Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bloody Hell

There's no better way to lighten a lousy mood than by doing a good deed, and as it happens, they had a blood drive at work today. I always participate in these, always. I'm a regular: the phlebotomists know me by name. And I know the answers to all the crack-whore questions by heart!*

The guy who came in right after me got a T-shirt, because he was a walk-in. I'm a regular. I had an appointment. How come regulars don't get a T-shirt?

I'm so regular, I don't get faint or even light-headed after donating, and you can drain me in five minutes flat. BP is 106/80, pulse rate 64, temperature 97.8 degrees, iron level 46. I don't mean to brag or anything, but when you get right down to it, I'm perfect.

Except for this leprosy thing on my arm. Do you know, leprosy is not on the list of disqualifiers for being a blood donor? You'd think it would be, wouldn't you? Maybe it doesn't need to be because when they stick you, your arm falls off, and then you just get deferred. That would make sense. Anyway, my doctor said this was eczema, but that was months ago, it hasn't gotten any better, the steroid cream has run out, and I'm going with leprosy.

There was a new guy at the blood drive today. "Which arm do you normally use?" he asked.

"Normally my right," I said, "but it's got this weird rash right on the inside of the elbow and I don't know if you could find the vein," and I showed him.

He cringed. "Let's try your left," he said.

It turns out there's a reason they always use my right arm: it's because the left one does not actually have any veins in it. The poor phlebotomist had me squeeze the little rubber football about 50 times, finally swabbing a hesitant iodine line well outside of the range of where I would normally expect a human vein to be. He turned away to prepare the needle, turned back, and frowned. "Squeeze some more," he said. "Try rotating your wrist for me."

I did, but I was a little nervous at this point. "If you don't want to look," he added, reassuringly, "nobody's making you."

SON of a BITCH! that needle HURT going in! I dislike pain on general principles, but I can handle the brief sting that you normally get when the needle is inserted. But this one really hurt, and it kept right on really hurting, after it had been placed. And kept on. I was trying not to whimper, but not very successfully.

"DAMN it," he said, after a few moments, "I screwed up. I just pulled the needle out by mistake."

I whimpered something, but he had no intention of sticking me again. He called someone else over, stripping off his gloves in annoyance. "I'm done," he said, stalking off. "I need to stop now before I really hurt somebody."

"Oh no," I thought, and called after him, "Please don't feel bad! It's okay!" But he just walked away.

His coworker put gloves on, wiped the iodine off my arm and bandaged me. "You feeling all right?" he asked.

"I'm fine," I said, "it wasn't so bad."

"Let's turn you around and try the other arm," he said, not seeming too taken aback by my leprotic condition. "We can try going in right through here..."

And at this point the remainder of my need to do a good deed by my fellow man evaporated. "Can I just leave?"

I didn't get a T-shirt. I didn't get a snack, not even those little bite-sized cheesy Ritz things. I am in such a lousy mood.


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