THE BLOOD DONATION STORY YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR.

I should tell you I’m not afraid of needles, I don’t faint at the sight of blood or the site of blood.  I am unperturbed by blood unless it is gushing out of my forehead from either side of an axehead.  So when I trekked into my local blood donor clinic, veins held high, ready to give blood and find out my blood type, I was not worried.  My plan was to confirm the results that I got from testing my own blood type at home with an Eldoncard. I would then go home immediately to devour 14 blocks of cheese. People with type B blood you see are the only ones who can eat 14 blocks of cheese without experiencing any gut trouble, according to the book Eat Right For Your Type. I thought I was a B- but I wanted it confirmed so I could continue to eat lots of cheese.

I also wanted to give blood, because I can’t think of a faster or easier way to save a life than by sitting in a chair for 7 minutes and then eating cookies.

As soon as I got to the blood donor clinic I was informed that it would take 8-12 weeks before I was told what my blood type was.  Right there and then, when things started going off script, I should have been spooked.  But I wasn’t. I ploughed forward, shoving my veins at anyone who I thought might want to poke them.

And poke they did.  A nurse asked me if I was O.K. as she positioned a needle over my finger, I said, yup, I’m fine and away we went.  The first poke was to see if I had enough hemoglobin in my blood.  I did.  After answering several questionnaires and declaring I’d never had intimate relations with anyone who had spent time in a Turkish prison, I was ushered into a blood donation chair.

They asked me if I was O.K., I said yup, and they slid a needle into my arm.  Then I just sat there as the bag beside me filled up with my hopefully Type B blood and sloshed around.  I smirked a little with pride as the woman taking my blood told me I was a good bleeder and I should be done in no time. I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever.  I don’t even have to try.  I’m quite amazing.

donating blood

About 7 minutes later my buzzer went off and I was done.  My Phlebotomist removed the needle and asked me how I was.  Fine. I was FINE. Stop asking me that. I’m super tough. I’ve pulled maggots out of a chickens ass.  Seriously, just point me in the direction of the cooki …….  Uh oh.  I’m super thirsty.  I wonder if I should tell anyone I’m suddenly so thirsty I feel like my tongue is made of velcro. Nah.

Huh.  Things seemed weird.  Not fainting weird, just weird.  I decided I’d better let someone know that I think they might have accidentally taken all of my blood.  I wasn’t mad, I just, ya know, wanted a bit back.  Enough to give me the strength to make it to the snack table.   I got the words “I don’t fehleighvmkdmv  …” out of my mouth and in a split second a flurry of nurses were running towards me, tilting my chair back, ramming cold compresses on every inch of my exposed skin and throwing around a lot of medical terms like, “Wow.  She’s really sweating.  Are her eyeballs sweating? I think her eyeballs are sweating.

And they were.

I was now in what felt like an almost upside down position, covered in sweat, wondering if I could telepathically tell anyone I might barf.  Because I didn’t have the energy to form actual words out of my mouth.  Although, being a through and through Canadian I managed to eek out a thank you when one of them put a huge block of ice under my neck.

The nurses circled around me like I was Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree and told me this was perfectly normal and I’d feel better soon.  No.  No, this is not perfectly normal because if it was, no one would ever donate blood ever, on account of the fact that it leads to death.

Were my bowels loosening?  I think my bowels were thinking of loosening.  For the love of all that is holy, please don’t let me be sick to my pants right here next to the snack table.  This is bad.  This is really bad.  I rolled my eyes in a way I thought let everyone around me know I still didn’t feel tip top.

Nobody seemed nearly as worried as I thought they should be.  No one even tried to ask me who my next of kin were. Indeed after 7 minutes or so of sheer hell I was well enough to ask if someone could please find my iPhone, this was a definite Instagram moment.

almost passed out after donating blood

Did I mention one of my sisters came with me and was sitting right across from me giving blood as this all went down?  No?  I might not have mentioned her because as they ushered me to a stretcher (once I stopped drooling), I glanced over  expecting her to be crying into a lace handkerchief and forming a prayer circle. Instead she greeted me with a big smile and a wave.  Like no biggee.  We all die and shit our pants in public every so often.

I didn’t by the way.  Poop in my pants.  I didn’t even faint.  I didn’t throw up.  I just decided I needed to sweat and try to nap profusely.  They wouldn’t let me nap though because every time I closed my eyes some nurse yelled at me to STAY WITH US.  I had saliva running down my chin. I’m not sure where they thought I was going.

I still wasn’t allowed to sit up, and there was great discussion about whether I should actually try to stand as I shifted over to the stretcher.

Can your legs hold you? Do you think your legs will hold you?” 

Lady, my bowels just proved to be as loyal and strong as a German Shepherd,  my legs are gonna be fine.

So onto the stretcher I went, wondering how exactly I ended up here, eyes toward the ceiling, my pint of blood probably lonely and scared in some cooler somewhere.  Who DOES this?  I mean people do this all the time but who ARE they?  From my vantage point on the stretcher I could pretty much stare at everyone without fear of seeming suspicious and gawky because I was obviously in distress and possibly even suffering from some sort of brain damage.

Across the way I saw a girl of about 19 who I recognized as a cashier from my local garden centre.  She was fine.  Beside her was a man around 70 sounding a bit crotchety and letting the Phlebotomist know they should use his other arm; they always use his other arm.  He was fine.  Eating their recuperation snacks and juice were a wealthy looking woman and a friend of the 19 year old.  They were fine.  There were white people and brown people, women and men, young and old.  All of them spending the end of their holiday Monday in a church community room giving blood for someone they’ve never met, would never meet and who would never get the chance to thank them.  Why is giving blood so easy for them?  Why not me?

When I was finally able to sit myself up, an organizer brought me some juice and thanked me for coming out.  She kneeled down close to me, touched my knee and in a concerned voice, gently whispered into my ear “Did we get a full pint out of you?

I laughed so hard I thought blood was going to start gushing out of the pinprick in my arm again.  I don’t blame her. I wasn’t insulted.  Getting and giving blood is important stuff.  YUP.  You got the full pint and judging by the way I feel, you got one of those big pints.  You super-sized it.

The nurses who flurried towards me earlier all asked if I was feeling O.K. and of course I said Yes.

I’m fine.

I’m super tough.

I’ve picked maggots out of a chicken’s ass.

Or as I’ll say from here on in;

I’m fine.

I’m super tough.

I’ve given blood … without losing control of my bowels.

That was a pretty funny post, right?  Wanna read something even funnier?  I’m gonna give blood again.

131 Comments

  1. Saude says:

    This is really important, a true act of kindness

  2. Candice says:

    I tried reading the comments but never found it. Did your blood type turn out to be B-?

    Thanks!

  3. Allison says:

    That has got to be THE funniest thing I’ve ever read!! With all the weird feelings you were having after the pint, you almost sh*t in your pants!! I was wiping tears at that point.

  4. James says:

    Laugh lines for me were ” sick to my pants” and “we all die and shit our pants in public every so often.” Those lines and the fact that you kept me reading long enough to find them… You may have an aptitude for this.

  5. Cheryl says:

    In the past 10 minutes I’ve read two of your stories to my husband and shared with two people on Pinterest. I’ve truly enjoyed reading your posts! You’re a very talented writer. Keep it up!

  6. Maggie Van Sickle says:

    This had to be the funniest post ever. Tried to share with my son but I couldn’t because I was laughing so hard. I was crying with laughter and my nose was running. By the time finished reading your post I looked like I had been weeping for days over the loss of a loved one
    Thanks for sharing your almost poopy pants next tone the snack Shack story. Loved it best so far

    • Karen says:

      LOL, Thanks Maggie! Honestly when someone tells me I caused bodily fluids to run, that’s the highest compliment I could ever hope for. Now go wipe your nose. ~ karen!

  7. Cassandra E says:

    Oh geez. My husband must have received your blood. It goes in much more slowly than it comes out. It takes us two hours to get to the transfusion center. Another hour or two to test. And then the blood transfusion. They’re usually two hours. But we shut the place down the other night. A Friday night. On a holiday weekend. Someone’s ginormous bag of blood took forever to go in.everyone trickled home but our exhausted nurse and that bag of blood.
    In all seriousness, thanks for donating. My husband would be dead without other people’s blood.

  8. ally says:

    welcome to the vampirees’ club…. you’ll get a pin when you’ve given 3 times, and then again at 10 times! yippee.

  9. Cheryl says:

    Oh thank you!!!! Thank you for this post… thank you for giving blood and thank you for not pooping your pants!! Seriously.

    The post made me laugh hysterically… thanks.

    You giving blood saved someones life! When I was 21 and had my first baby I had severe postpartum hemorrhage 10 days after the birth. I lost 75% of my blood… (my AB+ or – blood, by the way. I can’t remember which!!) I am alive in huge part because of the blood that people donated to me. This was in the early 80’s smack dab in the midst of the AIDS crisis and I was scared to death… that’s a whole other story. But I’ve now got grown up kids and grandchildren thanks to people who gave blood!!!

    I am also a heart attack survivor. A month after I turned 50 I had a heart attack. A widow maker. Obviously it did not make my husband a widower… I’m here telling you that when you have a heart attack your entire body goes haywire. You need to pee, poop and you feel like you are dying. The last thing I wanted to do was die while shitting myself – I mean really – how embarrassing and gross.

    So here I go with my PSA – take really, really good care of your health so you won’t have a heart attack. They are the number 1 killers of women – even more so than ALL the cancers combined!!! If you ever have shoulder or upper arm pain or neck or upper back pain, shortness of breath… if you ever break out in what you think might be a hot flash along with these symptoms… if you ever feel nauseous… and have ANY of these symptoms… if you ever wonder – I wonder if this could be my heart? IT IS!!!! Call 911. Seriously, It’s not worth your life to feel like a jackass. Better to feel stupid than to be dead.

    Thanks again – I love your blog!!! Thanks again for giving blood!!!

    • Karen says:

      Yikes! My mother’s neighbour who isn’t even 50 had that very same heart attack. He survived. Which as I’ve come to understand is rare, so congratulations! I’m now officially terrified of having a heart attack a month after I turn 50, so thanks for that, lol. I will be very, VERY aware. 🙂 ~ karen!

  10. Remmik says:

    I’m a fit strong male (6 feet 205) in my 40’s and I have been losing consciousness since my teens. No need for a diaper ever and I guess I’m out before I can get funny face and drool happy. I am not afraid of needles and always am hydrated and well fed before giving blood. I have tried 4 times every 7 years or so to see if it has changed but no it has not. Unfortunately I stopped donating blood for this reason.
    Now it did just almost happen today when I had 7 vials of blood taken out for lab work for my major 40’s physical exam. I don’t get it but actually the last time I gave blood I didn’t pass out. This is because the tech knew what to do, he put a cold compress around my neck. OMG what a soothing relief it was to not pass out and have the feeling quickly subside. For me the pass out process seems to take forever and I really don’t like feeling totally out of control like that. It’s also such a hollow body feeling that is hard to discribe.
    This time during the vials being filled I was fine. As soon as I stood up there it came and I sat down right away, since I knew what to expect. Always be vocal about it. I have not had this happen during other lab work so maybe it is the amount of blood being drawn. I didn’t warn the nurse since I didn’t think it would happen but she was good and started fanning me and almost did the same as the last tech. She took a wet paper towel and put it on my neck as she told me to lean my head down. I don’t think I would have passed out without it but who knows. I did try breathing rapidly for a few seconds which might have helped as well.
    I did just read an interesting theory that some specialist have; it’s the body’s response to blood lose to lower the blood pressure to not bleed out and die. They think it can come from the amount of blood lose or from the body recognizing vein punctured or probably both. I have found no info on why coldness on the neck makes this subside but I’m grateful for it.

  11. Melissa Keyser says:

    My husband can donate no problem. He’s also donated platelets with takes HOURS because they pull all your blood out, take the plateltes, then put it back in you. Or something like that.

    I can’t donate blood but instead have donated my hair, 12″ or more, 4 times.

  12. nurse racheted says:

    You ARE hilarious!! I think it just happens, you would know by now if you were a fainter. Unless you were a little dehydrated, people always sincerely believe they drink gallons of water every single day and then their urine is dark orange. I show it to them and give them the stink eye. Then they remember perhaps it was last week they had 3 glasses of water, but they were all big glasses, large! BTW, I’m an ER nurse. If the blood is out in less than 10 minutes they can use all of it, if it takes more than 10 minutes, they have to spin out some component. So, at least they get to use it all.
    Oh while I’m thinking of it, I just had a mammogram. If you have dense breasts you should get a 3D mammogram. FYI.

  13. Amie Melnychuk says:

    I am way too paranoid of needles. It’s to the point that when in labour to give birth to my first child, I freaked out when the nurse came at me with an IV to induce me and keep my hydrated. It hurt like a motha. My mother-in-law was in the room when they were hooking me up to the IV, and said to the nurse “If she thinks that was bad, how will she go through labour?” Turns out I went through labour very well. Like it was nothing at all.

    So I learned that to me IVs are >>>> than pushing a football out of a golfball sized hole.

    I decided I will donate extra breastmilk instead.

  14. nan says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I laughed so hard and shared it. You made our day full of laughter.

  15. Kelli says:

    Kudos to you for letting them bleed you like a medieval witch doctor, even if you did get rather woozy afterwards! (what on earth did we do before we could all record every waking moment of our lives, eh?) Maybe you’ll find out your some extra special, super-rare alien type blood that is worth gazillions! Hey, it could happen.

    However, even though I am an organ donor, get really woozy myself, so I like to think of my personal blood giving antics like I do favored political slogans. Like this. 🙂

  16. Amy in KC says:

    This story gave me the heebie-jeebies. I hate having my blood drawn for labs; I get queasy and clammy, plus my veins are super tiny so the technician usually has to stick me a million times, which is SUPER fun. When I was a teenager, one phlebotomist advised me to never give blood because my veins are such a pain. I’m also a slow bleeder (even though I drink a lot of water throughout the day), so I feel I’m just not a good candidate for blood donation. I wish I could, though, because I’m O-negative (the universal donor; plus, anyone who is O-negative can only receive O-negative, so we are in high demand!). Maybe someday I will try, but I’m afraid I’ll have the same experience you did. 😐

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I did donate recently because I heard that it is a healthy thing to do. The website below mentions some studies, but there is more recent proof that doing so protects the giver from heart attack and stroke. Do some research and find out more!
    There also is a disease for which giving blood actually makes one feel better: hemochromatosis, and it is a problematic and little diagnosed METABOLIC disorder which is usually inherited through dna in Irish family lines.
    It had been 5 years since my last donation because some whack phlebotomist made loud fun of me when I became woozy. Thank you Karen for making me laugh til my nose ran.

  18. jaine kunst says:

    Yes, you are a BADASS, but maybe next time a smaller bag of blood.

  19. jan says:

    Woman, this really made me laugh!! Two or three times, actually– and brought tears to my eyes, even! I used to give blood regularly, and once talked a ‘big macho-type’ co-worker into going with me to donate. He did much the same thing you did– but they never even got any blood from him. As I passed by him all stretched out on the recovery table, I leaned over him and said “Get up. You’re embarrassing me!”

    The little ‘macho underpants’…

  20. Patti says:

    Oh Karen, you’re braver than I am.

    You just nailed my last experience when donating blood in such a big way – I will now just send people to this post whenever the topic comes up because I couldn’t describe it nearly as accurately. It’s such a scene (and totally terrifying, except that you’re too weak to be terrified) with all the nurses yelling “ice” and tipping you upside down and packing you with ice as you just try to stay conscious – we went with my work, and I was so embarrassed, it was beyond words. I haven’t donated, since. And I know it’s been forever, because the day was a big one – I was watching the inauguration of Barack Obama, full of hope, when he was in the midst of his acceptance speech and suddenly I was in a tunnel – the peripherals of my vision were turning black, and he was floating far, far, away. When I realized I was about to pass out, I tried to call out for help, but I couldn’t open my mouth, so I tried desperately to grab their attention with my eyes, and that didn’t work, so when a nurse came to check on me, I mustered a very quiet “help” and that was the last word I could squeak out.

    The reason she asked if they got a whole pint is because that way, your donation was not in vain! My understanding is that if you’re at risk of fainting before the bag is full, the way they remove it doesn’t follow the protocol and risks contamination – so I was told my blood would just be discarded. I’d felt lightheaded the previous time I’d donated (when the nurse asked how I was I said “you know, just enjoying the buzz” and she was all “you’re not supposed to be lightheaded” and ripped out my needle, tipped me upside down, etc.) and the blood was also wasted, so now I am too afraid, and instead, wallow in shame every three days when Canadian Blood Services calls, asking me to donate. You’re a stronger woman than I am, Karen. I’m too chicken to go back!

  21. Jim Barry says:

    “…sick in my pants…” ROFLMAO 🙂

  22. Leticia says:

    Little jealous. I can’t donate blood. 🙁

    Many people on long term medication cannot, I’m one of them. While I understand that the meds in my blood would poison anyone who received it, I’m sorry I can’t play.

    This is probably payback for all those years I joked with tiny girls “You probably can’t even donate blood”. In Brazil the cut-off weight is 50 kilos, around 110 pounds.

    I’m glad you did it, whether you pooped on your pants or not. Now I can live vicariously through you.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, it’s the same worldwide in terms of weight Leticia. 🙂 It may have been why I went down. I don’t own a scale so I’m not sure what I weight but it’s around that. Maybe if I gorge on pizza from now until the next time it’ll go better. Good excuse. ~ karen!

  23. Lynn says:

    I have to commend you an all the rest you you that give Blood.
    Even though I would love to give blood I have never been allowed due to meds. Even when I have had to go in for surgery they wouldn’t let me give blood in case I might need some during the surgery. Which really irked me to no end, not being able to give for my self.
    Every time I hear a blood drive is going on I feel the urge to be first in the chair. Knowing that I will be rejected has been a very sore spot for me since I turned of age to give blood.
    It’s like being told you are not up top par.
    So again I say thank you to all you that give Blood.

  24. Nicole Sparks says:

    I had the exact same thing happen to me the last time I donated (and I’d given before with no problem). I thought “I don’t feel so…” and went to put my hand on the bed thing, and the next thing I knew I was on the floor. Since this was a blood drive at my office, it was a bit embarrassing. But I think I managed to get out of a really dull meeting by saying I was still recovering, so it wasn’t all that bad.

  25. Jeanette says:

    First time I went, I was just turned 18 years old. Went on my own, just after work. Had no problems, gave my pint in record time, gulped the juice and cookies and ran down the street to meet the boyfriend and go out. Then the letter came announcing my awesome O-negative blood and begging me to go back as often as I could. So when the allotted period had passed, I went back. T
    When I nearly passed out was when the reception-lady looked at my card and turned round and said to a colleague “are we triple-bagging O-negs today?” “THREE PINTS ! !” I squeaked. NO, not 3 pints, turns out what they did was put the one pint into 3 smaller bags to conserve that good blood.

  26. Melanie says:

    See if they can adjust down the draw rate (or whatever it’s called). I am also a fast bleeder and used to get a bit woozy – nothing like upside down and sick to the pants – but they may be able to slow the flow a bit with the little wheel-y clampish thing on the tube so you don’t die next time.

  27. MindyK says:

    That’s pretty much what happened to me every time I tried to give blood. Upside down, packed in ice, sweating. And oddly deaf. The Red Cross finally asked me to please stop volunteering. Apparently they can’t use partial donations, so it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. (THAT is why they asked if you had finished your pint!)

    I have learned the hard way that I also get woozy when they take those itty bitty test tubes of blood required when you have a blood test for, say, a physical. I have one of those coming up next month. I’m already hoarding Snickers bars in preparation.

  28. Catherine Hamilton says:

    Congratulations. You have done a very, very good thing.
    Next time, be sure you have had a lot of water during the day before you go to the clinic, and it isn’t frowned upon if you take a juice from the volunteers before hand (not too sure about the cookies, though!). That way, if you haven’t had enough liquid during the day, you can top yourself up before you actually donate.

  29. Jody says:

    The best part of that saga is you will be going back to give more.

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