This morning I gave blood. I am ridiculously conscientious about my blood donation; I am there like clockwork every 56 days. I figure my blood is more useful to other people than it is to me: I have a lot of it and I can make more. Plus: free cookies and juice and funny retired people to talk to.

But the last bunch of times I’ve given blood I’ve had problems with sludginess. Poor plasmatic viscosity. My blood loves me so much it doesn’t want to come out. I’ve made sure I’m well-hydrated; I’ve given blood under the influence of aspirin and not; my iron is good; I wear warm clothes. I’m not quite sure what the problem is.

What usually happens is that they stick me, I start to bleed into the bag, and then a little later the blood people come over and say “Hmmmm.” Sometimes the machines will be blinking little red lights that tell them that I am a Bad Bleeder; other times they can just tell. They scold me for not squeezing. I am squeezing, I insist. They arrange the tubing. The blinky lights continue red. And then they decide that something is wrong with the needle.

I should point out here that I have HUGE VEINS. I’ve talked about it before. I have veins that make the blood people go “wow, that’s a really big vein.” The problem is not the vein nor the needle. The problem is that I apparently have cherry jello for blood. I am actually stretch armstrong. (note: this is a joke only about four of you in the entire world will get).

But no, the blood people have to play with the needle. At first its just a little wiggle; maybe the needle is pressed up against the side of the vein. They just have to move it a little. But that doesn’t work. Maybe its in a bad spot. Wiggle wiggle. Maybe its not in far enough. No, that’s not it. Wiggle wiggle jiggle ream ream jab jab, oops sorry did that hurt?

Eventually after many painful needle manipulations they find some position in which they can get blood out of me in less than an hour, which usually involves propping the needle up at a right angle to my arm with a lot of rolled up gauze. Meanwhile my arm is going numb and four or five speed donators have come through the room and had their cookies and juice and moved on with their lives.

Maybe I just have extra-concentrated blood and they can add water and get twice as much normal blood out of it. Dilute! Dilute! OK!

Today, thanks to my frozen orange juice blood and the exertions of the sadistic whiteshirt who was convinced that surely the needle must be in there wrong, here let me try THIS position, I have the most enormous purple bruise on my arm yet. It looks like I’ve been chewed on from the inside. Altruism looks kind of like a big purple whale.

(here is an an explanation of the stretch armstrong joke)

4 thoughts on “bleed

  1. They seem to be selling Stretch Armstrong now in the guise of Mr. Fantastic. It’s really odd because it is odd to see Reed so … um … husky in the relaxed mode.

    You totally rock for giving blood. I used to be really into the 56 day thing (before I moved back to New York where the Red Cross staff was conscientious about giving me a hematoma and asking me personal questions that they didn’t seem to want the answers to). My tip for speed donations is rolling the little thing that they put in your hand instead of squeezing it. Seems to increase flow and decrease bruising. Doesn’t help you, I’m sure, but I like the sound of my own voice.

  2. I have this same problem, complete with them wiggling the needle until I just want to scream. Hydrating to excess helps some, but maybe all the steak I eat has just turned my blood to sludge.

  3. Have you been tested for hypercoagulation?
    It’s a problem with the fibrin chain and can lead to more serious problems but you can take this drug heprin for it. We though I have that but turns out I don’t.
    Bad circulation is another sign of it.

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