A Few Probing Questions Worth Answering
Have you ever given blood? It’s one of them real feel-good things to do. My Dad’s done it for years, so you’d think I’d have followed suit. But somehow, I just never have. I’m not squeamish or nothing, it just never quite made it to the front burner.
But a while back, I saw this story on television about a man who had donated blood his whole life, as often as he could. He was a real geezer now, but over the years, they figured he’d donated gallons of blood. Imagine!
Well, that story really stuck with me. So when I saw that the Red Cross was doing a blood drive down to the Kiwanis Club on Saturday, I decided the time had come. Heck, I thought, why not get my friends Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot and Shirley (a.k.a. the Women Who Run With the Moose) to join me? As I told them, “Here’s a way we can help people that won’t cost us a penny. It only takes about an hour. Plus, I hear there’s snacks involved.”
Rita was the only reluctant one. She tends to be a little squeamish, but we shamed her into it.
Turns out Shirley’s given blood before. She’s O-negative, which I guess is the kind the Red Cross wants most. They were pretty darn pleased to see her.
“What type are you, Ida?” Shirley asks me.
“Figures,” she says, rolling her eyes.
Well, didn’t they have the set up down to Kiwanis! It looked kind of like M.A.S.H., only nicer. There’s a bunch of stuff you have to read before they sign you up. I breezed through that. They give us first-time donors a big green sticker. Didn’t go with my blouse, but I let it slide.
Then this nurse takes me to a little cubical and starts asking me these questions, and I got to answer even more questions on the computer. I remember, this was the reason my Dad quit giving blood: the darn questions. They were all about living outside the country and having sex with prostitutes, and gay men. Look, he’s seventy-eight years old, and there just isn’t much of that kind of thing going on down to the senior living facility where he has an apartment. That said, if me or someone I cared about had to have a blood transfusion, I’d be mighty glad these questions were asked.
Well, they tested my iron level, took my blood pressure and pulse, and all systems were go “My veins aren’t the best,” I told nurse Mary as I hopped up on the table. “Last time I had a colonoscopy, it took them three tries to get the IV going.”
“Not to worry,” Mary says. “I’ve been doing this for years. Should be no problem.” She paints my arm with iodine, finds a good vein and puts the needle in. Nothing. A little blood in the bag, then it stops. I felt bad for Mary. She knew it was my first time, and was kind of upset, I could tell. Her supervisor Linda came over and they fiddled with it for a bit, but no go.
“Want to try the other arm?” I ask. No, they explained. They couldn’t. Once they get some blood in the bag, that’s it.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” I says. I was so disappointed. “Is it because I got low blood pressure or something?”
Linda told Mary to take a little lunch break, and after Mary left, she told me they can only feel the vein. They can’t really see it. So, Mary must have nicked it a little going in, causing a bruise, and when that happens, the blood stops flowing.
“A bruise?” I ask, my mind racing ahead to a potential fashion quandary.
“Won’t last,” Linda assured me, as she put a on a Band-Aid and some ice. “Six weeks, and you be good as new,” she kidded. “No, really, ten days to two weeks, tops.”
What kind of field trip is this, I’m thinking, as I wander over to the snack table to medicate myself with a few oatmeal-raisin cookies. The rest of the girls were still on the tables, chatting away and giggling. Seeing as it was so nice out, I told them I’d wait for them outside.
Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot and Shirley were in fine spirits when they emerged from Kiwanis. They’d done their good deed, and were all hopped up on sugar.
Rita goes, “That was easy. I think we should do this every couple of months.” And everyone agrees.
Then Shirley goes, “Gee, Ida, what’s up? You look a little B-negative.”
So, I explained what happened, how I got defective veins and all, and they tut-tutted and marched me off to the Busy Bee for a late breakfast. When I saw that side of bacon, I knew it wasn’t the end of the world.
Celeste goes, “How about those questions, huh? Shirley, what did you say when they asked about having sex with a gay man?”
“I told them that was kind of personal, but if they really needed to know, yes, as far as I can tell. When my husband Junior and me are having sex, he always seems happy.”
At which point, the table explodes with laughter, me included.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here.)