Today’s story actually started back in my college days. As I’m sure is still the case on college campuses around the country, there were frequent Red Cross blood drives. I was always WAY too much of a chicken to donate blood, but my roommate was a brave one. EVERY time she had the opportunity to give blood, she’d sign up. And then, she’d come back to the room looking like she was going to die right in my presence. Every. Single. Time. You’d think she would have figured out that her body wasn’t designed to have a pint of blood leached out every couple of months but apparently her desire to help save lives overrode her fear of the impending illness.
As you might imagine, this whole scenario replaying itself several times throughout my freshman year of college only served to convince me NOT to give blood – ever! Obviously my fear WAY overpowered any sense of duty I might have been able to muster up.
Eventually however, I had kids, and once you’ve been poked, prodded, and otherwise humbled, the idea of donating blood seems like a walk in the park. It was during my first pregnancy when I found out my blood type was “0 positive” which makes me a “universal donor.” I like to think of it as my blood being particularly valuable. I decided it really would be wrong to keep all this liquid gold to myself when I could help save hundreds of lives. So, it only seemed right to show up the next time the Red Cross Bloodmobile came to town.
When I arrived I had to fill out a questionnaire and then have a small amount of blood drawn to determine my hemoglobin level. The nurse explained that they’d found that the least painful way to get a drop of blood from a person was to poke their earlobe and draw it from there. Or maybe it was the easiest way for her because I assure you, it’s not the least painful.
After she did her poking and got the required amount of blood, she covered my earlobe with a small bandage and told me to leave it there for about 15 minutes. Without even glancing in a mirror I was certain that having a bandage on my ear was NOT the “look” I was going for but at least I’d be able to take it off before leaving the building. However, my time in the building was cut short because there was an insufficient amount of protein in my red blood cells with which to save the world. I was a Red Cross reject!
Now, I had to go back out through the crowd of wanna-be life-givers filling out their forms and those gracious donors who were already having the cookies and juice given to those with better blood. My plan was just to get to my car and go home but, as is often the case in our small town, I saw a friend and sat down to talk with her while she regained her strength with sugar. (Why not protein, I wonder?)
Already humiliated enough (I took the rejection very hard), my vanity took over and I quickly took off the bandage on my ear. As we talked, I reached up to check my ear with my hand and noticed it was still bleeding. No big deal, I just grabbed a Kleenex and applied a little pressure because, as you can imagine, that’s way more attractive than having a bandage on your earlobe. My friend and I talked for a while and I was unconcerned about the bleeding that just didn’t seem to want to stop. The next thing I know one of the volunteers noticed I was bleeding and said, “I’m going to get one of the nurses.” And then she started RINGING A BELL! This was apparently the “call” system because immediately not one but TWO nurses came running out to see what poor soul had collapsed on the ground. But there was no poor soul on the ground – just me, the rejected bleeder – with all eyes in the room on my ear!
Of course, one of those nurses was the one who’d put the unsightly bandage on my ear in the first place. She scolded, “I thought I told you to leave that bandage on for 15 minutes.” Then she applied a second bandage and I left – tail between my legs.
It was years before I got over the humiliation and decided to try again. Before I even arrived at the Bloodmobile I learned I was disqualified due to some of my travel destinations. Universal donor or not – I guess I wasn’t destined to save the world with my blood.
And really, only Jesus can do that anyway.
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.