If It Wasn’t For Those Three Lives

Why do I do these things to myself?! *

After this weekend’s adventures in crazy cupboard injuries you would have thought that I would be playing it a little safer. Ah, not so!

Guess what I did this morning? Donated blood at work! Not donated blood to the lab for A1c results – but ‘real person’ donated!!


Did you know diabetics can donate? We sure can! That is unless this applies to you.

Here’s the thing…


It all started in the screening room. I aced the survey. My blood pressure is always super low – 110/60. I knew what was coming next. The dreaded hemoglobin concentration test (I thought they were testing iron until I looked up the link for this post – who knew?!).

copper sulfate screening test (aka “float test”): measures the specific gravity of the donor’s blood by placing a drop into a copper sulfate solution. The solution is calibrated so that a hemoglobin concentration of in >12.5 g/dl (the cut-off in the U.S. for donation) sinks. (from the Wiki)

So the lady gets out the lancet and I make a comment about wishing I could just use one of my own. Those single use lancets go DEEP! She asks for my middle finger which I know is going to be a tough squeeze – I can’t even use it anymore because of the calluses.

The nurse starts ‘milking’ my finger and comments about how tough it is to get the blood out. I have a thermometer in my mouth so I can’t really respond, but I manage to get out that I don’t really use that one and that the pinky would have been an easier draw. She asks if I test in the mornings. Um, yes and several other times during the day 😐

She responds – oh I think I would go nuts if I had to do that! Yup, she was one of those! Once the thermometer was out, I said “regarding testing multiple times a day, it is either that or get really sick so I think I’d rather do that and you would to.”

Never fear, my blood drop held up like a champ and I was on to the actual donation.

After the normal prep procedures the phlebotomist aims for the vein. I, of course, do not look, but I swear I felt three different attempts. The third was the longest so I thought for sure she got it in. I notice she is not taping it down thought and all of a sudden I feel a coolness spread down my elbow. I was bleeding all over the chair! What a mess! She cleaned me up the best she could, taped the needle down, and I started filling the bag.

I take a look at my arm and the needle and it was one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. You know when you get a splinter in your arm and you can see your skin raised around it. That was what the needle looked like – it looked like it was barely under my skin and I could feel it pulling!

Every so often, one of the other phlebotomists would stop by and ask how I was feeling. I never felt faint at all but I think they assumed that all the blood at the beginning would have gotten to me. I told them I felt fine and was tough!

They all kept commenting how slowly the bag was filling. I thought that was odd, because I have donated MANY times before and that has never been a problem. Finally one of them comes over, gets a good look at the needle and ADJUSTS IT IN MY VEIN!!

She yells to the other lady – “hey when it looks like that it is against the wall of the vein so you just have to turn it a little!” Oh right, let me turn a needle in your vein and see how YOU feel!

Remarkably, the bad starts filling a lot faster. For about two minutes…

When the needle turner notices that it has slowed down again she comes over and asks how I feel. I tell her that I don’t feel faint, but that my arm hurts a little. She takes a look at the site and decides now that the needle needs to be propped up. So she does just that!!

I blew a vein at dx in the ER and it did not hurt as bad as this nonsense!

When I finally finished the torture – they tried to finish wiping all the residue off my arm and wrapped it in the traditional dressing. I can tell you that the happy faces were NOT my idea!

January 23, 2008 - diabetes365 - day 107

Besides the whole saving lives thing – the only other good part of it was that I got a semi-decent T-shirt out of the deal.

front of donation shirtback of donation shirt

*I have never prided myself on my grammar and it may actually be “If it weren’t for those three lives”. Please don’t let that detract from the story! 😉


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