I have never given blood before, not because I didn't want to. Circumstances have always worked against my desire to help. Thursday, I was able to break that pattern. I decided to donate blood.
I was nervous, to be perfectly honest. That's normal. Who wouldn't be nervous the first time a lifeless, plastic and metal mosquito feed on a vein?
As I walked into the room, a nurse smiled at me and handed me the forms I needed to fill out. After the paperwork, I sat at a little desk with another nurse. She brushed back a strand of short blond hair as she fastened the cuff of the blood pressure monitor around my arm. As it tightened, a snake strangling its prey, I felt each pulse of blood with thundering clarity. Only a moment and she was scribbling down my blood pressure (110/69) and pulse (73) onto a form. Next came my temperature (98.6). I watched as she prepared to prick my finger and calculate my hemoglobin. I'd had that done once before and watched her little device cautiously. It sharply bit my finger regardless. Hemoglobin came back as normal as could be expected (14.4).
I let my mind stray for a moment while a little machine nearby whirred. Of course the little tool for pricking fingers had shot its pointed end out so quickly. If it were slower, people would have time to flinch and pull away. The blood that came out was dark, a deep burgundy that made me think of my sister.
I vaguely became aware that I had grown hot. My head felt fuzzy and muted, grey even. I figured that, like being nervous, this was normal, but there could be no harm in asking, just to be on the safe side.
"Is it normal to feel hot and light-headed?"
She blinked and frankly answered, "Nope. It means you're not giving blood today. Lie down in the floor and put your feet in the chair." She left me and went in pursuit of a damp cloth.
A third nurse leaned around the side of her desk towards me. "Are you okay, Sweetie?" Her voice sounded odd, like I was under water.
I stayed there for about twenty minutes, head against cool concrete. If I had been left there much longer, I may have struck up a conversation in my head with the nearby trashcan. Eventually, I was given a little food and a cup of water before being released back into the world.
Oh well, there's always next time.