the gift of life  

rm_bucfannn 61M/60F
1805 posts
9/7/2006 10:02 pm

Last Read:
9/29/2006 8:55 am

the gift of life

Sometimes, working in the medical field has it's disadvantages. You know, the "knowledge is not always a good thing" deal. And, since I draw blood, (a phlebotomist), I know needles. Intimately. And, that includes sizes of needles. The higher the number, the smaller the gauge. For instance, a typical butterfly needle is a 23g. We use that size on kids, (infants included), or on small adult veins, (including hand veins). That's the size I like to be stuck with.

OK. I'll be honest here. I may give needles for a living, but, I DO NOT like getting them myself. As in, I HATE having to have a blood test. Yea, I suppose that could be construed as being hypocritical, but, truly, I am pretty much a pain free needle giver. Only because I know what it's like to be hurt by an idiot. I'm gentle and compassionate in doing my job.

With that said, I have NEVER donated blood. Not because of the thought of it. Uh no. But, because of the size of the needle. Quit laughing and bear with me here. When donating blood, if the bag, (which equals a UNIT), doesn't fill within 15 minutes, no matter how much is taken, they have to stop and remove the needle. It takes 15 minutes for the blood to coagulate in the tubing, and it won't flow. Normally, to fill a unit is right around 5 minutes or so... 8-10 is the norm. So, in order to donate almost a pint, (a UNIT), it has to flow rather quickly. Which means, the needle has to be kinda big.

Kinda big is NOT an exaggeration, believe me. Donation needles are 16g. Yes, SIXTEEN GAUGE. A fricking horse needle. Normal blood draws in a doctors office are done with a 21g or 22g. Small potatoes compared to a donation needle.

I realize that being scared is a piss-poor reason not to donate. But, sorry, I admitted above I am a chicken-shit-baby. Knowledge is not always a good thing. Because I have been in the "blood biz" for sixteen years, I do know my stuff... and, I knew that getting a 16g needle jammed into my antecubital, (the bend in the arm), was going to fricking HURT. And trust me on this... I am NOT one to voluntarily allow someone to hurt me.

The lab manager is always in charge of the blood drives at the hospital. And since I have been employed at the hospital, EVERY SINGLE TIME there is a blood drive, she annoys me about donating. Well, for the past couple of years, I've always had a great excuse. TATTOOS. Yup, tattoos. If you've had a tat, you cannot donate for a year. So, I lucked out. But, my excuse ran out. Last tat I got was last June. Sigh. However, I did get my navel pierced almost four weeks ago. Surely, I couldn't donate.

Guess what? If you had your piercing done at a licensed shop, with a one-use needle, it's ok to donate.

Who woulda thunk?

Damn. I was stuck. No more excuses.

Alrighty then. How hard was this going to be? I steeled myself up for the whole thing. Until, I found out they checked the hematocrit. (meaning: The ratio of the volume occupied by packed red blood cells to the volume of the whole blood as measured by a hematocrit.) With a FUCKING FINGER STICK. Holy shit. A finger stick. THOSE HURT! ARRRRRRGH.

I could feel my heart start racing. I started feeling diaphoretic. Cripes almighty. Over a damn finger stick. Now, I also have to add, my co-workers were laughing at me. That felt good. Yes indeedy it did. The creeps.

FINE. I'll do it. I'll get that damn fingerstick. I'll get that damn 16g needle jammed in my arm. I won't wimp out.


I made the lab manager go with me. Yeah, I needed a babysitter. So sue me. I just didn't want to be down there with strangers in case I screamed or cried or did something equally as stooooopid.

By the way... the fingerstick HURT. Yes it did. And, when I saw the needle that was about to be jammed into my arm, I almost bolted. The damn thing was HUGE. I told the tech to hurry up and do it, or all he was gonna see of me was a blur.

After all was said and done, it wasn't so bad. I'm not saying it didn't hurt, but, it wasn't awful. My UNIT filled in about six minutes. I got rice krispies treats and a coke. And a few other goodies.

And, you want to know what? My blood is going to save three lives. THREE. Also, I'm a universal donor. My blood type is 0 negative. ANYONE can get my blood. Makes me feel pretty good. I'm helping. In a small way.

And, the beginning of November, I'm gonna do it again. I know I'll be nervous, but, it matters not...

A little discomfort is a small price to pay to save a life, (or 3).

rm_jami95 66M
69 posts
9/7/2006 11:47 pm

LOLOLOL . . . Knowing you, I know you would have rather jumped off a bridge .... gee maybe I'll work up the courage to do it some day (don't hold your breath, I am a bigger woos than you) . . . . .

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/8/2006 9:35 am:
Heh, you're right. But, as I said, I'm gonna do it again. And again.

Maybe I'm outgrowing my "wussiness"

simlpyfun68 48F
1173 posts
9/8/2006 12:31 am

You survived a 16 gauge in your arm this week so maybe you can go with me for my next piercing. You can get a slightly smaller 18 gauge in each nipple, it might not save lives could make it a little more interesting. I will even buy you a coke and make a batch of rice krispy treats for good measure.

Hugz n Smiles

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/8/2006 9:36 am:
Uhhhhhh... my nipples stay the way they are now - unadorned

And to watch your next piercing? I'd probably faint dead away... course, I'll watch the video

tut1117 72M  
452 posts
9/8/2006 3:33 am

bucfannn, I am so proud of you. I knew you were a good soul before, but now I will put up on the on the top of the people I admire.

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/8/2006 9:38 am:
Thank you, Tut. I feel pretty good about it all, but, I have this giant hole in my arm now...

fantasylover_05 62M

9/8/2006 5:07 am

I am proud of you my Dear Bucfann!!

I too have never given blood.... but as you know I had cancer and received chemotherapy and have been told that excludes me from being a donor....

I have been stuck by sooo many needles (years ago) and I have a VERY high tollerance for pain.... so it would be no problem for me...

(I must also say... it does my heart good to see that "C" next to your handle... I am sooo happy for you!!)

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/8/2006 9:40 am:
R... This hasn't made me any less afraid of needles, but, with the shortage of blood in the Tampa Bay area, it was worth my almost panic attack to do what I did. Will I still be afraid? You bet.

(and, I am so happy for YOU!)

rm_MisterFrumpy 46M
428 posts
9/8/2006 7:28 am

dont feel bad about your excuses. i never gave blood and i dont have an excuse other than 'i like my blood right where it is!'

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/8/2006 9:42 am:
Well, now my blood is going to be in someone else. That's pretty cool, ya know?

And, no mistake, Frump... I'm still the biggest wimp I know. I'll keep getting scared and try to make excuses, but, I'm gonna do it again... yes indeed

Xeryien 51M
1445 posts
9/8/2006 8:11 am

I am with you in the chicken-shit scared of needles category... I have been stuck tons of times - some good, most horrible.

About two years ago - I was sent to one of those Quest places - as I walked in, I noticed a comfy little room with a couch and coffee table, and I asked what it was.. "Oh, thats where we put people who, um, don't feel 'well' after a blood draw" I was told. "Whoosies." I told her.

So she inserts (according to your measurements) a 2 Gage needle (Yes, it was basically a sharpened 4" PVC pipe) into my antecubital. (Okay - it just looked like a 2 gage needle and who'd a thunk I would ever know I had an "antecubital"?)

And.... Nothing.

WTF?! I don't bleed now? OMG - get it OUT! I know there was blood in there the last time you guys stuck me with a PVC pipe! HOLY SHIT!

"I'm sorry sir, I guess I will have to try the other arm"

"Um.... ok..." I say. For some reason, someone in the office decided to turn the lights down just a bit. But why is the glare from outside getting brighter?

"Ready sir? This shouldn't hurt"

SHOULDN'T? What do you mean shouldn't?!?!!? Give me that damn pipe and you sit down! Let me try it on you! There damn well better be some blood in that arm - I can see its pink and I know that means there is something in there! find it - find it FAST! Why is everything getting fuzzy in this office?

"There we go, now let me fill us the rest of these vials and we'll be done"

Pretty... Shiny Vials.... Hundreds of them..... (Okay, three) Blood... Vials.... Red....

"There we go, all done. Hold this here" Okay... "Sir? Are you feeling alright?" Mmmmpf.

"Sir?... Sir? Maybe we should sit you down on this couch..."

Oh goodie. The whoosie room.. "Good idea. I think I am going to hang out for a minute...."

Yep, I love needles.
Oh yeah - my doctor wrote me up for some more blood tests about nine months ago... Seems I lost the sheet she gave me.. Anyone seen it?

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/9/2006 8:33 am:

OK, I shouldn't laugh. But, I know of what you speak. I would have LOVED to have been there to see the look on your face when they missed you the first time... esp if you have good veins.

Giving blood has NEVER been my favorite thing to do... EVER. And, it never will be...

a 2g, huh? Well, sometimes thats what it feels like

Xeryien 51M
1445 posts
9/8/2006 8:12 am

Oh - PS - Yes, I gave blood - once. In high school (Tells you how long ago THAT was!) 15 minutes? I swear I was there for 30...

I tell you - my blood doesn't like leaving my body!

HeardLankaMalls 55M
2925 posts
9/8/2006 8:28 am

Congrats's not easy facing your fears, but it sounds like you did well

Hugs, C

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/8/2006 9:43 am:
Thanks, luv

Gee, in the last couple of months I've ridden a huge scary coaster, and now given blood. Hmmmmmmm... wonder what's next?

AtomicArtist0 45M
6015 posts
9/8/2006 12:52 pm

oh boy...sorry to say but this post made me queezy. I guess it means no medical profession for me. my blood is mostly thick country gravy anyway.

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/9/2006 8:39 am:
Queasy? You?

Hmmmm... serves you right for what you wrote for my horoscope then

somethingelse40 74M
14676 posts
9/9/2006 4:47 pm

Now taking nominations for a feelthy cranium and/or an early Halloween …

Sometimes I feel for no reason, but thinking of you gives me plenty of reasons.

If 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts what a party we'd have!

oldude1946 70M

9/10/2006 10:55 am

Don't stick me with no fucking needle or I'll send you one of them humpy thingy

To tell the truth I gave blood a lot of times untill I came back from Vietnam

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/29/2006 8:14 am:
I would NEVER stick you with a long needle dear. Besides, you know how I feel about those damn humpy things

nikid_64 52F

9/13/2006 6:32 am

I'm so proud of you, I give blood every time I'm eligible. I'm also registered with the bone marrow program and have given platelets (which I stopped due to feeling bad for days afterward) my blood is +O so they always want mine. Yes it hurts and growing up in the military they use to give us shots all the time, use to have to tie my shoe laces together and drag me down the hallway to get mine...LOL The only time I didn't give was like you when I had just gotten a tattoo, and I love more but I'm worried someone will need my blood...Oh yeah and a organ donor too!


rm_bucfannn replies on 9/29/2006 8:09 am:

I'm also an organ donor, and to tell you the truth, this blood letting thing wasn't so bad. Yeah, I'll be shaking again come Nov, but, I'm doing it.

Also, I'm looking into the Body Farm in VA. They can have me when I'm gone. If it helps others to learn, why not?

runzwithknives 59F

9/29/2006 4:30 am

Just ran across this. Nice post.
Yup, fingersticks hurt like hell and I'm glad mine comes out of my arm for the testing. ONe for testing and the other for a full unit. Hell, the baked goods are worth it, lmoa.
If I could donate I would. I am also a universal donor. My monthly draws are theraputic tho. And then they throw it all away.
Now you know how much good technique really means!!!
Good for you for finally donating. Keep it up. Hugs, Rosa.

rm_bucfannn replies on 9/29/2006 8:13 am:
Hi Rosa. Nice to see you again

Yea, I've done theraputic phlebotomy before. I always thought it was odd they couldn't use the red/platelets for SOMETHING, instead of throwing it away. I'm sorry you have to go through that monthly...

You bet technique is important. That's why sometimes having a little bit of knowledge isn't always a good thing

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