In Which I Talk At Great Length About Blood

I donated blood the other day. Right now I’m turning my shoulder so you can pat me on the back through time and space. They have a blood drive every couple months at work which makes it very convenient. Needles and blood don’t bother me and I actually kind of like donating blood. Is that weird? Perhaps it’s the free gifts. I’ve never met a free gift I didn’t like.  So far I’ve collected a first aid kit, jumper cables and a captain’s chair. Perhaps it’s because it’s an hour off work.  Perhaps it’s because it’s an excuse to gorge myself on sugar. “Self, you need that Babyruth. You’re donating blood!…Self, just finish all 6 Oreos in the package they gave  you. You just donated blood!”

The most important reason is a little more personal. A cousin of mine was recently diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. He’s only a couple months into his treatment and he’s already received a great deal of blood. He wouldn’t have made it this far without it. It’s frustrating to have so little you can do to help in situations like these. Bringing over dinner, listening and cracking jokes is about the best I’ve come up with. And while my cousin isn’t getting my blood, it’s nice to know that someone took the time to give theirs to him and that someone else who needs mine will be getting it as well.

I remember when I donated blood after September 11th. That was the thing to do in the weeks proceeding the attacks on the Twin Towers.  We were all looking for something, something to do to feel like we were helping in some miniscule, fleeting way. And that thing turned out to be donating blood.

I went with my roommate at the time, Hassan. We had been good friends in college and were both starting grad school at Northwestern that week, he for theater and I for classical voice. He had just flown back from Kuwait on a one way ticket and had just gotten a cell phone, that we both had to use for a couple weeks, on September 10th.  We answered the phone in those following weeks with, “Hi! And make sure to say, ‘Hi’ to the FBI!”.

Class was canceled for a few days and we decided to go into Chicago and donate blood. Hassan was a bit anxious as I’m sure many Arab men were in the days following 9/11. The office was jam packed.  After about an hour we were called, first myself and then Hassan. Now, let me just pause to reflect on how easy it is to pronounce Hassan – HAH-SAHN – two syllables, the same vowel. This is 1st grade phonics, people. But the name they called after mine wasn’t Hassan it was……wait for it……”HUSSEIN?? HUSSEIN??”

The conversations came to an abrupt halt, all eyes on poor Hassan. “It’s HASSAN. NOT HUSSEIN!!!” he yelled so all could here. But the damage was done. He was Hussein. Thank goodness the name has since been redeemed by one American President.

I know this sounds strange but I’m quite fond of my blood type, B negative. Any other B negs in the hiz?? Roughly 2% of the world population is B negative. We are an exclusive club trumped only by the AB negatives at 1%.

I’ve learned some interesting things about my blood type through the book ‘Eat Right for your Type’. First of all, they suggest I eat lean red meat, and dairy is fine as is caffeine and alcohol. That sounds easy. But what I like the most is that my blood type is descended from hunter gatherers and is found mostly in people of African and Asian decent. Ha! I’m nearly the whitest person I know! I love this because it is so not me. My prissy, dainty hands and feet (in fact, I’ve never met anyone with smaller thumbs than myself, and yes, I ask people to compare) would lead one to believe that I am descended from from some delicate ladies who spent their days lounging around their drawing rooms, reading and gossiping as in an Austen novel. Snooze!! I’d much prefer to have the blood of a hunter gatherer coursing through my veins.

Anywho, I had no idea I had this much to say about blood. And folks, I’m not telling you to go out and donate blood. I’m just telling you that if you do, don’t pay any attention to that “Don’t drink any alcohol today” bit. You can definitely have three glasses of wine later that night and still operate respectably. Trust me. *

* Don’t trust me.


3 thoughts on “In Which I Talk At Great Length About Blood

  1. ah, the memory of that day. though, they were handing out chipotle burritos to the blood donors at that blood drive. that burrito quickly made my wounds heal.

  2. Have you donated blood since? I remember I donated blood in 2004, when I was 20, about two weeks before I went to China for the first time ever in my life, to study for a semester. Anyway, that was one of the most memorable, if not best, experiences of my life: I donated blood with my father, but for some reason on that day I decided “Oh I don’t REALLY need to eat breakfast.” Turns out, that’s a big mistake! I completely passed out after donating blood, while sipping my juice box and eating my Famous Amos they gave me after I finished donating. Two large male orderlies had to carry me onto a cot, and after maybe 30 seconds or so (I’m told), I came around. My dad was concerned. The thing is, passing out was awesome. It was so restful and so relaxing. I didn’t want to wake up! But the problem was that I had had to pee since before I started the whole donation process, and well, that problem was solved for me involuntarily by the time I woke up. I realized I peed myself, and whispered that to my dad, and he said, very loudly, “WHAT? YOU SPILLED WATER ALL OVER YOURSELF?” “Don’t even try, Dad! Everyone will know!” So eventually I got up off the cot, and finished my cookies and juice, and Dad and I left, and I’m sure everyone knew and could see the spot on the cot, but everyone was nice enough not to say anything.

    I have an appointment to donate day after tomorrow, my first time since that wonderful day in 2004, and I’m really looking forward to it! I don’t mind passing out, in fact, that would be quite welcome, but I will be peeing beforehand so I don’t have a reprise of wetting myself. Fun times at the Red Cross!

    Oh and by the way, I am really enjoying your blog. More comments to come when I read through all the China section!


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