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Nancy The Needler Strikes Again!

, , | Healthy | March 4, 2020

(While I am very squeamish about needles, I like to give blood often because I am a universal donor. I have family that have needed transfusions, so I like to donate in honor of the people who have helped them. Volunteers are usually very nice and ease my needle anxiety throughout the process. Not this time, though.)

Volunteer: “Lay down here.”

Me: “Okay. Just so you know, I’m kind of scared of needles. It would really help if you could just count down before you prick me.”

Volunteer: “No. I’m not doing that. Lay down.”

Me: *getting nervous now* “Wait. Why can’t you just count down to let me know when you’re putting the needle in?”

Volunteer: “You’re a big girl; suck it up.”

(She grabs my arm and quickly uses a wipe to disinfect the area. I’m a wreck, so I jump when she does this, even though I’m not in pain. I’m just so anxious about this needle now.)

Volunteer: “You can’t jump like that when I put the needle in! I’ll have to do it over if you jump like that!”

Me: “I won’t jump if you just count down or let me know when you’re putting it in!”

(I’m shaking at this point and close to hyperventilating.)

Volunteer: “What’s the point of giving blood if you’re going to be so jumpy?!”

(Eventually, I calm down enough for her to prick my arm quickly. A few months later, I’m giving blood again and am relaying this story to another volunteer, who was kind enough to count down before putting the needle in.)

Nice Volunteer: “Was she skinny, tall, dark hair…?”

Me: “Yes! That was her!”

Nice Volunteer: “Oh, that was Nancy. We got a lot of complaints about her. She doesn’t come to blood drives anymore”

(Thankfully, I never saw her again.)

We’ve Heard Of Child Soldiers, But That’s Ridiculous

, , , , | Healthy | March 3, 2020

(It’s circa 2009 and there is a blood drive going on at our school. I am sitting with a worker, doing the health screening questionnaire to rule out anything that would disqualify my blood. There are some questions that definitely shouldn’t apply, such as whether or not I’ve been in various parts of the world a decade before I was born, but I understand they need to be asked. Then, we get here:)

Worker: “Between 1988 and 1995, were you in the military or the dependent of someone in the military?”

Me: “Yes.”

(There’s a long pause.)

Worker: “So… you were a dependent?”

Me: *pause* “Yes.”

(Granted, I could have been more specific. But given that this blood drive was being held at a college, primarily with young adults who had only reached the age of conscription in the last five years, AND given that she had my birthdate of 1990 right in front of her on my paperwork… I didn’t think I needed to!)

Too Hot-Blooded To Donate

, , , , | Right | March 2, 2020

(I am between jobs and donating plasma for some extra cash. The majority of people there are not exactly financially very well off. Before you can donate you have to go through a series of tests and questionnaires to ensure you are healthy enough to donate. I’m sitting in the waiting room when an older man storms out from one of the exam rooms.)

Man: “I don’t understand why you are forcing me to go through all of this nonsense! Just hook me up and get on with it!”

Nurse: “Sir, please calm down. Everyone has to go through these—”

Man: “This is no way to run a business! I’ll have you know that I own and run several very successful businesses and would never treat someone who came in like this! Now, are we going to skip this nonsense or are you losing a customer?!”

Nurse: “I’m sorry, sir, but…”

Man: “That’s it! I’m out of here! This is no way to run a business, and I would know!”

(The man begins to storm out past me.)

Me: “Those businesses of yours must not be all that successful if you’re in here selling your blood with the rest of us.”

(The man stared at me, red-faced, for a moment before shoving the door open and storming into the parking lot.)

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.”

This story is part of our Blood Donation roundup!

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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.)