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Friday, January 08, 2010

Blood donation goes awry

Very bad experience at the Red Cross donation center today. I normally donate at Upstate when they have their regular drives (and I've never had *any* trouble), but the timing of their drive was off, so Larry and I went to the donation center. There's an arrangement with the center, so that the hospital still gets "credit" for my donation.

Anyway, it all started because I didn't drink a bottle of water in the morning. I know I need to drink a bottle of water in the morning when I donate and I just didn't. So that's on me.

The first phlebotomist, Christina, didn't take me seriously when I said my veins are tough to get into. I've donated at least 3 gallons of blood, so I know what I'm talking about. Of course, they almost never take me seriously when I *tell* them, but they usually start to believe me once they really look at my veins. But she still didn't really get on board, so of course she couldn't get into my left arm, despite digging around for quite awhile. That hurt and it's pretty bruised. But the fun really started next.

Another phlebotomist, Robin, who works with surgery patients, said she could get into my right arm. Now they never, never do my right arm, for good reason, as was further confirmed. She was also having trouble getting into the vein, but then said she was in. It felt comfortable, so I thought it was fine.

Then she and another staff person said they were taking it out because she was in the artery instead of the vein. When she took out the needle, a couple more staff people came over and they were muttering to each other and asking for things like ice paks. Someone said they were trying to stop the bleeding. I had been looking the other direction, like I always do, so now I looked over, and there's a lot of blood, and I can feel in running down my arm and I started to cry. Not at the sight of the blood (though that's what they thought), but because they all seemed very concerned and it really scared me. It really scared me. The supervisor told me that artery walls are thinner than veins and they can open and bleed more, possibly causing nerve damage, and if my hand starts to tingle or feel numb, that's what's happening. That scared me too.

But it ended up being fine. No tingling or numbness, and so far there's more of a bruise on the left arm than the right. I never felt light headed or dizzy or anything. I don't think I really lost much blood - maybe not even as much as I would have donated. It's just a shame it was all over the chair and floor instead of in the bag, sent off to do some good.

They were super apologetic and they even gave me a free tshirt. I don't think I completely realized how thin the veneer of my bravery is. I fell apart the second things went wrong. Partly because it really does gross me out to give blood, and I just push past my feelings because I think it's so important. But also because I *am* very scared about my health, I *do* feel rather fragile. I never let on about that, but the previa when Alana was born and the celiac disease, and my family history, like Dad and Noah's diabetes, just makes me feel vulnerable in a very fundamental way. I have to ignore it or it would really paralyze me. As with a lot of stuff, I put on a brave front, but underneath, I'm trembling.



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