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.

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