Sunday, February 14, 2010
The Festive Blood Drive
I'm hoping there's some relationship between Valentine's Day, the day I am writing this, and the blood drive I recently attended (they're both red?).
I used to give blood fairly regularly. Then a few years ago, I gave blood on my way home from work on a Friday. I came home and felt a little tired but nothing alarming. The next morning, I got up and went to water aerobics. I came home and showered. I felt a little off, so I decided I'd stay home for the rest of the day. I put on a black t-shirt that was stained with bleach. I used to love that t-shirt, but one day I wore it to the grocery store and I bought bleach that day. As I was putting it on the belt, I felt something damp and realized the top wasn't on the bleach bottle all the way. I didn't realize til I got home that my black shirt had a big white streak, but I then declared it to be my wear-around-the-house-only black t-shirt.
So I got out of the shower, donned the stained shirt sans bra, and started to change the bedding. My husband even joked about my shirt and I said "well it's not like anyone is gonna see me."
So I came downstairs with the sheets and felt a little worse. After putting the sheets in the washing machine, I started to walk across the kitchen floor and suddenly I realized I could no longer stand, or see. I said to my husband "I don't feel right" and he grabbed me as I collapsed. I heard him call 911 and say "my wife just passed out." I was in and out for the next few minutes but I woke up to 4 guys surrounding me, checking my heart, blood sugar, etc. And my sweet dog Pepper was in the midst of these guys, licking my face. One of the EMTs said "will someone please get the dog out of here?" And even though I was half out of it, I remembered smiling to myself.
They declared me to be stable and suggested a trip to the hospital. I declined. I know what emergency rooms are like and no thanks.
As I tried to figure out what had caused this, I figured it was giving blood and not taking in enough fluids afterward. It shook me up enough that I was a little gun-shy about giving blood for a while.
There is a party center nearby that sponsors one big blood drive a year. I had received several flyers about it and thought well maybe I should go. Free food! Live entertainment! The final clincher came when I got a call a day before the blood drive, telling me I'd get a free "goodie bag" that included a travel mug.
That did it. I needed a new travel mug. So I called and made a reservation for 4:30, planning to go on my way home from work.
The weather wasn't great but it wasn't horrendous. I arrived and many people were walking in at the same time as me. We were greeted by a handsome smiling young man, who asked if we were there to donate blood. He directed us down the hall. Fifteen feet later, another smiling young man continued to direct us. We read from the book everything we needed to know about giving blood and were given a name sticker with a number on it. Then we were directed by another smiling man to yet another room, where a man asked our number and wrote it down. Every few minutes someone would come out and call out the next number. I laughed and told the woman next to me that I felt like we were in the middle of an assembly line and she agreed but added that it was "very well organized."
When our number was called, we went to a room full of cubicles and completed the computer questionnaire. Then we were directed to the main ballroom.
Walking into the ballroom just made me smile. It was filled with cots and volunteers and a high school choir singing, loudly, with bad soloists singing loudly. It reminded me of a Chevy Chase movie.
We all donated blood and were then directed to an area with small tables with tablecloths where many people sat. I thought, as I usually do, I don't really need a pack of cookies, and then I smelled the air, and it was heavenly food. I looked over and there were tables set up with chafing dishes of food. Lots of food. Some kind of wonderful smelling pasta, salads, cookies, many drinks, etc. And I thought oh what the hell. So I helped myself and sat down.
Everyone said hello and while we all ate in silence, this blood drive continued to amuse me. An announcer told us that they had already collected 700 pints but their goal was 1,200. There were 2 hours left to go. The weather probably kept some people away. But I thought this is kind of fun! And entertaining! And festive!
And then I picked up my goodie bag - a tote bag with a travel mug, a flashlight, a deck of cards and a water bottle.
I will be back next year.
And happy valentine's day.