Saturday, August 14, 2004

Vein in Vain

Well, that was disappointing and embarrassing. I failed to give blood today.

I made the appointment about Wednesday for 10:45 AM Saturday at the Red Cross on Broadway. Late last night, I listened to a voicemail message confirming the appointment - at Foothills Mall.  Foothills Mall is a good 40 minutes from my house.

So I set the alarm to get up in time to drive to Foothills Mall if necessary, thus depriving myself of sleep - again. When I called, it seemed to a take a while for the person to locate me and my appointment.  Sure enough, it was for Foothills Mall.  We changed it to the Broadway office at 11:45 AM.  I then tried to go back to sleep.  It didn't happen.  I got up and wrote a journal entry instead.

At 11:41 AM, I walked into the Red Cross office on Broadway.  I collected information on bone marrow registration, filled out a raffle ticket and several forms (it's remarkable how many ways they've found to ask whether you might have HIV), chatted with several nurses about the screening questions and donation and Shiori, produced my driver's license twice in lieu of my donor card, jumped through all the necessary hoops. One nurse told me that saving a life by doing this was a certainty, because "all of our blood gets used."

Except mine, this time.  Five nurses tried and failed to find a palpable vein on either arm.  I have "rolling veins," and it pretty much always takes multiple nurses and multiple attempts to get a quantity of blood out of me. This time, they couldn't even find a vein worth the attempt.

You know how doctors and diets tell you to drink ten glasses of water a day? That's especially true if you're trying to give blood.  I probably had about eight glasses of water or soda yesterday, plus more this morning.  It wasn't enough. The only vein big enough to be found at all was smaller than their smallest needle.  "I'd probably sever it in two, and that wouldn't be good," one nurse said.  So they gave me an ochre-colored form and a packet of crackers and sent me away.

I'll try again next weekend.  You can be sure I'll make a special effort this time to drink as much water as possible the day before.

Meanwhile, I got a form to fill out for the National Marrow Donor Program, and more up-to-date information on it.  For a plain vanilla white person like me, the cost is now about $85. Prospective bone marrow donors of most minorities can do it for free. I was told that occasionally Wal-Mart or some other big donor will fund these screenings, so that anyone can register and get the blood work done at little or no cost.  So I'll check on current and upcoming funding.  If, in the end, I have for come up with the $85, I'll probably do it anyway.

If I don't give marrow, or blood stem cells, or platelets, or plasma, or your basic whole blood, then I'm not saving lives. I'm not handing out blankets after a hurricane, curing cancer, feeding the hungry, ending genocide, rebuilding Iraq, bringing health care to Mayans in Guatamala, rescuing illegal aliens in the desert, or talking people out of suicide. (If you're contemplating suicide, though, please don't do it! There's got to be a better option.)  I'll say it again: this is one sure way for most people to do something quietly heroic, to actually save lives.

If the veins cooperate.


Ordinary Heroism
National Marrow Donor Program
American Red Cross
American Society for Apheresis


ryanagi said...

*pat pat pat* I am still giving you a pat on the back for making the effort! At least you tried. I have difficult veins too. I have my lucky vein (on the back of my hand) and that serves me well with a butterfly needle to get just enough blood for testing but not much else. When I was in the hospital, they threatened to put my IV in my FOOT (thus immobilizing me totally) if they couldn't locate a vein. One vampire miracle worker was finally able to locate one in the side of my wrist (not a fun spot for an IV either). Oye vey. So you can see why I am not at all motivated to try and donate blood. I did go out once to try and donate for a friend whose child needed a marrow transplant. I was disqualified because I'd had recent surgery. Hence my belief that we still get points for trying, if not succeeding. :-}

sakishler said...

Giving blood can be tricky.

The blood banks really liked my A- negative blood until it was decided that blood from people who had been in the United Kingdom for three months or more during a certain period (that, unluckily for me, includes 1996) could not be trusted.

I tried protesting that I consumed absolutely no meat when I was there ('cause I never consume meat, of course), but to no avail.

I was pretty indignant about that at the time, but upon reflection I suppose they're right to stay on the very safest of sides.

Still, it's frustrating, when you're so close to saving lives and yet so far. . .

mavarin said...

Sarah - considering all the work you do for animals, it's not fail to expect you to save human lives, too, especially considering you're disqualified from this particular philanthopy through no fault of your own.  I'm technically eligible to give blood, and despite the problems it's easier for me to do than serious volunteer work like yours.  It would be nice if we all did something for the rest of the world - but we don't all have to do the same something! - Karen

alphawoman1 said...

My Dad is like that.  The best nurse was a nurse who had worked with infants! she was great.

winivere2002 said...

Are we related? LOL... I always leave the doctor's office looking like a drug addict. I wonder why it is so hard for them to find my vein. You were brave to try this. Knowing my history when they try to test my thyroid, there is no way I would ever attempt to give blood. I take my hats off to people who can! XOXO, Win =.)

crewgoolia429 said...

I was searching on Google for "rolling veins" and I found your post. I had an experience similar to yours yesterday. I went to the Red Cross, excited to give blood. They poked me, found a vein, but it rolled and moved around. After repositioning and repositioning again ... and again, they gave up. It was comforting to read your post and know that I'm not the only one who feels terribly disappointed when giving blood doesn't work. I have to wait the full 56 days before I can try again (because they got a bit of blood out) but I'm definately going to try again.

djdstev said...

I'm fresh from the doctor's office and another multiple sticks for a blood test.  It's helped to read everyone's comments.  I end up apologizing to the nurses and vampires (actually had one guy who introduced himself that way) for being a "problem child" with rolling veins.  I haven't tried to donated blood for a year or so now but until that point they UBS did a great job of finding the vein in my left arm - it's when they tried the right that things really went down hill.  Thank you all for your comments - I now know I'm not as alone in this as I felt!