Blood Red Bloodsuckers and Babies

I do not like needles. At all. (Granted, I had to suck that one up right quick when we got into this whole infertility debacle.)

I do not like people stealing my blood. That’s right. I said stealing. My blood. MINE!

Amid the myriad of pills they concocted for me whilst I was trapped on ante-partum hospital lockdown, one that amused me to no end was to treat me for anemia. Stop taking my blood and maybe I won’t be anemic! But none of the medical professions seemed interested in this obvious and logical argument. Pill pushers…

And then the muppets came.

(Side note – amount of blood loss due to major surgery following six weeks of strict bedrest will cause a newly minted preemie mom to pass out in the NICU should she insist on walking into the unit full tilt. Just sayin…)

One warm June morning, the chief of the neonatology unit called me with urgent news. Search needed a blood transfusion. We had been warned this was likely, as his tiny body was still a little confused about how to function. Destroy is a little mini-me of his father – down to matching blood types. Search has a few of my features – including my blood type. (Which, despite numerous protests by my mother, is A-. I promise.)

Being only two weeks after giving birth, I was not allowed to donate blood to my son. Doctors decreed I didn’t have enough to go around, apparently. (Really, how much does a 2-pound person need?)

So Search received an anonymous bag of blood from a donor who will never know he saved my son’s life.

Almost two years later, I’ve been inspired by my rosy-cheeked cherubs (only partially brought to the forefront by last weeks feverish pneumonia debacle) and The Bloggess’ Traveling Red Dress project.

“The traveling red dress isn’t always red. It isn’t even always a dress. It’s anything you’ve always wanted but denied yourself because you thought it was too silly. It isn’t. Joy is always worth it. Go and find your personal red dress, my friend.”

I agreed to donate blood tonight. So someone I’ll never know can continue to find joy. Because at this point, my fear of needles is silly. And because maybe there’s a child somewhere who’s having some retic issues and needs some help to get that healthy glow back.

At 6 p.m., I walked through the doors of the clinic. And then I stopped. You know those times when you think, “This seems like a good idea.” And then you get where you’re going and think, “I was wrong. Very wrong.” This was one of those times.

After answering approximately 172 questions to ensure I was not secretly suffering from smallpox or malaria, a white-coated lab technician escorted me into a small private room. She strapped a blood pressure cuff to my arm and stuck a thermometer under my tongue.

My blood pressure began racing. I was back in the hospital having my vitals taken (and throwing temper tantrums when the nurses tried to do so at 2 a.m.). Despite the sudden dizziness and spinning room resulting from my light head, I promised myself I wouldn’t pass out.

And then they led me back to the chair in order to stab me with a blood-sucking needle.

I’d tell you what happened next, but I shut my eyes and held my breath for the next 15 minutes, while a whooshing sound sucked the life-blood out of my left arm. (I may be a bit overly dramatic here, but my point stands.)

Finally, it was over. I was instructed to sit in their lobby area for 15 minutes as mandated by the State of California. (I believe this is a CYA regulation to make sure I don’t keel over and die.)

Full disclosure – it was for the life of a child. Pay it forward as thanks for what was given to my children. But really, I was promised ice cream.

4 Comments

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4 Responses to Blood Red Bloodsuckers and Babies

  1. Great Aunt J

    Good for you! What flavor?

  2. Nancy Welker Caracciolo

    I can’t donate but Kudos to you for doing so. Joan used to donate on a regular basis but after passing out after the last 2 donations, we don’t allow it anymore. Around here they give out ucky cookies and oranges but where my neighbor donates they give out Baskin – Robbins coupons!

  3. You’re an inspiration. You’re a better person than me to donate. I have a horrible fear of needles. I will say, though, that we donated our cord blood when we..ahem…*I* had Frack. The Bloggess’ Traveling Red Dress is an inspiration to us all.

  4. Alex

    I used to sell plasma during college to help pay for such lovely things as gas to get to my internship and vitamins, food, and books. I still have needle marks from the huge needles they used!

    I remember having to go into work at the college dining hall several times with what looked like track marks due to some technical issues with finding my veins. Curiously enough, no one ever asked how I got the bruising!

    I agree, giving blood and plasma isn’t buckets of fun, but it is definitely for a good cause! Good for you for donating!

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