Saturday, July 3, 2010
A Worthwhile Prick
I have a rather overwhelming fear of needles. It’s an anticipation thing, and a pain thing, and ultimately an ick thing. I got so worked up when I last went to get a tetanus shot the doctor had to hand me a toy she normally gave 6 year olds and ask me to press the buttons to distract me. I know I’m not made for life or death situations, for high-powered decisions, or very possibly for the experience of giving birth, because if I was I think I would have gotten over the needle thing by now.
When I was at high school a friend once asked me whether I donated blood and I laughed at the absurd concept. Even writing that feels rather selfish, and I can’t help but judge teenaged me a tiny bit.
My father has recently become intimate with the joy of blood transfusions. He doesn’t sit in a hospital for hours getting a foreign substance pumped into his veins for the fun of it – he does it so he can lead a normal life and continue to be the awesome, quietly intellectual, utterly generous dad that I know and love.
I’m that special brand of stupid that required a physical example to snap me out of my selfish streak. The fact that my dad’s health and quality of life has been assured by the assistance of random, anonymous strangers who owed him absolutely nothing had me staring into space for an hour (sorry new employers, that was on your dime).
I decided to suck it up, get over the ick and sign on to donate blood. I was so chuffed with myself I rang my father straight after booking and told him I was doing it. He said he thought that was a nice idea, especially as he’d recently had to stop after giving his own blood for years.
Everyone at the blood bank was so chilled out about what they were doing. I may have thrown them a little when I sprinted through the front door and nearly knocked someone over as I scrambled to the bathroom. In my nervousness in the lead-up that morning I had taken their advice to stay hydrated a little too seriously, so much so that as the woman slid the needle into my skin she muttered under her breath “Wow, you really are hydrated”. It should also be noted that my blood spatter/CSI/vampire/Twilight gags all fell flat on the day.
And then, after 10 minutes of staring pointedly at anything but my arm, it was done. People that say “It doesn’t hurt” are benevolent liars – it does, but not enough to justify not doing it.
As I exited the staff even whipped me up a chocolate milkshake, and I couldn’t help but wonder if in the blood-milkshake exchange, I had got the better end of the deal. And there’s the fact that I also got my father, so with the dad-milkshake double, it hardly feels like I gave them anything in return at all.