Happens All The Bloody Time

, , , , | Healthy | October 5, 2019

(I donate blood about every two months, provided that I’m healthy enough to do so. One thing the blood bank screens for is anemia: my hematocrit has to be 38 or higher to donate and not become anemic from it. Hematocrit in the low 30s is anemic; around mid-20s you’d probably need a transfusion yourself. But some time in the last eight weeks, the blood bank switched to testing hemoglobin instead, the minimum donation number for which is 12.5. I didn’t know it was a new test.)

Phlebotomist: “Okay, your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse look good. Let’s test your iron.” *pricks my finger, takes a few drops of blood, and puts them in the tester* “You’re testing at 12.6.”

Me: “My hematocrit is 12.6? Should I go to the hospital?”

Phlebotomist: “What? Why? Oh! No, your hemoglobin is 12.6, which for our purposes is equivalent to a 39 hematocrit. You’re fine to donate. If you had a 12.6 hematocrit, you’d be unconscious at least. I’d be calling an ambulance… or a hearse.”

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Some People Just Can’t Stick Around

, , , , | Healthy | May 4, 2019

(I’m a frequent blood donor. I have large, easy veins, don’t flinch or get queasy around blood or needles, and am known at the clinic, so I often get the least experienced workers. Sometimes the new, nervous ones aren’t the best, but I figure practice makes perfect, and their mistakes — like not being gentle or having a bad angle on the needle — don’t bother me. Usually.)

Tech: “Hi. I’m [Tech] and I’m going to be drawing your blood today.” *continues with the standard script and questions* “Have you donated blood with us before?”

Me: “A few dozen times; I’m here every eight weeks on the dot. How long have you been at [Clinic]?”

Tech: “Today is my first day!”

Me: “Well, congratulations! I’ll make your job really easy, then. I’m well hydrated and have nice, big veins for you.”

(The tech starts prepping the bag and needle, muttering the steps to herself. She somehow manages to poke herself with the needle.)

Tech: “Oh, shoot, I need to go and dispose of this and reglove.”

Me: “No worries. I’m in no rush. Take your time.”

(The tech comes back, looking slightly pale and panicked. I try to smile at her, but she just seems to be getting progressively more flustered. She tries to stick my vein and misses.)

Tech: “Oh, I’m so sorry. Can I try again?”

Me: *smiling again* “Of course, take a few deep breaths and try again.”

(The tech tries again. And again. Then, she drops the needle and has to get another other. The whole time, I’m trying to calm her down as she seems to be upset with herself.)

Me: “Now, I know I’m not officially trained, but I’ve had a lot of needles stuck in me. Slow down a bit. Breath deeply a few times. The vein is right there. You can do this.”

Tech: *mutters quietly but rapidly under her breath while getting paler*

(She tries to stick me three more times, somehow missing my vein every time. Her hands are shaking and she appears on the verge of tears.)

Me: “Hey, it’s okay. This is a tough job. Why don’t we call over one of the more experienced nurses?”

Tech: “No, no, no, I can do this. Really.”

(She proceeds to stick me five more times, at worse and worse angles. I’m slowly losing patience with her. She’s now trying to stick me with a needle that is practically perpendicular to my arm. She still hasn’t been able to actually hit my vein. What is usually a twenty-minute deal has taken almost an hour.)

Me: “Okay. Get a nurse now. They can help you out.”

Tech: “No!”

(She then rather aggressively jams the needle into my arm, hitting a nerve and nowhere near a vein. I swear like a sailor and rip the needle out of my arm.)

Me: “Listen up. I have been beyond patient here. Get me a d*** nurse. Now.”

Tech: “They’re all busy right now!”

Me: “Okay, fine. F*** it.”

(I then insert the needle into my own vein in one go. The tech looks stunned.)

Me: “Hook up the collection bag and then get me a nurse and get the h*** away from me.”

Tech: *in a shrill voice* “You can’t do that! You can’t! You can’t!”

(The head nurse hears the commotion and comes over.)

Nurse: “What is going on over here? [My Name], why are you still here? I checked you in an hour ago!”

Me: “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, [Nurse].”

(The tech was never seen at that clinic again.)

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They’re Out For Blood

, , , , , | Friendly | April 30, 2019

I am a single woman who doesn’t date. I have a high platelet count, so I donate platelets regularly. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it goes perfectly smoothly, but one time, I unintentionally move my arm, causing the needle to slide out of the vein and blood to go where it shouldn’t go under my skin. They unhook me and bandage me up with no harm done… at the time.

By the next day, a huge part of my arm is black and blue. For the next several days, every time a coworker sees me in short sleeves for the first time since it happened, I have to watch them gasp in horror and ask who’s beating me up, then explain I don’t have an abusive boyfriend or family member, I wasn’t mugged, and I didn’t fall down any stairs. It gets very tedious after the first three times.

I have never moved my arm again while donating blood or platelets.

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Just His (Red) Cross To Bear

, , , , | Healthy | April 17, 2019

(For those who don’t know, there is a specialized blood donation process called apheresis. In this type of donation, the platelets are separated out of the bloodstream and collected, while the rest of the blood is returned to the body. It takes longer than a regular whole blood donation but can be done more often so people can give more. The phone rings and I answer it.)

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Hello, this is [Caller] from the American Red Cross calling to speak to [Husband] about scheduling an apheresis appointment.”

Me: *calling out* “[Husband], it’s the Red Cross. They want to suck your blood!”

Caller: “No, just his platelets…”

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This Is Literally Costing You Blood

, , , , | Healthy | March 31, 2019

(It’s my second time selling my plasma. The tech who got me hooked up the first time is floating around but isn’t the one to hook me up this time. I hear them talking about how many jabs it took them and how fast the machine is pulling blood out of me this time.)

Me: “You’re making me sound like a science experiment.”

Tech: “You are.”

Me: “Touché.”

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