Monday, June 09, 2008

Trials and tribulations in blood donation

B.B. The Blood Drop

When my friend Dan and I were 17, he expressed a great interest in donating blood. Dan and I made frequent trips into the city (we lived an hour out of downtown Melbourne) but this one time, Dan expressed that he had done a bunch of research and planned to give blood this day. I admired his decision and we planned to head over to the blood bank on Collins Street after doing our usual round of record stores. As the day wore on, Dan got antsy to get to the blood bank. We headed down there, only to find after the arduous walk to the arse end of town that the bank closed at some stupid hour like 3 or 4pm. Whatever the case, we had missed it. We left and Dan was very cranky about not being about to donate blood. Gosh, I couldn't believe he wanted to give blood so badly! What a sweetheart, even if he wore stupid silky goth shirts and red lipstick that he was too embarrassed to buy on his own. It was nice to see he was as dedicated to this little cause as he was to his fussing about his goth appearance with clothes and cosmetics.

Some goth kids, much like Dan's crew at the time.

Not long after, while I was not with him, he told me he had made another attempt to donate blood, this time arriving during business hours only to be told that as he was under 18, he required written consent from his parents. Foiled again!

Finally, on a third trip, Dan made it there, during business hours, with the parental slip. It was finally going to happen. The person tending to him pricked his finger for a mere sample, but Dan fainted. After they roused him, he was put in a wheelchair and given a donut. No blood was given and it seemed as though he could not handle it as he shared my belonephobia (fear of needles) so blood donation was quite out of the question altogether.

Poor Dan. After all his gallant efforts, he simply couldn't go through with the procedure. After this incident, while attending a stage version of Trainspotting, Dan fainted in his seat as one of the actors described in detail the injecting of a needle. Holy crap! He was worse than me!

So Dan and I are now 30 and over the years since his fateful trip to the blood bank, I have told the story many times, always with a swell in my heart for his good intentions.

In that time, my own fear of needles has increased. It already existed at that time, but I think it has only gotten worse. I've required a few blood samples and shots in that time, and all have resulted in hyperventilating, and on one occasion, crying. If I am told I need a blood test I ask it be done immediately as the anticipation for it makes me crazy. When I was in year 8, my friend who was two years older got a tetanus shot at school. I feared this shot for two whole years, so by the time I was in year 10 and everyone my age was getting the shot, I dodged the co-ordinated who hunted me down for my permission slip (which I had not given to my parents) and on the day of the needle I stayed behind in the graphics room with the daft Mr. C who was too clueless to question why I was the only one not going for the needle. I wish I was as smart as Kristen who wisely got her slip signed, but then crossed out the needle part and only got the oral sabin against polio. I was willing to risk polio to not have that needle.

Dan's donation attempt always inspired me, but I knew I just couldn't do it. I then set about encouraging others who do not fear needles to donate blood. I felt that in doing so, I was doing my bit. I had been nagging at my sister for some time, since she actually stares at the whole injecting process with much delight, to go and donate blood. She was keen, and after a few years of urging, she finally got around to it and I believe she has now done so twice. I was once at a party and got talking to my friend's mum who is a blood bank nurse. I told her my whole scheme of encouraging others since I was too fearful myself and asked her what she thought. To my delight she was 100% behind my plan and told me how frustrating it is dealing with people like me who freak out and that's it's more trouble than it's worth. She also looked at my veins and deemed them crappy and hard to find, further supporting my reasons not to personally give blood. Once I got this vindication from the blood bank nurse, I proceeded about my business of badgering others.

This could be yours if The Prick is Right!

I've not really badgered too many, mainly my sister, so I urge you now, if you are not afraid of needles, please give blood! From what I just read on Wikipedia, blood banks struggle to keep a three day supply for day to day blood transfusions. If you can go in there, suck it up and give blood without a fuss, please do it!

In the USA, head to The American Red Cross site, or in Australia, the Australian Red Cross. Anywhere else, just bloody Google it yourself.

Back to Dan, as I said, I've been telling his sad story for 13 years now. Dan and his girlfriend were visiting Gregg and I in LA a couple of months ago and I thought it only right to fill Geri in on one of my favourite Dan stories. I got through the whole thing as I have told you after which point Dan added a footnote to the story which I never knew about my former goth friend,

"You know, the only reason I was doing it was because I thought it would make me pale."

blog comments powered by Disqus