I don’t like the passive aggressive tone of “Be nice to me…” but when you’re down a pint of blood it’s hard to resist a sticker enthusiastically slapped on by a volunteer.
The first time I gave blood was in Perth, Australia. I was wandering around downtown and saw a huge banner flapping on a building, “Give Blood Today!” I thought “Why not?” I found out my blood type is A positive.
A few years ago I started going to the mobile clinic in town. Under a table in the middle of the room there was a cardboard box with “Fragile” in red letters and the image of a full wine glass. I turned to the nurse and said “Sort of gives a mixed message as to who the blood is for, eh?.” She said she’d never noticed that before. The boxes have all been tucked into a far corner of the room since.
I assumed my veins were hard to find and my blood was thick because it always seemed to take at least a half hour to pump out a bag and several nurses would prod my veins looking for a “good one”. I worried when they see me walk in, they collectively groan and draw straws.
52 days ago, my blood was flowing slowly. A nurse came over, adjusted my wrist, and the needle popped out, blood started spraying. “Ohh shit shit!” she put on gauze, and called for help. They couldn’t continue but said my half pint would still be useful. I felt like I let them down.
This time was different. I silently appreciated the nurse was wearing converse sneakers. She complimented me on my skin tone and said directly and in earnest “You know, we love you here.” I let out a little laugh and said that’s very kind. She found a vein easy and smoothly taped the tubing to my arm. I settled in with a few zines, assuming I’d be there for a while. Half way through Katie Johnson’s, “What a Beautiful Face – A Neutral Milk Hotel Fan Zine”, the nurse checked on me and said “Wow! You are almost done. If it was going any faster, I’d worry I hit an artery. This might break a record… wiggle your fingers more… yeah it’s speeding up… Oooo, come on, go go go!” She was leaning over my blood bag, rocking back and forth in it’s sling, cheering the dark red sack on.
I was a few seconds off of a record. The nurse said “Well that was fun” and walked me over to the transition table where I got the sticker and a bottle of water.