"Let's not shit our self, today," I thought, as I balled myself up in the fetal position, took a swig of apple juice, and prayed. "Not on a Saturday afternoon."
I realize, that after a month of no posts, it might seem that I subconsciously wanted things to turn out the way they did when I went to give blood on Saturday, but you would be wrong. For starters, I was going because my girlfriend (aka M-Dash) is a big proponent of giving blood as much as possible, so the last thing I wanted to do was shame myself in front of her. Also, I had been told they gave out cookies after, and I loves me some oatmeal raisin.
(Note: not a real hero)
We entered the blood donation room and were welcomed by a friendly female doctor, and the sounds of murder from the other room. The doctor's name was Kim, and the sounds of murder were yet to be determined. We sat down and were told to fill out a form. There was basic information to fill out and then there were a bunch of medical and lifestyle questions. After reading the questions, it appeared the general idea was, "Are you gay? Do you have HIV or AIDS? We don't care what your answer to the second question is, we don't trust you if you're gay." They also asked a lot of questions about having had sex with anyone who had a bunch of different diseases, which, with my girlfriend in the room, played out a lot like Mitch Hedberg's AIDS test: "I just ask my friends if they know anyone with AIDS. No? Cool. Because you know me."
Having passed the form test, we were granted access into the blood-letting room. We hopped up onto our lounge chairs slash torture recliners, and waited for Kim. On the television, Stone Cold Steve Austin was fighting in the jungle with one of the guys from Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.
M-Dash: What movie is this, babe? It looks like something you would watch. (Read: You watch a ton of shitty movies, including that time you made me watch Easy-A and now I'm gonna make fun of you in front of the doctor for it...)
Witz: Pff, gee, thanks...(Read: Yeah, I've probably seen this movie)
Doctor: I think it's called The Condemned. (Read: I watch movies on USA all the time in this office and this one is definitely called The Condemned.)
Witz: Oh...yeah, I think I might have seen it...(Read: Shit. I've absolutely seen this before)
M-Dash: Why are they--
Witz: --A bunch of convicts were put on an island with tv cameras and told to all kill each other until only one is left...I mean, I think...
With the movie sorted out, it was time to stab us with needles. First, the doctor got M-Dash going, and then she turned her attention to me. "When was the last time you gave blood?" No idea. "Have you had any bad reactions in the past?" Well, when I had an IV hooked up to me about eight years ago, my body went into shock and my blood pressure dropped dangerously low, but that's not the same thing, right? "Ok, let's get you going." I felt the pinch, but didn't look at the needle or blood. I lay there, absently glancing at The Condemned, squeezing the blood-drop-shaped stress ball "every five to ten seconds," and waiting.
("I don't see any reason why a super-violent movie entitled THE CONDEMNED would be a bad idea to show in a blood donation center...")
At about the three-minute mark, I thought, "My stomach feels weird, I wonder if I'm hungry. I hope I get that cookie soon." At the three-minute five-second mark, I felt like maybe I was sweating a little. At the three-minute ten-second mark, M-Dash asked, "How are you doing, you alright?" and I replied, "You know I'm not six, right?" for the benefit of the doctor, when what I really meant was, "I wanna go home. Where's my cookie?" At the three-minute fifteen-second mark, I felt like the world had gotten ever so slightly darker. By the three-minute thirty-second mark, I was drenched from head to toe in sweat, saw stars and flashes of blackness, my face and lips had gone completely white, and I was trying not to vomit and release my bowels at the same time (a double whammy I call the Chinese Finger Trap). "C'mon body," I thought, "Let's not shit our self, today. Not on a Saturday afternoon."
I think it's important to note that, while I don't enjoy it, I've thrown up plenty, both in the privacy of my own bathroom, and in front of both friends and strangers. It's vaguely accepted by society. And, like most people, I have that Cal Ripken like streak of not pooping myself intact, which I see as a small, but significant achievement. It's not the type of streak you want a day off from. So, I was clearly in a dire place.
(Cal Ripken, Jr., keeping the streak alive...)
"Do you think you can finish?" the doctor asked.
"How much longer?" What a trooper, right?
"Three minutes," she told me.
"Nope. Get this thing out of me now." Oh well, maybe not.
The doctor rushed over and told me to cough hard. "This is no time to administer a hernia test!" I thought, but did as I was told. She then activated three cold packs and placed them on my neck, my forehead, and wrist. "Apple or Orange juice?" she asked. "Apple sounds good," I told her, like the five year old child I'd become, and was given a small airline style cup of apple juice, which is awesome, because, like most people, I enjoy juice more when it's served in shallow petri-dish fashion. She then told me to go into the fetal position*, which was great because that was my exact natural instinct: flight. Once again, just like when I passed out on an airplane, my body said, "Listen. Witz. Fight just doesn't seem like our style. I think we should go with the whole flight thing on this one," and shut down.
Apparently, blood leaves dudes' bodies at a much quicker rate than women's, which means this is a good time to insert your own menstrual cycle joke. It also means that on occasion, when giving blood, men's brains think we're dying and go into shock. To be fair to my brain, I was having blood drawn at a rapid rate from my vein, so I WAS kind of dying. It didn't help any that while I was systematically, but still not literally, losing my shit, the increasingly relevant feeling movie The Condemned was blaring on the television with scenes of the bad guy stabbing and shooting innocent people who had no method of escape. Not the best choice for the BLOOD DONOR CLINIC.
Within a few minutes, color was returning to my face, I felt less like I was going to throw up, and was pretty certain (and let's be honest, anything less than "positive" is a very uncomfortable, borderline unacceptable state) that I wasn't going to poop myself. I sipped my apple juice, lay in the fetal position, and attempted to gauge my failure:
"So, did you get enough blood to use?"
"We were about 300 cc's short."
"Ah, so what, you just throw it out?"
"No, no, we use it for research!"
I had failed big time. What research would they possibly be doing on my blood? Research on why I sucked at giving blood? No, my blood was going to be donated to death-metal bands, so it could be thrown onto the audience at Gwar concerts, and we both knew it. Needless to say, I didn't get a cookie. She implied it was because I might throw it up, but I knew better. Cookies go to winners and I had lost.
(Gwar! Because you don't get drenched with blood at The Arcade Fire shows.)
"Now, I want you to come back," she said. "Try again, your body might respond differently, and we'll know to keep an eye on you from the beginning next time." I gave her what I can only describe as a Polite Stare and went to put my coat on. "Do you think he'll come back?" she asked M-Dash. "Maybe," she flagrantly lied, before adding "But probably not for a while..."
Out on the street, on our way to get some Gatorade into my system, M-Dash turned to me with an apologetic expression. "I'm sorry that went so badly for you," she told me. "That's alright," I replied, "I finally have something to write about."
"Don't EVER do that again!" -My Mom,
*"What's your favorite sex pose?"
"Ohhh, I guess probably the fetal position."