June 7, 2007

Bloody Helpful

  1. Bleed into a tube
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

Last Tuesday we took M north to Boston Children’s Hospital for her (thankfully now infrequent) checkup with her pediatric rheumatologist. (Don’t worry - she’s still doing quite well.)

While we were at the hospital, I donated blood. Either Maggie or I nearly always give blood whenever we visit Children’s Hospital. Knowing I was going to donate, I made sure I had eaten something in the morning and had plenty of fluids in me.

They are always very friendly at the blood donation center of Children’s Hospital.

If you’ve never given blood at a place like this before, I can shed some light. I was going to write a first person account of my visit, but it was actually a pretty uneventful donation, as it usually is. So I thought I would just list some details that may be of interest to the neophyte.

  • I like donating at Boston Children’s Hospital. The staff are friendly and they need the blood for kids. “Give Pints For Half Pints.”
  • You are asked to go over a checklist which helps you determine whether you are eligible to donate. All easy questions.
  • You’ll be given a card with a number to call in case you think of something afterwards which makes you question whether they ought to use your blood. Like if you realize you were sick with a cold.
  • They take your blood pressure and check your blood’s iron content with a finger stick.
  • They put you in a comfy reclining chair where you can relax and think deep thoughts. Nobody will bother you during your donation.
  • They’ll clean your arm and carefully tap a vein while you squeeze a ball to keep the blood flowing.
  • You’ll be done in minutes, and then you get to have all sorts of snacks.

Please give blood, if you can. If you are more comfortable in one place, then return to that place and give.

I am most comfortable in Boston. Donating at Boston Children’s is especially rewarding to us because they give you a pass for free parking at the hospital (It’s like free money!) and they’ll give you a T-shirt promoting blood donation. The friendly staff make you feel quite special. Add that to the excellent snacks and you’re definitely coming out ahead. Your body is making the blood anyhow, you may as well get something out of it. Boston Children’s is where I began giving blood during a stressful time when we were facing a chronic disease and close friends of ours had a newborn with tragic heart defects admitted to the very same hospital. It wasn’t hard to imagine the need we were assisting with. Childhood tragedy had become more concrete.

I used to be really afraid of needles. Girly man afraid. OK - I admit it, I am still afraid. But it always is less of a pinch than I think it’s going to be. You can get over a fear of needles; it’s manageable. This is especially true if you experience the positive feeling associated with donation. You’re giving an actual part of yourself to others. It’s a unique feeling which you have about 10 minutes to sit and contemplate.

And, of course, there are the treats.

On one visit to the hospital, we had K with us. She was probably about 7 or 8. The technicians agreed that if I donated they’d put me in the chair closest to the kitchenette and K could sit in there and read while I kept an eye on her. She was pretty well-behaved and books hold her attention, so I went for it. I worried a bit that she’s be upset by the process of donation, but I figured we’d see how it went.

Once I was immobilized it became clear that she trusted I was in no danger, and she was quite relaxed. She was also excited to be around all the snacks in the kitchenette. The Oreos grabbed her attention.

“Can I have Oreos?” she asked me from a few yards away as I was squeezing the ball. I told her she could have a couple of Oreos, and that was it, else her mother would object.

In child-brain translation she interpreted that as “a couple of 4-packs of Oreos.”

A few minutes later she exclaimed “I ate eight Oreos!” The technicians nearby were amused by my chagrin and burst out laughing.

I said “Please don’t tell your mother you ate that many cookies. Let me break it to her.” (This prompted a discreet round of laughter.)

Maggie got there with M just as I was finishing up and K went around the corner to the waiting room to join her. They were out of my field of vision, but not out of earshot so I could hear K’s words of greeting to my wife.

“I had eight Oreos!”

Cue laughter.

Posted by James at June 7, 2007 7:45 AM
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Thanks for sharing -- the laugh and your blood. Children's hospitals go through an amazing amount of it.

Posted by: Judy at June 7, 2007 8:31 AM

Wish I could, but for some reason it doesn't work well with me - something about the veins and bones being too close together; donating is slow and very painful. Kudos to you, though! And the snacks are the BEST. I can forego the Oreos, but I :heart: the super-saturated lemonade. :)

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at June 7, 2007 9:28 AM

If you can't donate, you can't donate. Maggie is sometimes rejected if she's low on iron. Them's the breaks.

There are plenty of people who can donate.

More on the snacks. This is what they had available the last time I was there:

Fig Newtons
Cheese Pizzas from Bertuccis (Really!)
Other cookies I don't remember
Orange juice
Apple juice
Tomato juice
Some soda selections I don't remember

I usually have a pack of Fig Newtons and wash it down with tomato juice. It sounds weird, but there it is.

Posted by: James at June 7, 2007 9:40 AM

Even when I can donate, they have trouble with my veins "rolling," so it takes a long time. Once they spurted my blood all over my clothes. Wear dark clothes. :-)

Posted by: Maggie at June 7, 2007 2:56 PM

Last time the Bloodmobile came to my office, a coworker complained that I was too "competitive" about the rate at which we were bleeding.

Slow-bleeding wuss.

Posted by: Julie at June 7, 2007 4:26 PM

Great post. But next time you write about something like this? Could you put a spoiler in the very fist sentence? I don't like the sinking feeling I get when anything starts out with "We took M to the hospital". Yep, definitely needs a spoiler.

Posted by: Cindy at June 9, 2007 10:47 AM

In 1985, when me oldest was 3 and half, he had closed chest surgery at NEMC. 1985 was the beginning of people's awareness of the possible danger to the blood supply from AIDS. I said I wanted to supply the blood. NEMC told me to round up 5 donors to ensure 3 pints. It was not that easy. My extended family was quick to volunteer, but that one was ill, this one was on medication....and so on. I was reassured about the whole thing because I was thinking "3 pints? That's all? How bad can the operation be, you have 9 pints in your body." It was some half remembered fact from high school science. The AVERAGE adult has 9 pints, lol. Fast forward to a trip to the Museum of Science a few months later. We all go to stand on the special scale they have there that tells you how many pints of blood are in your body and Tommy steps on and only has 3 pints. I almost fainted! Thanks God I didn't know that at the time of the operation!

I donate frequently. I'm fine as long as I don't look when the needle goes in. And, yes, I am a competative donor...squeeze, relax, squeeze, relax...done!

Posted by: Bostonmaggie at June 10, 2007 8:34 PM

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