Thursday, July 22, 2010

Embrace Your Inner Turnip

Here I sit, sipping a glass of wine (against orders) to wash down the green salad I had for dinner (against orders), waiting for my heart to stop racing from the day's events, not to mention the Coke I had at lunch (against orders).

They don't tell you never to watch a Quentin Tarantino movie before giving blood, though. I did keep my bandage on for four hours (per orders). Indeed, it's still on now. At this point I'm pretty sure that when I take it off, a literal geyser of gore will splatter-paint my bedroom walls with crimson.

For one thing, my room is done in burgundy and cream, so bright red would totally not work. For another, splatter-painting is SO '90s. Kind of like, you know, those convertible shorts pants with the zip-off legs that nobody wears anymore. Nobody.

I had lots of time to get phriendly with my phlebotomist today; she was so methodical and careful in her choice of which vein to tap. She called one of the others over to consult with him. "This one right here, I see where it is, it shouldn't be hard to hit," she said, tapping on a vein in my right arm. "But I don't know. I really like this one," indicating my left arm. "It's a side vein, and it runs along the muscle, but it's so nice and plump and bouncy."

"I won't tell you which vein to tap," the other, presumably more experienced phlebotomist said. "You're the one doing it, so it's your call."

They are artists, these people.

Did you know that the veins that run along the side of your forearms, while closer to the surface, tend to shift around when you flex your muscles? They're easier to find, but also easy to lose, or to close off with incautious poking or taping. The vein in my right arm is a safe bet - it's anchored firmly in the comfortable hollow of my inner elbow - but the one on the left, if you hit it just right, will pay off big time. You can drain me in five minutes flat. It's really quite spectacular.

All this talk was, perhaps, more informative than reassuring. However, once she had determined her plan of attack, the insertion of the needle was painless and the blood flowed easily. I was relieved enough to join gigglingly into their conversation, which had turned to the best place to get a good deal on the latest fashions in surgical scrubs. "Do you think," the girl asked, "they had bell-bottomed scrubs back in the '70s?"

"Oh my gosh," I said. "Do you remember those convertible-shorts, zip-off-leg pants everybody was wearing in the '90s?" They did. "Well, just a couple of years ago, I used to work with a guy who wore those, still. Every. Single. Day."

I looked a little nervously over my shoulder after mentioning this, but then I thought, come on. As if Coworker-You-Idiot would ever give blood. Would he? At any rate, he was nowhere in sight. For heaven's sake, I hadn't even thought of the man in I don't know how long.

His name shall never again pass between us.

Five minutes later I was sent to the "canteen" (really, just a handful of chairs set up in a loose semicircle around a table with Oreos, Nutter Butters, Fig Newtons, Sprite, and Gatorade) with instructions to spend at least 10 minutes to recover. In a randomly unrelated instance, a photographer from our agency's employee newsletter had shown up, just as I was finished, to take a few promotional photos of the blood drive. I drained for an extra two minutes or so as a result. Considering the masterful way that phlebotomist tapped my fat, succulent vein, who knows how much extra blood I lost?

I sat down in the canteen. I opened a mini-pack of Fig Newtons. I took a bite.

"Well, hello there!" A new arrival rose from the waiting chairs near the entrance and dropped into the seat next to me, taking my hand. "Elizabeth! How have you been?"

I was a little dazed. "Oh my gosh, how are you?" I said, with unfeigned amazement - since, as I mentioned, I hadn't even thought of him since I don't know when.

"Great! Great!" he enthused. "And you, how are you liking it over in your new division?"

"Oh, I love it," I said; "actually, you know, I work with your boss, Bill's, cousin now..."

"Great!" he said. "Bill went over to Travel too, didn't he?"

I was puzzled. The Bill I was talking about is C-Y-I's boss; and while I've seen firsthand the kind of cognitive limitations C-Y-I may be working under, I guess I still expect him to know, at least roughly, what division his boss works in. But he went on. "Bill, the little guy, the one with the... you know... (he gestured vaguely with one hand)..."

Oh, THAT Bill. "No, he went to a different division," I said. "It was good, he seemed to like it there."

"I was happy to get out of our old office myself," he said. "But I'm really glad I was able to finish up that last big project I had. Man, you helped so much with that. You probably 10-keyed about eight times as much as everybody else who was doing it. You were so good at it."

I felt unprepared to respond to this gallantry. "Ahahaha," I said.

"So, your name changed," he continued, "you got divorced? So you're single now! Seeing anyone?"

And this is the other thing they don't tell you when you give blood: that the recovery canteen makes great hunting grounds for state employees who might prefer a woman a little on the woozy side.

I left, actually - in fact I told him I am dating his boss' cousin (this is true), so he took his leave, and I smiled and waved and left without finishing my Fig Newton.

But I did notice, woozing gently out the door, that he was wearing normal pants. I'm sure there's some kind of significance to this fact. Maybe after a couple more glasses of wine, it will all make sense.

Labels: , , ,