The pleas for help have not gone unnoticed and though I would love to be heroic, the sense of trepidation remains. There are a lot of great reasons why I should just take the leap, but I’ve been scarred, apparently for life, by my prior attempt. When I think about doing it again my mouth goes dry while the rest of me breaks into a cold sweat, and I am transported back to that fateful day.
I was a senior in high school and this would be my first time. Get your mind out of the gutter; I’m not talking about sex. It was my first time giving blood. My school was having a blood drive and even though I can’t stand needles or the sight of blood, I was incredibly eager to participate. I didn’t sign up simply to get out of class; I signed up because I finally could. Stupid me! I finally met the age and weight requirement and the idea of donating made me feel like a compassionate, responsible adult.
When the day arrived, the sun was shining and I felt great. I was well rested. I ate a good breakfast. I hung out with my friends on the bus ramp before school and when the bell rang, I had a bounce in my step. They were calling those of us who had signed up to the auditorium in alphabetical order. Since my last name begins with a “V”, that meant I wouldn’t be called down until the end of the day. I tried to focus on my classes, yet each time one of my friends returned to class, I just had to get the scoop. According to them, it was a piece of cake. Not only did you get out of class to hang out with friends, but once you were done, you also got to have a snack.
About an hour before school ended, my turn arrived, and I wasn’t the least bit nervous. Lying on a cot, I carried on a conversation with the woman drawing my blood and avoided looking at the needle. It really was no big deal. I felt like saying, “Hey, look at me doing my part to help those in need.” Would it hurt to get some attention for my good deed? Ha! Little did I know, I was about to get my fill of attention.
Placing a cotton ball and band aide on my arm, the woman kindly helped me to my feet and directed me to the snack table. The motion of going from flat on my back to standing made me slightly queasy, but those who know me will assure you that very little gets in the way of me and free food. I shuffled my way across the room, ordered my snack, and sat down at a table. I don’t remember who else was there, but I do remember putting my head in my hands and telling the person next to me that I was literally seeing stars. Whoever it was immediately helped me to my feet in an attempt to get me to a cot. And that is when it happened . . . I passed out cold. According to witnesses, my feet came out from under me as I dove face-first into the table.
When I came to, the school day was over and the busses had left. The school nurse and a few teachers were standing over me in concern. They feared I had broken my nose, but otherwise I seemed to be okay. I spent the evening at Urgent Care and the next two weeks on codeine. You can see why I might be slightly traumatized.
Thirty years have gone by and I have yet to give it another try. I want to, but every time I consider it, a whole constellation of stars appears before my eyes. It’s time though! The older I get the more I am personally impacted, as people I care about have needed blood transfusions. It’s time to swallow the lump of fear and take the leap . . . hopefully just not into a table this time. Would it be too much to ask for a little encouragement?