People are going to die if you don’t give blood, or so the Red Cross would have you believe. I might buy it if they didn’t make it so damn hard to donate. What an ordeal it is.
The last time I gave blood went something like this:
I started off with the book. Have you seen the book? It contains all of the eligibility requirements for donating. This book, if you aren’t aware, is your chance to fess up and say, “I don’t qualify to donate,” and slink away with your tail between your legs. Trust me, you will be tested on the material in the book and you’d better have the right answers. If you don’t, you’ll be rejected. There is nothing more embarrassing than being rejected from giving blood. They’d rather have people die than take your blood. We don’t understand this though, because nobody actually reads the book. Everybody sits there and pretends to read the book while trying to determine how long they have to pretend to read it to get away with not reading it.
After I finished not reading the book, I put it down. This silently notified the one person who was actually working that I was ready. She knew that I hadn’t read the book, but she didn’t care because she knew that it would catch up with me. She waved me over with a look that said I was bothering her and took me behind the cardboard “privacy” wall.
When she got me behind the cardboard she took my driver’s license and asked me to verify my name and address, which I got correct. One for one. Then she asked me to confirm my gender, so I stood up and dropped my pants. She said, “I’m going to need more than that.”
Then she took my finger, wiped it down with alcohol, and took out this nasty little spring loaded needle. I swear she smiled as she put it on my finger and POW!
Oh. My. God! It was, without a doubt, the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. And then this sadistic woman, who I’m pretty sure moonlights as a dominatrix, squeezed my finger to get blood out of it. By the time she put a band-aid on my finger it had its own heartbeat.
I wanted to punch her in the face, but didn’t. So, I hadn’t been rejected yet. Next came the questions.
She started me off easy. “How are you feeling today?”
“Well, my finger hurts like hell, but other than that, I’m doing ok.”
“In the last 48 hours have you taken aspirin or anything that has aspirin in it?”
“No, but I could use one. Have I mentioned how much my finger hurts?”
“In the past 12 months, have you had a transplant such as organ, tissue, or bone marrow?”
Really? “Yep. Had a heart transplant last week. Sorry, I forgot to mention it when you asked how I was feeling today.”
“Have you ever had a bleeding condition?”
“Not until you shot me with that damn needle.”
Then she got a little personal.
“Have you ever paid for sex?”
Come on, this is a trick question. Every married man has paid for sex, and I’m not talking about prostitutes. Apparently, it’s worth more than we think because even after the sex stops, we keep paying.
“Did you spend three months or more in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996?”
You know what they’re looking for: Mad Cow Disease. Now I’m not a doctor, I don’t even play one on TV, but I’m pretty sure that if I had contracted Mad Cow Disease in 1980 I’d be showing some symptoms by now. And, when she asked how I was feeling I would have mentioned it.
“I have Mad Cow disease, and my finger HURTS!” Or maybe I would have mooed. I’m not real sure how it manifests itself.
“Have you ever been treated for Syphilis or gonorrhea?”
“Treated? Nope. I’m just letting it run its course.”
But get this, chlamydia, venereal warts and genital herpes are ok. I can’t have spent three months in England in the 80s, but genital herpes is ok. Can you imagine the poor guy who wakes up in a hospital bed after surgery and a blood transfusion to find out he contracted genital herpes while he was asleep? I’d like to see him explain that one to his wife, “At least I don’t have Mad Cow disease!”
“Have you ever had sex with another man?” And then they throw in the qualifier, “even once.”
I love that part. “Well yes, but it was only once, and I was really drunk, and I didn’t even enjoy it, very much.”
Now, since I haven’t had unprotected sex with another man who shared a needle with a prostitute in Africa while I visited England for three months in the 80s, and the sadomasochistic dominatrix behind the cardboard liked me, I was allowed to donate blood.
She passed me off to the bloodsucker who had me lie on a cot that was old when it had been used during the Korean War. She tied off my arm with a rubber hose and started to look for a vein to use. “It’s not very big,” she said. Apparently, she had talked to the lady behind the cardboard.
You would think that someone who does this for a living would be really good at getting the needle into the vein. You’d be wrong. If you’re lucky she’ll get it on the first try. If not, and you won’t be, she’ll blame you for not drinking enough water while she stabs you repeatedly. At that point, I just wanted to take the band-aid off my finger and tell her to take the blood from there.
Eventually, she got the needle into the vein and I deposited a pint of blood into a bag, saving up to three lives – if you believe the propaganda spread by the Red Cross.
After all this, you’re probably asking yourself why I do it if it’s such a hassle? Because I’m such a good guy? Nope, it’s because they give you cookies when you’re done. I’ll do anything for cookies.
Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby from Indigo Sea Press. To learn more about Steve visit his website http://www.stevehagood.com