i totally wanted to title this post “on whoring myself out”… but i am just too afraid of what kind of google search THAT attracts.
i just have to tell this story: it is just too good. it involves repeating my social security number about 15 times. getting asked if i’d ever been exposed to aids about 25 times. totally blanking when i was quizzed on “behaviors that might promote the transfer of aids” (hi, i’m a public health major and i hesitated. stalled. freaked out a little while the nurse just stared at me, her eyes saying, really? you’ve been learning this since third grade with your bubble gum blowing school counselor.) removing my shoes so my toes so a nurse could check my toes for possible drug injection sites. nearly fainting. totally real life. all of it.
if you haven’t guessed what kind of adventure i went on today, well, obviously i made a trip to the plasma donation center. the curiosity on the whole process was just killing me! i mean, my co-worker talked it up like it was a trip to the carnival… and in her case, a manner of walking out with souvenirs in the form of a phlebotomist turned fiance. again, totally real life. truthfully, i was swayed just by the mention of how much they pay you to just sit in a chair hooked up to a couple of tubes while they drain vital fluids from you, centrifuge them around, fire those life-sustaining red blood cells back into your veins mixed up with some freezing cold saline, and then in a matter of minutes you’re sitting pretty with a wad of cash in your hand for doing virtually nothing. i’d tossed the idea around in my head for a couple weeks, and then just this week i kept thinking to myself “alyssa, just think about how many flights to surrounding european countries you can fund just by having a very large needle jabbed into your arm?! what are you waiting for?”
i am just too easily persuaded by myself.
it went alright at first. i was brave and walked in there like i totally knew what i was doing…. so i’m pretty sure all the “regulars” who the phlebotomists knew by name saw right through me. i bounced from room to room, reading pamphlets, initialing documents, and being drilled on procedures. my arms were wrapped in tourniquets. my veins were deemed “green”. i was given a paper with the words “fast past” on it. one voucher good for one trip to the front of the donation line. just like disneyland! i kept breathing. prayed that i would make it through. finally my name was called, and i followed a lady to a chair resembling a sleep number bed. “right or left?” she asked me . i’d totally prepped myself for this and weighed my options. OBVIOUSLY right, becuase if for some reason something went terribly wrong and they had to amputate… well, at least i’d still have my dominant left hand.
i was hooked up, looked away while the phlebotomist slid the needle into my arm and instructed me to PUMP! by rhythmically squeezing a stress ball while she re-situated the needle for optimal flow. my blood squirted out of the injection site. i tried not to look. “just don’t look” the phlebotomist said. “that’s when they all faint. just avert your eyes”. ahhh reassuring. i positioned my book so that the half inch piece of metal protruding from my inner arm was hidden. i watched my blood flow into the tube, filter out my platelets and clotting factors… it was kind of cool, not going to lie. this is the stuff of life, people!
after about 30 minutes of trying to mimic the expert pumping actions of the more seasoned donors, all of a sudden i started to not feel so hot. all of a sudden i couldn’t see the clock so well. the light hurt my eyes. something weird was happening to my stomach. i tried to blink and breathe a little… i though i was just psyching myself out. it was about right at that moment that the phlebotomist walked by, took one look at me, we exchanged some words i don’t really remember, and all of a sudden i was being instructed to put my legs up under a pillow. an ice back came out of nowhere to sit behind my head. i was handed a water bottle and instructed to take small sips. for about 10 minutes the phlebotomist stood there fanning me with my file, staring me down until “the color returned” as she explained how i’d just had a reaction, and it usually just happens the first time. great! the whole scene basically screamed “HI I’M NEW”. i owned every minute.
when the bottle was filled and my arm was sufficiently freezing from the saline coursing through my veins, the needle was removed and my arm was wrapped in that sweet mesh that just yells BAMF. i punched in my newly acquired pin number, collected my money, and headed out. was it worth it? every minute. private fanner? free water bottle? a little cash? i’ll take it.
europe 2012: getting there by my own blood, sweat, and tears. literally.