Monday, November 25, 2013

Bloody Vampires

I meant to write this post a week and a half ago. Do you ever find that writing about something so long after it happened makes it far less potent? It's like there's this window of time where you have to capitalize on an experience by blogging, and if you miss it, it's like it never happened. But seeing as I have made a semi-commitment to blog again (mostly because I forgot that I had made $22 by blogging over the past three+ years and if I earn another $88, I'll actually get a check for that money), I'm going to write about a slightly stale topic: blood. Specifically, the donation of blood.

Just in case you don't know what giving blood looks like.

I gave blood a while back and while lying flat on my back, squeezing a rubber ball, and trying to distract myself from the needle stuck in my arm, I started making a list. These are all the reasons why giving blood makes you a better person and why everyone who is physically and emotionally capable of giving blood should do it on the regular:

  • I was not born with God-given altruism. I'm a very lazy and selfish person, not to mention unwilling to depart with any money that does not immediately benefit myself in some way. This means that I do not give to charities (Planned Parenthood would be the one exception, God bless them). I do not serve food at homeless shelters. I very rarely recycle, unless it is convenient. I imagine that I am like millions of other lazy, selfish Americans out there. Giving blood costs you nothing, takes up very little time, and extremely little effort. You get to be charitable and help people, by doing what your body does anyway: manufacture blood cells. (I applied this same philosophy when I couldn't be bothered to cut my hair for over two years and ended up donating it to Locks of Love. Literally, the least I could do and still help people. Though for some reason, it creeps me out that someone is walking around with my hair on their head. Blood isn't as weird like that, since you can't see it. Hopefully.)
Who doesn't love a free T-shirt? This one is especially cute.
  • You get FREE STUFF!!! I'm not just talking about the free juice, cookies, cheez-its, trail mix, and all the bottled water you can drink. I'm talking about T-shirts, free coupons for Coldstone or Baskin Robbins, free or majorly discounted tickets to sporting events like the Kings, the Clippers, the Galaxy, also free Laugh Factory tickets (which I have yet to take advantage of. Anyone want to go with me? Two drink minimum, but still, score!)
A cross between a cornucopia & a smorgasbord.
Although, don't be too greedy.
People will judge you.
  • One donation, which only takes about an hour total, could save up to three lives. Seriously. The American Red Cross sent me an e-mail not long ago to let me know that one pint of my blood was sent off to three different people at a hospital in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. I used to live right by there. Those people could have been my former neighbors. Knowing exactly where it ended up, made the gesture a lot more tangible for me. It was also kind of weird. But still, cool.
Pictured: My blood (right), Your blood (left)
  • My ego gets stroked whenever the Red Cross hounds me with phone calls to set up my next appointment. They are ridiculously good salespeople, also possibly vampires. They know how to be persistent, overcome objections, attempt to have you refer more donors, and use many more methods I learned in my sales training classes. They like to remind me too that my O Positive blood type is Regina George popular. Everyone wants a piece of me. I'm like, really good at giving blood too. Great blood pressure, ideal hemoglobin & iron levels, easy-to-locate veins, no squeamishness or nausea around needles, plus I'm awesome and nurses love me. So even though you may only have Gretchen Weiner-level popular blood, or faint at the sight of needles, you are still important. Just not as important as me (according to the Red Cross).
A person who avoids exercise does NOT look like this, Google. Fail.
  • Giving blood provides you with one solid-gold built-in excuse NOT to exercise. Frankly, I'll let myself get away with a lot less valid reasons. But when a medical professional tells you in no uncertain terms that you are to take it easy for at least 24 hours (which for me often stretches into 48, to be on the safe side), you are just following orders by laying around, and eating your free Baskin Robbins. A reason to be lazy and actually feel good about avoiding the gym? Yes, please.
  • Since I obsessively google the health benefits of everything, I discovered that it is actually healthy to give blood. People who are regular donors have a much lower risk of heart attack and stroke. It gets rid of excess iron and subsequently free radicals in the body. My family has a history of cardiovascular disease, so this is definitely a good thing.
My actual arm with my actual bandage. Sexy, no?
  • I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I feel like I get a fairly decent buzz from giving blood. It's a bit like having a few cocktails, only without the hangover. I just get super loopy and everything is hilarious when you're lightheaded and woozy. And again, it's FREE! I wouldn't recommend actually drinking alcohol after giving blood though…
I realize that there are a lot of people who are not able to give blood for a variety of reasons. Some of which are somewhat outdated and not necessarily based on the most current scientific research. Some people are just petrified of needles. Though no one is especially fond of needles, except I imagine heroine junkies, I recommend looking away and thinking about things that make you happy while they're sticking it to you (tee hee). Like me with lists. Some people just can't, like a dear friend of mine who actually works for the Red Cross, that tries valiantly almost every time they have a blood drive, but is usually denied due to anemia. But she keeps at it, god bless her!

I couldn't find a picture of the Coke bottle blood donation scene.
So here's a picture of sexy circa 2001 menfolk.
Yes, it was a silly movie in a lot of ways,
but 13 year old Hutch was not complaining.

It's a trip to look down and see your life force pouring out of you while Luther Vandross's "Dance with My Father," plays in the background. Kind of makes me think of that scene in the not-so-seminal classic, "Pearl Harbor," when Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett donate blood into coke bottles. Yick. But again, focus on the good stuff: you're helping people, while being sufficiently compensated with free cookies and comedy and sports, while feeling good about yourself and getting an excuse to be lazy and silly. Not that I need an excuse.

I saw some cute clothes at H&M that I probably would have
purchased after using the restroom, if they would have let me.
In the words of Julia Roberts, "Big mistake."

Pro tips: drink plenty of water, have a good breakfast, and make sure you locate the nearest bathroom ahead of time because after all that water they make you drink, you will have to pee like a mofo. And woozily wandering around Old Town Pasadena with a bandage on your arm trying to find a store that will let you pee without being a customer makes you feel like you're in a very bizarre version of "Pretty Woman." True story.

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