Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trust Issues, Blood Donations, and You

I have trust issues.  This is not news, I’ve talked about them before. 

I think if I’ve learned anything about how to manage them better (and “learned” is a big big stretch right there, because I’m not sure that being bounced and pinwheeled back and forth through life events is “learning” so much as it is “enduring.”) I think it’s that time grants you an interesting kind of exasperated patience, where at some point in your life, you simply look at the looming goblin Trust Issue and say to it, “Screw it.  I don’t have the energy to feed you anymore.”

And then the Trust Issue doesn’t necessarily burst into a bloody mess like those vampires did on the True Blood season finale, but without the metal energy the Trust Issue needs to inflate and take over your anxiety, it recedes and becomes part of the furniture.  Here’s my Body Image couch, here’s my Career Momentum refrigerator, here’s my Trust Issues table.

And so it was that I was gritting my teeth in the waiting room of the Blood Donation Center at the hospital this morning.  I’ve mentioned Hudson and Abella before, here’s their website

And though we lost little Hudson back in 2008, his sister Abella has continued living as a happy little girl, who has the burden of recurring tumors, you can read her story here:  I used to bang down the Donation Door for Hudson, with about 50/50 percent success rate (meaning I’d get bounced half the time because of low blood iron), so I was happy to answer an email request from my friends at We Can,  asking me to come down and donate for Abella, who’s facing an upcoming surgery, and needs blood.

So I had mainlined a bunch of broccoli and red meat over the weekend, in preparation to boost my blood iron content.  I did my sneaky thing of drinking a tiny bottle of Diet Coke and oceans and oceans of water an hour before the donation, so the blood would be good and flowing.  I had shown up right at 8:00 am for my appointment.

And now it’s 8:45am and I still haven’t been called in.  A gal who came in AFTER me who’s donating platelets gets to go back BEFORE me.  There’s an older gentleman manning the desk, and I’m trying really really hard not to think ugly thoughts like He’s Incompetent Because He’s OLD.  When I say, old, I mean Old Enough To Have White Hair and Wrinkles Old.  So, someone in his 60s.  I catch his eye, and he actually gives a start.  “Oh, I’m sorry.  I kinda… I kinda forgot about you,” he stammers.  Okay, well, I’m the only one in the waiting room now, so that sentence does not reflect well on you.

I try to think nicer thoughts.  He must be stressed.  Maybe he’s new?  Is he a volunteer, as opposed to a staff person?  Why would they let volunteers run this part of the blood donation process? 

The Trust Issue starts to inflate.  What if he really IS incompetent?  What if my blood doesn’t go to Abella like it’s supposed to?  Oh, no.  HELL, no.  That is not happening on my watch.  This blood in my body belongs to me AND Abella.  Nobody else.  Not right now.  Maybe later, once Abella is taken care of.  But not today.  Today, any blood coming out of my body is going to Abella, come hell or high water.  Unless I get into a fistfight or car wreck, and the only place I’m trying to go right now is BACK BEHIND THE DOOR.

So I get up and gently inquire of the Older Guy Behind The Desk if it’s clear on the form that my blood donation is supposed to go to Abella.  Yes, he says, yes, yes, it’s all right here.

Trust.  Trust.  Trust.  Everyone makes mistakes, but things will be fine once you get back behind the door.

I finally get Behind The Door, and answer the standard questions correctly, and she takes my blood pressure, my temperature, and then she stands, “Ready to go?” 

And I look at her for a beat, “Um, aren’t we supposed to do the blood iron thing?”

She looks at me strangely, “Well, you can if you want.”

What?  do you mean I get to SKIP the Red Machine O’ Death!  Joy!  Rapture!  Wait!  This can’t be right!

It’s not right, in fact, and I quickly figure out that Older Guy Behind The Desk thought I was giving platelets today, instead of whole blood. 

Trust… trust… trust… Gaaaaaaah!  The guy’s incompetent! 

So after we get THAT issue straightened out (the nurse jokes that “it’s only four mistakes on the form,” and “he must’ve had a senior moment”) we tango with the Red Machine O’ Death, and I squeak by with a 12.7 (12.5 is passing), and off we go to the chair.

Trust….Trust… trust… we’re on our way…

The nurse preps the arm, hands me the squeezie thing, marks which vein she’s gonna tap, I feel the needle sting, and then she says the phrase nobody really wants to hear, “Hey, where’d the vein go?”

Trust… trust… trust… AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

The needle’s in my arm, but not my vein.  Oh great.  She goes to get another nurse, while I work on remaining calm.  Here comes another nurse.  It’s a guy.  A friendly guy, sure.  And he thinks I’m going to pass out, so he keeps asking me to wiggle my toes.  I know very well I’m not passing out, I’m much too annoyed to be passing out, but I dutifully wiggle my toes for him, and he gets the needle in the arm and the blood starts flowing.

I fill up the bag in under five minutes again, and the nurse gives me two glasses of orange juice and a stack of sugar cookies to take with me for the rest of the day.  I think she’s embarrassed that this adventure was so rocky.  But it’s par for the course with me and Blood Donation.   

But if this is what I have to do, if I have to battle Older Guy Behind The Desk and Nurse Who Can’t Get The Needle In My Vein, if I have to stare down my Trust Issues all so I can get a pint of my blood out of me and to a really brave eight year old girl who’s got tumors on her windpipe and lung, then that’s what I’ll do.  And will continue to do, for as long as she needs me.

And I will remember this sign.  It’s not HAWK YOU, like it reads on first glance.  It’s THANK YOU.

That’s what I’ll remember.  :)

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