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The Veinless Wonder MAG
As we neared the highway we talked in nervousstutters lined with excitement. We sang along with Journey and tried toboost each other's confidence. This was a first-time experience for allof us, but we were determined. We were going to be heroes. We were goingto save lives. We were going to give blood.
"I get nauseatedat the idea of taking my pulse," Allison shared.
"We'llall be there to support you. Don't worry," someone chimed. Allisonshuddered again and we tried to change the subject. No sense worryingbefore we had to.
After what seemed like ages, Jess finally founda parking space. We took a breath. It felt like we were braving theArctic tundra, but we smiled and laughed anyway. It's hard to discouragea hero. The Red Cross flags were soon in sight and we walked a littlefaster. Warmth, blood and cookies ... I couldn't wait.
Westepped inside and followed the signs. I was shivering, but more excitedthan anything. We came to the door and shed our coats and mittens. Thiswas it.
After reading the "Need to Know" information,we received a clipboard of questions that would determine if our bloodwas worthy of this honor.
"Are you a first-timedonor?" a woman asked.
"Then you get this sticker. Put it on your shirtwhere they can see it." She smiled and moved to the nextperson.
"Thank you," I blurted.
We moved as amass of virgin blood carriers to some chairs and filled out the form.Name, address, phone number. Are you in good health today? You betterbelieve it! Have you been outside the country in the last six months?Nope. Have you had sex for payment or drugs since 1977? Definitely not!After having our blood pressure and temperature noted on the form anddetermining that we were not anemic, we waited. Soon we would be facedwith the moment of glory. Why is the stupid room air-conditioned? Iwondered as I shivered. I looked with excitement at the maze of lawnchairs. Each held a person giving or getting ready to donate. Soon itwould be my blood flowing through the clear tube. Soon I would be theperson sharing life. I shook my foot anxiously in the air. My turn wascoming.
"Are you going next?" Carmaasked.
"No, you can," I saidgenerously.
"I don't want to preventyou."
"No, seriously, go," Iurged.
"Okay," Carma said. She was next to accept thehonor. Another hero joined the ranks. It was just Allison and me left.The others were being prepped.
"Oop, there goes Jess. Shemust have gotten dizzy," I observed as I saw familiar shoes raisedin the air.
"Stars," Joe told us as his face turnedwhite.
"Stars?" a nurse asked. Then with the swiftmovement of a professional, Joe was flat, his feet in theair.
"Next!" I jumped. This was it. I walked to a chairwith confidence. I glanced at my first-time donor sticker and feltproud.
"Just so you know, people have had a hard time takingblood from me in the past," I told the nurse. She smiled and askedif I had an arm preference. I didn't so she gave me a ball to squeezeand started pressing my arm with her fingers. No luck. She moved to myright. She grunted and smiled at me.
"I can't feel anything,dear," the nurse said.
"Nothing?" another asked.
"I can't find iteither."
"Let me look." A third nurse was nowinvolved.
"Does she have veins?"
"I won'tstick her."
"Well, Liz... we don't know how, but it seems your blood travels by an alternateroute. Thanks for visiting, though!"
What were they tellingme? My body was not conducive to this hero stuff, apparently. My eyesfilled with tears. I pulled my sleeves back down and stood up. I walkedback to the waiting chairs and tried to brush off my feelings ofworthlessness.
"Liz, what's up?"
"I have noveins," I laughed. Even Allison and Taylor with their fear of bloodwere donating. And I, the one who was so gung-ho about the idea in thefirst place, couldn't. I had no veins. To try and make myself feelneeded, I took a chair and visited my counterparts. We chatted and theytold me they were sorry. Oh, well, maybe next time, though in my heart Iknew I would probably never be able to give blood.
Later, whenthey sat at the recovery/snack table, I tried to make it a joke. Maybe Iwas a frog with an open circulatory system. If they had sliced me itmight have been more effective.
"Hey, now I'm free to get asmany tattoos as I want!" I joked.
"You can go to Africaand drink the water!"
"Maybe I should go straight todonating organs. Anyone need a kidney?" I offered. Jessica and abusinessman we didn't know laughed, but I knew Jessica felt bad for me.She knew how excited I had been. When we were gathering our coats toleave, everyone was happy. Five of us had done what we came to do andone hadn't. She made jokes instead.
The afternoon didn't go as Ihad envisioned it. I still felt stupid and somewhat lost among my happyfriends, but I hadn't been totally useless. I got my friends and a crewof nurses to laugh and I congratulated everyone on their achievement. Aswe walked back to the car and piled in, I sighed, made myself smile anddecided that next time ... I would definitely give a kidney.