Monday, December 10, 2012

Blood Simple

The last time I gave blood was thirty-nine years ago. I made an appointment, then got pregnant a couple of days later.  At the risk of revealing too much information [but also not caring], I have a history of knowing I'm pregnant at the exact moment the sperm and the egg collide. This is not a skill that's easily marketed.

The first time I experienced the collision, I felt a strange, almost spiritual, euphoria I've never felt before or since. The other times? Sore boobs. But not the sore boobs of raging PMS that come about five days before you want to decapitate friends and family. Just the sore boobs that show up the "day after," because you're pregnant.

Speaking of unmarketable skills, I can also write with both hands, simultaneously, in opposite directions. With my left hand, I can write from right to left -- so the words are written backwards, until you hold the writing up to a mirror.  Meanwhile, with my right hand, I can write the very same words from left to right, like most people, which is also amazing, since I normally write left handed. I know of no one else, except Michelangelo, who can perform this amazing skill -- also not easily marketed. 

When I announced I was one-day pregnant to a group of ladies at a luncheon, they assumed I was kidding. "When's the baby due?" they asked, pretending to care. "In nine months," I answered. They thought I was just messing with them and treated me badly, because no woman knows she's pregnant on the first day. Even when I was five months along, I was sure they were hoping I'd miscarry to teach me a lesson. I had broken an unspoken rule -- wait a decent amount of time before making a pregnancy announcement. As my readers know, decent behavior is just not the Mrs. Linklater way. 

Despite being pregnant, albeit with a microscopic zygote, I decided to give blood anyway, since I would only be two weeks along at the time of my donation.  

My impeccable logic continued on, unchecked, with another amazing piece of rationalization -- since most women don't know they're pregnant for a couple of months or more, I could just pretend I was one of those women -- the ones who don't know they're pregnant -- and give blood.

When I arrived to donate, nobody asked, so I didn't tell the blood bank I was pregnant. Technically, I hadn't even missed a period yet.  Brilliantly, I decided they probably wouldn't believe me anyway, maybe even assume I was making up an excuse to get out of donating. The way people try to get out of jury duty. 

Pregnancy aside, there was the issue of what to eat before giving blood. In those olden days, the blood banks used to make a big deal about the quality of the food you ate on the day you donated. Not too much fat, please, was the warning given to me. Since my entire diet was fat based, from fried eggs and bacon to burgers and fries to fried chicken and mashed potatoes, I ended up not eating anything the whole day. I thought eating nothing would be better than eating the wrong thing. 

Donating blood was easy peasy. They put the needle in and the blood came out. I brought a chocolate malt to drink afterward, my first food of the day, finished it off, and walked down the hallway toward the main entrance of the hospital, the parking lot, and my car. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I started getting dizzy. To keep from falling, I lay down on a decorative bench in the hallway, under an oil painting of one of the hospital's founders. I lay there, like a supplicant at Lourdes, reaching out to anything in a white coat that passed me by. And boy, did they pass me by. I remember thinking how ironic it would be if I died there, lying in plain sight in front of doctor after doctor after doctor. 

Finally, an intern stopped. Grabbing his coat helped a lot.

He got me to the emergency room, where my blood pressure had fallen to 100/60. Anything under 110/70 and I'm horizontal. After the staff in the ER fed me and provided lots of liquids. I was able to leave under my own power after about an hour. My child was born nine months later, all systems go to this day. But I haven't donated blood since.

Until today.

This time they didn't care about what I ate as long as I had eaten a meal beforehand and hydrated. More important was the questionnaire that asked about the lifestyles of the people I've slept with. Anyone who had used illegal drugs, steroids, and the like? Any one with HIV/AIDS? Hepatitis? And a couple of other diseases I have never heard of. Not to mention dozens of other questions that could put you on their permanent DO NOT USE list.

I wasn't pregnant this time. I also ate breakfast -- sausage, eggs with cheese, an English muffin and a bottle of Naked Juice's Green Machine. Fat be damned. And to be sure I was hydrated enough, I drank extra water just before I donated. When I was finished donating, which took all of ten to fifteen minutes, I asked them to check my blood pressure, which [phewf] was normal. Then I stood up, didn't fall over, drank three cranberry-raisin juice boxes like a little kid, ate a couple of bags of cheese popcorn, and left. 

The experience went so well, I now feel self-righteous and smug, because I did something generous for my fellow human beings and didn't need to be revived afterward. 

And it gave me something to write about for my blog.  A win-win if you ask me.


Jon said...

You've just listed all the reasons why I'm glad I'm not a woman and why I'm glad I never donated blood.

I've had a few "spiritual collisions" in my time, but that's another story.

(I'm right-handed but always eat with my left hand. Go figure....)

Mrs. L said...

Jon -- ain't it da troot!!!

~~Silk said...

I've also known immediately that I was pregnant (5 times), and also didn't mention it. I think it's when it implants. That burst of hormones....

Mrs. L said...

Silk -- we should start a club. Or not.