Despite this, I've tried to donate blood regularly, because my A-negative blood type is one of the rare ones, and because I have those Heinleinian notions of Duty and Honor and Paying It Forward. Due to life, scheduling conflicts, ill-timed colds and the occasional overwhelming attack of squeamishness, I don't always manage to give every eight weeks, but since moving up here in 2003, I've gotten my gallon pin.
I've gotten through it largely through sheer force of will, clamping down on the part of my brain that wanted to scream like a little girl. This was helped in great measure by the staff at the Blood Center in Cupertino, who managed the process relatively painlessly and had my complete trust.
Well, at least until recently. A combination of factors has managed to, well, basically traumatize me.
- About 75% of the time after my recent donations, I've come down with bad colds that segued into bronchitis. That's probably linked to starting new temp jobs right around the donation time, and subjecting a depressed immune system to a new infection environment. quelonzia's just flat-out convinced that "giving blood makes me sick".
- I think I've gotten the same person the last three times I've donated, and she's caused me Extreme Pain every time she's jabbed me with a needle. The first time, she missed the vein (which is, according to every other donation nurse and phlebotomist who's ever had to deal with my circulatory system, rather like missing California while traveling west from Nevada). The last two times, the needle was accompanied by Extreme Burning Sensations that were apparently due to rubbing alcohol finding its way into my vein. The techs on duty just shrugged that off, but, you know, that never used to happen. A jab, yes, but not agonized burning. And... you know, rubbing alcohol is Not To Be Taken Internally.
- Today, however, was the clincher. I went in for my 12:15 donation appointment, and, as I was filling out my questionairre, got to the question that asked, "Have you taken any products containing aspirin in the last 36 hours?"
Aspirin, for those who don't know, has anti-coagulant properties in addition to all its other virtues. It interferes with clotting.
Since I'd taken apsirin at 2 pm the previous day (less than 24 hours before), I marked that "yes", and, during the pre-donation interview, pointed it out to the nurse, who waved it off and said, "That's okay."
It most assuredly was not okay.
I waited the usual six hours after donation to remove the pressure bandage, looked at the needle site, and sat down at my computer... then looked again, and saw fresh red.
I have literally had nightmares about this. I freaked just long enough to get my stepdaughter to help me get more gause and another bandage on the site, and, as I've done so many times before, spent the next few hours clamping down on my reaction and Not Thinking About it.
When Quel finally got home (it's her Late Work Week this week) and we went into the bathroom to check the site again, all of the clamped-down panic and squeamishness of years of donation (and a few years of hospital work thrown in for good measure) broke free. Panicked breathing, trembling, classic stress reaction. The site was, in fact, pretty much healed over at the time, but the realization that it was almost certainly due not just to the aspirin I'd taken the previous day but their willful disregard for that information....
I'm done with it. I can't do this anymore. I could bull my way through my phobias based on my trust that the people I was dealing with were competant, capable professionals, and they've completely lost that trust.
If there's a shortage of A-negative, or another Katrina-sized disaster, I'll donate. But, given my druthers, I'll find another location to do it, with different people.
And it's gonna take a while for me to muster up the willpower.
EDIT:And many, many thanks to the Fire of my Heart for keeping me calm and reassuring me and holding me during my freak out.