Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Perils of Drinking too Much Coffee

I donated blood yesterday at a local Catholic church/school. I find the main downtown donation center to be extremely inconvenient in both location and hours of operation, so I jumped at the chance to go to this blood-mobile.

They've changed the procedure for testing for iron. It used to be that they would place a drop of your blood in a vile of something and observe how quickly it dropped. Now they insert a drop of blood into a small machine which calculates the iron content and spits out a number. Much less room for interpretation. I've never had a problem with iron content, so this was a fascinating new development.

Another change is that they no longer zip through the invasive questions at top speed like an expert auctioneer. Now you answer questions like "Have you had sex with a man who's had sex with a man since 1976?" by clicking through computer screens all by yourself. I could see where people might get bored and click the wrong answer. I wonder if that would make your blood unusable or if they would stop the procedure before actually drawing the blood.

When it came time for the blood-letting, I was very uncomfortable with the woman who would be taking care of me. I could think of no way to tell her that I would rather have someone else do it without offending her and potentially embarrassing myself. I heard her telling another Red Cross worker that she'd had two cups of coffee and was a little shaky. So I was not surprised when she had immediate problems with my left arm. The blood didn't flow out through the needle and into the bag. Instead it pooled beneath the skin in a visible lump. I agreed to let them try my right arm (I have very good veins in both arms, so that was not the issue). Supervisor Lady came over, rewrapped my left arm, and got me ice for it. She then started the blood draw on my right arm in a very smooth and professional fashion. However, she went on her lunch break and left the Coffee Crazy to remove the needle at the end. You'd think that would be the easy part, but she still managed to jostle it around painfully as she yammered on about something unrelated.

I headed to the canteen for my juice and cookies, reflecting on how this experience would be hard to get past with regards to wanting to donate again. If I do donate again (and I'm sure I will, just not right away) I hope I have the nerve to speak up if I am not comfortable with someone.

When I left Supervisor Lady was still having a tete-a-tete with the Coffee Crazy. My left arm is very sore and a lovely bruise is already developing.


BerryBird said...

Gah! I hope the damn cookies were good, after all that. My doctor has several different phlebotomists, and there are definitely variations in skill level. There seems to be no good way to get the skilled folks. I told one guy that he did the most discomfort-free blood draws I've ever experienced. Now he flirst with me shamelessly. Sigh. Meanwhile, the less experienced folks stab away, can't read the charts, and end up taking too much blood, then throwing it awy right in front of me. Yeah, thanks.

Coffeypot said...

Back in the Navy days there were three blood banks in Long Beach that gave $5 per donation, but you could only do it every two weeks. Silly them! I would go down on Saturday morning and get blood drawn and $5 from one. Go to the next one and get $5 worth drawn from the other arm. Then I would go to the third place and ask that they draw it from the back of my hand because I had small veins in my arms. That way they didn't see the needle marks from the last two.

By noon I had $15 (a lot back then) for a fun weekend. But I was so weak and dizzy that I just went to the all night movies and slept if off. But I had $14 for Sunday.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I used to give blood but gave it up after several bad experiences. My veins are NOT good. I'd be willing to give if they weren't so careless and hurtful. So sorry about all that.

Coffeypot is a riot!

but I did know other people who used to do exactly that. Or close to it.