Monday, August 18, 2008

They bled me to death (unedited)

I'm a fraud and chronic liar, but I really think I have donated blood and/or blood products for the last time.

I hate needles. I couldn't adminster a shot or draw blood to save my soul, and the thought of taking a needle in the arm, leg or butt has no appeal to me. (I've experienced them all!) While I hate needles, I'm also a sado-masochist, evidently. Since my senior year in high school I have found my way to blood drives, donating a pint of Fonzie's best A positive.

Ironically I have passed out twice, both while giving much smaller blood samples for pre-employment physicals for jobs working in hospital kitchens.

I'm a good candidate for donating blood because I haven't pumped my body full of heroin, had tattoos or piercings or had sex with another man, even once, since 1977.

Some years I have donated blood six times. A few years ago I took an extended hiatus from donating. I figured a guy having heart surgery might be better off not donating pints on top of all the viles he's giving up every so often.

A year or more ago I returned to Memorial Blood Centers, a local agency that conducts blood drives and collects all sorts of funky blood products at fixed-site locations, including a few in the Twin Cities. Instead of going to a blood drive at a church or house of ill repute, you go to a strip mall and bleed for them. It's like selling plasma, but without the paycheck. And by the way, call it what you want, but when you get cash for two hours at a plasma center, you aren't donating jack shit.

A few months ago they invited me to donate blood platelets rather than whole blood. You can donate platelets more often, the end result doesn't take as much out of you, physically, and the need is greater than the need for whole blood. Platelets don't have the same shelf life, evidently.

The drawback: You have to sign on for a couple of hours.

I've been through the process three times this summer. And now it's time to retire!

It's not the time commitment that bothers me. And lord knows I've been far less careless with my health and welfare than the average skank, but I've reached the breaking point.

Each time you visit, you have to go through the tedious health screening. I get it, they can't blow the process off. But I'm tired of having to answer the same questions each time I visit. I still haven't spent five years in Europe, I've still never had any of those weird diseases I've never heard of, and I still haven't had sex with another man, even once, since 1977.

I realize the answers to some of the questions may have changed since my last visit four weeks ago, but I'm tired of the hoops. I ain't jumpin' through them for a while, if ever again. I'm tempted to get a tattoo just so I can be blacklisted.

I have no personal story about how blood donations have made a difference in my life. I became a blood donor simply to face a fear I've had, and I continued to challenge myself to face that fear for 20 years. I passed my test, it's time to move on.

There are a few petty reasons that support my decision, but those aren't worth explaning. I'm a petty human being, and after more than 3 gallons of A positive and a few platelets, it's time to stop doing so much for everyone else and start doing more for me.

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