so I’m confronted with the headlines and photos. I have to look away. I should have had more breakfast — I’m glad I didn’t. I think I have thrown up enough for one week.

I make it to the top of the first line (for paperwork) and they announce that they’re backed up and won’t be taking anyone in for 10 minutes. Figures.

I finally get into the main room, and stand in another line to fill out paperwork. yeah, yeah, check check check. I hand it back to them, and go to stand on the next line.

An hour or so later I’m two from the head of the last line, hoping breakfast was enough to keep me from passing out. I just want to be done and gone. On the plus side the copy of Bon Appetit I picked up to read has some GREAT recipes. Bush is giving a speech, and we hush everyone to listen. More of the same, basically telling us “not yet, but soon.” The guy at the final check-in desk gave me a spiel about becoming a platelet donor. I really should, but…

A woman comes in and holds up three fingers. You, you and you, she picks us out from the herd and chivvies us down the hallway (still filled with the snaking lines of potential donors) and into another room. Older style tables, and no tv, but it’s also cooler in there. I lie down and prepare to have my veins opened.

Note: I’m not good with needles. Which is an understatement along the lines of “Florida kinda screwed up their election.” But I’m O pos, with healthy veins in both arms, and they practically salivate when they see me coming. The doctor running the room is a woman, a Russian emigree, so (after I warn them that I have a tendency to pass out) we talk about that to distract me. I’m actually doing okay, feeling not at all dizzy or whathaveyou, when they finish in record time. “Nice veins,” the phlebotomist says. I feel so used. [g]

I get up, have a cup of apple juice and a Fig Newton. “I love Fig Newtons,” I say. “We’ve been hearing that a lot,” one of the volunteers says. “It used to be Twinkies. Now it’s Fig Newtons.” And we fall to discussing the respective merits of Figgies vs. Twinkies. I’m feeling fine – for about 30 seconds more. Then I must have turned an interesting shade of oh dear, because they have me on the floor, feet resting on a chair, damp towels on my forehead and stomach and neck.

I feel rather silly, but it beats passing out in the bar the way I did in Chicago. So I lay there for another ten minutes, cracking jokes with the volunteer and other donators who stop by for their sugar fix, until I feel able to sit up. Then, a few minutes later, stand up. Okay, we’re walking a straight line, we’re okay, we’re fine. They tell me to take it easy, I nod. Yeah, moms, I know. I went back into the other room and scarfed a bagel with cream cheese, listening to the volunteers there talk. A local company was donating cases of medical gloves, another was bringing in crates of “juice and Twinkies and something else.” We were all anxious to find out what the “something else” might be, but at that point I realize it’s noon – I’ve been there for four hours. It’s time to go.

But first, I drop off my platelet donor form.

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