Saving Lives

I walked in, signed all my papers, read the pamphlets. And then I waited. And waited. Watching men and women in white coats bustle around me, all busy with blood on their hands.
Someone calls my name in a tired voice and I walk over to their table. A short lady with chocolate brown hair and six ear peircings starts asking me questions. And I answer them as best I can.
“Have you taken any … in the past 12 months?” – “No”
“Have you taken any illegal drugs in the past 3 years?” – “No”
“Have you been on any medication recently in the past 12 months?” – “No”
“Have you taken any … or anything with Tylonol in it in the last 24 hours?” – “No”
“Have you …………………………………………………..in the past 12 months?” – ??? – “No”
“Have you left the country in the last 3 years?” – “Yes”
“Where did you go?” – “On a cruiz to Bermuda”
“Have you had sex for drugs or money in the past 12 months?” – “(smile a little) No.”
“Do you or a partner have HIV/AIDS?” – “No”
“Have you had sex with a homosexual male in the last six months?” – “Haha. (switch back to a serious face) No”
“Have you served time in a prison in the last 12 months?” – “No”
“May I see your finger?” – I hand over my finger and she stabs in without warning. “Ouch”
“That’s nothing,” she says, “Go on over to that table over there.”
So I go over to the designated table and hop up onto it. Another lady with chocolate hair, but no piercings, comes over and says that her name is Cindy.
“Hi, Cindy. I’m Katie”
Cindy cleans my arm with alcohol and then suposedly finds my vein. Then she pulls out a swab on a stick (SOS lol) and rubs yellow iodine onto my arm in a big rectangle. The SOS gets thrown away and she pulls out another to repeat the process. After all that is done, she sticks me for the first time.
It’s just a pinch at that point so I only flinch, telling myself that I will be fine so long as I don’t look at it. But she missed, so she did it again. It hurt a little more this time but it wasn’t horrible. After that things went well for a while, I just had to squeeze that stupid stress ball that looked like a dying fish every 5 seconds. I felt bad for strangling an already dying fish, so to try and make amends, I named him Lenny like in Of Mice And Men. It seemed appropriate at the time.
And then something bad happened.
“Oh, it slowed down.” Cindy said in a way too happy voice for this line of work, “I’ll have to try again.”
Crap.
So Perky Cindy took out the needle and tried again. And again. And again. And again. Then she finally got it. But as soon as she let go of the thing, it fell loose again. Instead of just taking the thing out, she insisted upon diging around under my skin for a vein to stab. This process personally took too long and was WAY too uncomfortable.
The temperature in the room went up alot, especially since I’d been cold when I first got there. My stomache turned around and around to the point that I thought I might be sick. But I was too tuff for that so I just bit my lip. I stared at the ceiling and watched with horror as it began to spot and fuzz around the edges. I blinked again and again until the fuzzyness faded.
“You ok sweetie?” asked some old lady from the desk. – “Uh, yeah.”
“All done.” said Perky Cindy.
I tried to get up.
“No, you aren’t done. I found the vein. You have about 5 more minutes left.”
And I made a mistake. I looked at it. Deep red, almost black, flowing through a tiny plastic tube. Something I ate earlier that day made a run for it but I managed to keep it down.
Five long minutes later, Perky Cindy pulled out the needle and replaced it with a chunk of gauze. I had to hold my arm up in the air and apply pressure to my wound for a small duration of time, then she replaced it with another chunk and taped it down.
I saved three lives that day, or so they tell you as they give you the recruitment forms. But I would like to think that I really saved three people with my pint of blood. Even if all I physically got for it was a t-shirt, some snacks, and slight nausea. I got this wonderful feeling in the pit of my stomache that I did something good, but I did think it was me getting sick at the time!

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