Strap yourselves in. This is a good one.
(Side note: I haven't written this post yet, so I have no way of knowing whether or not it will, in fact, be a "good one." However, I'm taking this new approach where I actually have something to write about before I start writing. So we'll just see where this takes us.)
Today, I gave blood for the very first time.
I know, you seasoned blood-givers might shrug off this personal mighty feat. But, let me tell you, I took great strides in life today. I will procede to assume that you care about this achievement and I will blog about it. Feel free to leave at any time.
I suppose this story begins yesterday, when I signed up for the blood drive out of nowhere. So I drank a lot of water. And ate a hamburger.
(Side note: If that's the beginning...let's skip to the middle of the story. That was going to get boring pretty quickly.)
I had to be at church at 7:45 this morning to play in the orchestra for the Christmas drama/sermon/beauty. It went pretty well; I know you were wondering. The point of this part of the story is to tell you that I didn't exactly eat all that much today. Which, incidentally, is not a wise decision when you are about to have an eighth of your blood siphoned from your body.
My appointment to donate was at 2pm. I walked in, read the brochure, did a few pull-ups, pet the llamas, and went to do my background check...with this guy with a receding hairline, a stringy white beard, and a semi-permanent scowl. (Every time I looked at him, I envisioned him brandishing a cane from a dusty old porch and hollering, "Hey, ya daggum kids, get off mah lawn!") He looked all too ready to stick somebody with a needle. And that somebody was going to be me.
So he started in with the questions, stabbed my finger, drank the sample...what? Just checking to see if you're paying attention. (There wasn't nearly enough to drink. Or even sip. At that point, anyway.) I asked what blood type I am and he said, "Red."
(Side note: By this time, I had shifted my perception of him from cranky old loner to tired, witty grandfather.)
So then it was time for the real fun. Nothing to report, really. I looked at the needle before he jammed it into my vein...it wasn't too imposing. I guess. Yes, it was uncomfortable to have a small, metal pipe stuck in my arm. (Surprise.) I got done pretty quickly--having hydrated myself most adequately over the past couple of days--that was a horribly worded interruption--this is definitely not grammatically correct--I'm going to keep doing it just to spite everyone--and, anyway, I got up and followed the nurse's instructions. I also asked to poke my blood bag.
(Side note: It was warm.)
I kept telling them I felt "awesome," and, truly, I did. I chugged some apple juice, swallowed six Oreos, and couldn't stop bouncing around. I mean, I had just saved three lives! I was ecstatic, and for good reason.
I was chatting with my sister when I started to feel really tired. So I sat down: a fairly logical response. I told her not to worry, but I was just going to put my head down on the table. There were a few people hanging around. I listened and tried to rest my eyes.
Then, slowly, I felt a dull dizziness creep all through my head...and there was this weird heat clinging to my skin...and my mouth went all dry and my head got really heavy and I felt like everything about my body was getting revenge on me for taking it for granted. Like my lungs, for example. And my entire central nervous system. Except for my hyperactive imagination--which depicted the late-night news story of the girl (me) who died from giving blood, after assuring everyone that she was feeling "awesome"--and the part of my brain that allowed me to pray, "Dear God, please don't let me die."
(Side note: Yes, I am usually a bit melodramatic. But I can assure you that my response to this situation was 100% valid. This was terrifying.)
I have no idea how much time passed in this stage. When I found a moment to pick my head up, I turned toward my sister. She took one look at me and went, "Um, you're really sweaty. And green."
Naturally, being the Spartan that I am, I responded, "Good. Green is the best color."
(Side note: I have been informed that, when you have given blood in the last half hour and are reduced to a sick, sweaty mess, green is not necessarily the best color. Not sure if I agree yet.)
Overcome by another wave of EVERYTHING, I put my head back down on my arms and tried to make it all stop. For some reason, people were talking to me...when I was obviously in no state to open my mouth. Goodness knows what would have come spewing out. (Probably demons. What?) So I was draped across the high table, nodding and shaking my head when appropriate, and trying to focus on breathing, praying, and not vomiting. At the same time. Not easy.
My dad and my sister took turns pressing cold cloths to my exposed cheek, commenting on both my face's warmth and it's very prominent shade of green. ("Wow, when they say your face can turn green, they actually mean green!") Again, I responded that I was glad my face was green, because at least something about the situation was right. My dad chuckled a little and said, "Go green!" To which I had to respond, regardless of nausea and intense discomfort, "Go white!" (Due to the fact that my face was smooshed up against my arms, and because I didn't want to open my mouth too wide to provoke vomiting, it may have sounded more like "Grwoh Whreye!" Regardless...the Spartan pride was indubitably there.) I refused to lie down, or even take off my band jacket. Too much movement. And the band jacket provides instant comfort.
There came a point when I thought I was ready to throw up, so I stood up, intending to politely upchuck my Oreos in the restroom.
There was a general chorus of, "Are you okay?" to which I responded with two shakes of my head, and collapsed back into the chair. Repeat back to "A." (Just once. Or else you'd be caught in an endless cycle of re-reading.)
Eventually, it was time to attempt the walk out to the car. (I noticed that my hands had mascara smeared on them...apparently, I cried too. Doesn't happen often.) My dad ran out to do something (I couldn't tell you what, I was completely unaware of everything beyond staying upright) while my sister supported me. Walking has never been such a task. Eventually I had about 85% of my weight on my sister's right side, while my legs did this freaky headless-chicken dance. My sister was laughing, and then told me she wasn't laughing...through her laughter. I told her to "shhhuddaph." (Translation: "Shut up." Good-natured, though.) Meanwhile, I had this ongoing head-rush. You know how, at the worst moment of a really bad head-rush, you can feel it consuming your brain, and all you can see are colorful lines and splotches and nothing related to real life? That's how I felt for about thirty five minutes. The sun didn't improve things. When my dad came over, my sister informed him that my "legs [weren't] really working," and somehow he managed to pick me up and carry me to the car.
Halfway home, I discovered that I could kind of see again. I noticed that we were following the Red Cross van. The following conversation ensued:
Me: "Do you think my blood is in that truck?"
Dad: "I'm positive that your blood is in that truck."
Me: "Maybe they should give it back. Clearly, I'm not doing so well without it."
Dad: "I'll get right on that."
He didn't. It's all right. I'd rather save three lives.