Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Giving Blood

It's not like giving blood is terribly uncommon, but I'm going to relate to you all my personal experience with it anyway. To those of you that haven't done it, take my story possibly as a warning.

Let's start with a little anatomy lesson. When you give blood, be prepared to sacrifice about half a liter. Is this a lot? If you're an averaged sized person, then no not really. More importantly though, will it fuck you up? Ha ha ha. Foreshadowing.

So I had made my appointment to donate blood one afternoon at the University of Maine. Incidentally, I was the typical lazy college kid, and my daily diet usually went as follows.

8am - Glass of orange juice, maybe.

10am - Nothing.

12am - Snack from the vending machine outside of class, maybe.

2pm - Nothing.

4pm - Small to medium lunch.

6pm - Nothing.


This is basically the opposite of what every dietician/nutritionist/doctor will tell you is healthy, but whatever, it was college and I was a young high metabolism garbage disposal of a son of a bitch.

So on this day I had as usual woken up approximately 4 minutes before my first class and left no time for breakfast. Whatever, I felt GREAT. After class I skipped over to the place to give blood, like this:

Any excuse to use this picture.

While waiting to donate, I sat around forever. Then I got pulled into a little cubicle where they asked health related questions, like:

  • Do you have AIDS?
  • ...Are you sure?
  • Have you had sex with anyone that has AIDS?
  • Do you have hepatitis, or anything else? *coughAIDS*
  • Have you participated in gangbangs/needle sharing/reckless drug use?
  • Have you traveled to any countries lately? Specifically ones filled with AIDS?

So after convincing them I was fairly disease free, they tested my blood for proper iron levels by putting it in some liquid suspension and seeing if it floated or not.

 It sank like a fucking rock and I was cleared to go.

My blood.

Now the fun part! I hopped up onto the hospital bed, feeling a little anxious because I was about to watch a giant needle get stuck in my arm. I had never had a giant needle stuck in my arm before. Don't people sometimes faint from this? Is this going to hurt...forever? Well it stung for about a half of a second, and that was that. Phew. 

So at this point my blood was pumping away. After a short period of time, I felt a combination of lightheadedness, which I assume is normal, and extreme glee. I tried not to laugh, because I would have appeared crazy, but it was difficult to maintain my composure while thinking "Haha I am bleeding into a bag. On purpose." I thought if I didn't finish up pretty soon, I was going to look like this:

The whole ordeal lasted several minutes, but then I was done. Crisis averted. Then came some excitement, because you know, snacks.

That's right! To minimize negative effects caused by a sudden drop in blood sugar, they give you a bunch of sugary shit. Makes sense. So there I sat, munch munch, but it wasn't long before I started feeling peculiar. It was a mix of growing lightheadedness and nausea. I thought "eh, this is normal, be cool" but it was getting worse. I started getting nervous, so I pounded some apple juice and slammed down a bunch of cookies. Great plan! Maybe I thought my digestive system was going to distribute this food throughout my entire body immediately instead of digesting over the course of several hours like it usually does. Nope, still getting worse. I was pretty sure I was gonna pass out pretty soon, so I looked for a nearby nurse, hoping I could discreetly mention "hey I'm not feeling too well over here, what should I do?" but they were all busy with other people. Seeing no other option I said to some random dude next to me

"Hey man, I'm feeling dizzy as HELL." 

I'm not sure what I expected him to do about it, but luckily since I had told him at about the same volume as a jet engine, a nurse quickly rushed over to me, put me on a bed with my feet elevated, and put cold packs on my face. I felt fine almost immediately, so I told the nurse "Whoops, false alarm!....K....Bye!" But they wouldn't let me leave until I they were damn sure I was actually fine. Can't have blood donors passing out in the road on the way home I guess.

Fifteen minutes or so went by, which coincided with the first fifteen minutes of my next class. Welp, guess I wasn't going to that! I eventually flagged down a nurse and said "seriously, I'm ok, can I go?" She then looked at me silently for several seconds. I'm still not really sure what she was doing, maybe checking to see if my pupils were dilated or something? Do pupils dilate before fainting? 

So I sat there, waiting for her to you know, speak. Eventually she asked "are you ok?" And I said "...yes, kind of like I just mentioned." 

The nurse finally let me go, so I hopped off the bed and wandered off. I was fairly disoriented and still not feeling great, but I felt good enough to walk home without fear of passing out. Then, I slept. For the rest of my life.

So my story isn't all that unique I suppose, but remember kids, if you're going to donate blood, eat some god damn breakfast, don't be a god damn idiot. Like me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Day I was Trapped in the Bathroom

I told a story recently about a legendary dump. Well, here's another one.

It was early on Thanksgiving day several years ago. My grandparents and maybe a couple other folks had showed up and were having cocktails. I decided it was the perfect time to get a shower in, because things hadn't really gotten going yet. I didn't announce my shower plans to anybody, because you know, who gives a shit? 

So I went upstairs, did my thing, finished up, and in those few seconds between turning the water off and pulling the curtain back to grab a towel, I heard the door open. You see, our bathroom door was fairly unreliable during the colder months. The wood compressed just enough so that even if the doorknob wouldn't turn, the door could still sometimes pop open. "Fuck that lock!" I thought, and started sheepishly clearing my throat a few times, and shuffling around somewhat noisily.

No response.

No worries though, even if the intruder somehow hadn't heard me, I expected them to either 1) See the mirror fogged up, or 2) See my pile of clothes on the floor. Surely one of those facts would clue them in that someone was currently behind the shower curtain, silently hating them. Still, nothing registered. After hearing the unmistakable slightly labored breathing of my grandfather, it became clear why. He was hard of hearing, so of course he never heard me moving around or clearing my throat. As for not noticing the mirror fogging up or seeing clothes on the floor, I can only chalk that up to some as of yet undiscovered malevolent force in the universe. 

So at this point I'm still standing there in the shower desperately hoping he'd figure out I was in there. I suppose at this point I could've avoided disaster by just sticking my head out from behind the curtain and saying "HEY I realize the door popped open there, but the KNOB DID NOT TURN BECAUSE IT WAS LOCKED PLEASE LEAVE." But I froze. I guess I had assumed too much time had passed by then and he would've thought I was a weirdo for not saying something immediately. My only hope was to wait it out. It's not like he was going to take a shower right? Hopefully he was just taking a piss, and it would all be over in 30 seconds or so. As long as I stayed hidden and silent, I just might make it out of this unscathed. 

Well of course he wasn't taking a piss. Of fucking course he wasn't. I heard him sit down for a shit, so I quietly closed my eyes in a sort of resigned cheerlessness, and waited.

It was loud. It was putrid. It was legendary. 

It went on for quite some time, and all the while I'm standing there revolted, and yet somehow fascinated. Fascinated not only that a man was capable of defiling a room so swiftly and unapologetically, but also that I had ever gotten myself into this mess. 

We all do our best thinking in the shower, and surely now was a time for reflection. I started pondering my life up to that point, and then wondered where it would go from there. How would this scenario play out? The idea of me escaping undetected at this point became more and more of a distant fantasy, and a few thoughts bounced around my head.

"If he finds me here now, what do I do? How in ever living fuck am I going to explain myself?"

"I wonder if there are support groups for people that have also hidden in the bathroom while their grandfather took a shit."

"Hmm, what objects are close by that I can kill myself with?"

"I've ruined Thanksgiving."

After something like 15 hours, he finished up. I snapped back into lucidity, and felt a confusing mix of joy and fear. Joy that the end was near, and fear that this end might also be tragic. He walked over to the sink to wash his hands, the sound of each footstep thunderously echoing against my soul. He dried his hands, and then what's this?

He wasn't leaving.

No, the faucet turned off, but then he started traipsing around the bathroom. What was he looking for? A towel? No! They were right next to the sink? From the sound of it, he was just taking a whimsical tour of the bathroom. My heart sank when I figured surely this tour would include whatever was behind the shower curtain. Fear had overcome me. I was sure that he was seconds away from pulling back the curtain and seeing me standing there. I found a small amount of comfort at the thought that I had become such a hollow shell of a person at that point, that maybe he wouldn't recognize me.

I braced myself, hoping the shock of the sight of me wouldn't give him a heart attack. "Please do not let him find me." I thought. "Please let his curiosity become fulfilled before inspecting the shower. Please."

And just like that, he walked out.

And I wept..