Giving Blood

I've never donated blood to any organization before, preferring to leave it inside my body so the mosquitoes know where to find it.  The idea that there are hospitals and charities and relief organizations--really, a whole industry--dedicated to sucking blood out of people frankly makes me want to hold a cross in front of me and go to sleep wearing a necklace of garlic every night.

Oddly, I often have the same reaction to Peter Jennings.

But then an appeal from the Red Cross made me change my mind about the whole thing, because with so many demands being made on the blood supply from so many directions, they give free cookies.

I showed up at the blood donation center feeling a little nervous. My anxiety only increased when I saw the ambulance parked as a precaution near the front door and the half dozen people milling around wearing white coats.  With all these emergency medical personnel in the area, I worried they might have already run out of chocolate chip.

I don't know what I expected.  I suppose I thought that draining a person's circulatory system would be similar to changing the oil in an automobile.  But the whole thing starts with a questionnaire, wherein they gather your entire medical history. Apparently they need to be very particular about sharing blood, so that, for example, a Sagittarius only receives blood from a Sagittarius, and a narcoleptic never gets a donation from an insomniac, lest he wind up a person who is always falling asleep, but can't. The medical technician assigned to help me with the questionnaire pulled out his clipboard and regarded me professionally.  "Now, Mr. Cameron, first question: Are you feeling healthy today?"

"No, not really," I responded truthfully.

"Oh?"  He tapped his pen on the paper.  "What's wrong?"

"I've sort of been low on sugar," I told him mournfully, glancing meaningfully at the table where they kept the cookies.  "Plus I'm worried I might have something seriously wrong with my pancreas."

"Your...pancreas?  Why do you say that?" he asked.

"Well, I've had everything else tested," I explained.  "So I figure it must be the pancreas."

"Hmm...are you under the care of a doctor?"

"Oh, yes!" I informed him brightly.  "I talk to the doctor nearly every day!"

"What does he say?"

"He says not to call him so much," I replied.

"I meant about your pancreas.  Does he agree?" the technician elaborated.

"Oh, yes, of course.  Well, not totally.  Actually, no.  But it is my body, after all.  I feel like I should know what's going on with it," I affirmed.

"You can feel it?" he pressed.

"Of course!  It's right here."  I showed him where I often had pancreatic fits and spasms.

"That's actually your liver, Mr. Cameron."

"Oh."  I laughed lightly.  "Here?"

"Kidney," he responded, shaking his head.

"More here."

"That's your heart."

"Well, anyway, my doctor hasn't yet come up with a successful treatment," I continued.

"I see."  He frowned at his clipboard.

"Do you think maybe we'd be more comfortable conducting this interview at the cookie table?" I suggested.

"Okay, other than the pancreas issue, you feel fine?" he inquired hopefully.

"Oh, no.  I need to see an ear, nose and throat specialist," I advised.

"How come?"

"For my ear, nose and throat," I said simply.

"I see.  Well, we'll take your temperature in a minute, and if that's normal, we'll go ahead and answer this question 'yes'," he decided. "Is that alright with you?"

"I often run fevers that don't register on the thermometers," I warned him.

"They don't...register?" he repeated.

"The medical name for them is 'stealth fevers'," I informed the technician.  "Well, at least, that's what I call them.  My doctor is very concerned.  He has me e-mail him every time I get one, no matter what time of day or night.  I used to just call, but he says e-mail is better."

"Ah."  The technician looked a bit distressed, perhaps worried I might be contagious.

"You seem a little down," I told him.  "Would a cookie help?"

"No," he sighed resignedly.  "It's just that I suddenly realized something awful."  He raised his eyes sadly to mine.  "This is just the first question. I've got 32 more."

~ Bruce Cameron ~

[ by W. Bruce Cameron © 2005 ( -- { used with permission } ]


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