Can’t get blood from a turnip, but they got a whole bag full from me

My oldest daughter approached me with a simple request: Her twins were being asked to bring someone to their school to donate blood. You want to do something for your grandkids. After all, they’re your … wait for it …

Blood relatives.

Blood relatives! Hey, the dog thought it was funny.

There was a short period of time, a few nanoseconds, in which my mind wound up to deliver a powerful, definitive, final, “hell no”. Scream it. I’ve always had an issue with needles, which abated some over the years as I got used to allergy shots and annual blood draws. But the needle they use for an allergy shot is like, say, a BB Gun. My brother shot me with a BB gun once; it left a welt on my cheek (no, not that cheek), close enough that it could have put an eye out, but otherwise harmless.

The needle they use for blood donations is closer to Dirty Harry size.

“Go ahead: Open a vein.”

But in the short amount of time I spent winding up to scream “No!” the way teenagers used to scream at the Beatles, I heard a voice. It said, “Sure, okay.” It was squeaky and shaky, but it was me.

It’s not the first time I ever spoke before I thought. There was the time I agreed to a BB gun fight with my brother, for instance.

Worse, it’s notoriously hard to get a needle stick into my tiny veins. I suppose they shrivel in fear when they see the needle approach, just as I do. But I made a blood promise, literally, so I showed up to talk to the Red Cross people.

“Hey, you can’t draw blood from people who are taking allergy and acid reflux medicine, can you?”

“Sure we can, no problem.”

“Oh, right good. But what if professional nurses have actually taken early retirement because they couldn’t find my veins?”

“Not to worry, we deal with that all the time.”

“Yeah, but, if somebody faints …”

“You’ll be laying down, it’s okay.”

“Oh, cool. What if I ran for my life?”

“No problem, I was a defensive tackle in college.”

Long story short, I sucked it up while getting my blood sucked out. The whole process only took about half an hour, of which twenty minutes was paperwork and ten actual sucking. The biggest shock to me is that they found my vein on the first stick; this is so remarkable I’m thinking of hiring them to do all my future blood draws, even the ones with the BB gun needles.

Smiling through my pain.

And no cost. Well, none to me: I had the good fortune of feeling a little lightheaded when it was all over, so I got three cans of juice and a bag of cookies out of the deal. I also got Red Cross blankets for the grand-kids, which is great, but I think it’s their turn to give blood next time. I mean, they’re almost ten.

Now that I’ve done it, I have to say, I understand people who make multiple blood donations. There’s a certain satisfaction in giving when it’s done, the idea that you’ve contributed in some small way.

Just the same, it would be nice if they could come up with some other extraction technique. Maybe something similar to squeezing it out, like from a sponge. Or collecting it from a BB gun wound.

Maybe I’ll try that on my brother.

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