Way back in grade school, we got stickers for all kinds of accomplishments. We got stickers when we aced a test. We got stickers for perfect attendance. And of course, we got those little star stickers that went on our Pizza Hut BOOK IT! button (the one time my heavy reading paid off in edible form).
Now that we’re adults, we don’t earn stickers too often. There are only two regulars I can think of: “I GAVE BLOOD!” and “I VOTED!” I’m sometimes embarrassed to wear the “I VOTED!” sticker because it’s basically an acknowledgment that I’ve contributed to this country’s mess. The “I GAVE BLOOD!” sticker, on the other hand, is a badge of honor. You donated part of yourself in order to help multiple people in need, and that merits recognition.
Last night, I got a blood sticker, as shown below. But as it turns out, my wife was the one who fully earned it.
My wife and I signed up to take part in the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) blood drive held at the church I work for. I’ve always aced blood donations; I can’t remember any instances where I wasn’t able to successfully give. The concern going in was that my wife would struggle, since she’s had trouble donating in the past. Coming into yesterday, she had a 50% success rate, and one of those “successes” involved a discovery that she’s allergic to alcohol wipes. She’s faced some hurdles in donating blood, but she keeps coming back to try and try again.
We both breezed through the questionnaire and made it through the round of finger pricking. Positioned on stretchers beside each other, we were able to talk back and forth while the techs prepped our arms.
Things started smoothly. My wife felt a little numbness, but that subsided fairly quickly. I sat on my stretcher and thought to myself, “Alright, we’re pumpin’ right through this.” Then the nausea started. Then I started sweating like a redshirt on Star Trek. I began to think, “Hmmm, I’m getting really warm,” but I only remember getting so far as “Hmmm, I’m getting….” before blacking out.
When I came to, all four techs were standing over me, doing various things like asking if I was okay and flinging ice packs down my shirt. One of the techs also removed the needle from my arm, which is something I didn’t notice until maybe half an hour later (my concept of time was a little sketchy at this point).
Meanwhile, my wife was freaking out on the other stretcher. That sort of thing happens when your husband temporarily loses consciousness and you hear someone yell “EMERGENCY! I NEED HELP!” Everyone calmed her down, and thankfully, she was able to finish her donation.
At some point, I steadied myself and walked over to a table to get something to eat and drink. I sat down, took a couple sips of Pepsi, and felt all those warm and fuzzy feelings making an encore appearance. So down to the floor I went. In situations like this, you’re supposed to lie down with your feet elevated above heart level. Luckily, we have a good janitor and the floor was nice and clean.
I was on the floor for a while (again, sketchy concept of time). I passed the time by staring at the ceiling, and watched as my wife and the tech shared cat pics on their phones above me.
I eventually got up and sat at the table without incident. A turkey sub and Pepsi never tasted so good. Later, we made our way home (with my wife driving, of course) and I spent the rest of the night loading up on orange juice and Nutter Butters.
This morning, I realized I still had the blood donation sticker on my shirt, even though I technically hadn’t contributed a full donation. I didn’t completely earn the sticker, so I designed this replacement sticker which I think is more appropriate:
But why stop with just this sticker? We realistically need several stickers for blood drives. Wouldn’t it be cool if you got a sticker no matter how things turned out? Take a look at these prototypes and tell me you wouldn’t proudly wear these in public:
In all seriousness, I’m grateful to a lot of people for their help last night. I’m thankful for the techs, who knew exactly how to handle the situation and went above and beyond the call of duty. I’m thankful for the church members who showed concern for me (which isn’t a surprise because they’re good at it and I see them care for people all the time). And of course, I’m thankful for my wife, who stayed by my side… and lovingly took the photos shown above because she knew I’d inevitably need them for this blog.
Will I attempt to give blood again in the future? YES. I’ll get back on the horse and do it again, albeit with more sugar in my system next time.
For those of you who donate blood, keep doing it. I know people who have needed blood transfusions in the past, and believe me, your donations do not go unappreciated. If you’ve never given blood and want to give it a shot, go for it. Understandably, some of you are unable to do so, either because of a health condition or because blood makes you squeamish. But if you think you can handle it, go for it. It’s worth the effort. There are people out there who rely on donations for medical assistance, and someday you might be one of those people.
To learn more about giving blood, click here for the MVRBC’s website. If you don’t live in the same area as me, there’s always the Red Cross or other regional blood centers around the country.