A Vein Attempt

I was in my 30’s before it dawned on me that whatever punk kid told me I could get lead poisoning if I was stabbed by a pencil was lying. Lest you think I’m a total idiot, it’s not that I lived constantly with the fear of pencil injuries. It’s just that someone put that idea into my head when I was a child, I packed it away in the back of my mind, and then I never had occasion to revisit it. When I remembered that tidbit as an adult, of course I knew it was ridiculous but it was still embarrassing that it took so long.

Twenty years ago, I got an eye infection and went to the doctor who told me it was from my contact lenses. He said I should never wear contacts again. So I didn’t. Then three years ago, I thought I might give them a try and guess what? I’ve been just fine. No infections, no residual damage from the previous infection. Maybe I should’ve gotten a second opinion.

When I was seventeen, I tried to give blood at the school blood drive. After a while, the phlebotomist told me I’d been sitting there twice as long as everyone else and had only filled half of a bag. She said I should never try to give blood again. So I didn’t. But in the last few years I’ve wondered if maybe she was wrong. Why was I just taking her word for it?

Every time there’s a blood drive, I feel like a useless human being. Some people get to say, “I wish I could, but I just don’t weigh enough,” or “If only I didn’t spend all those years living in Europe, I could give blood.” #humblebrag I’m sure they’re just as frustrated that they can’t give blood, but at least they have valid excuses. Mine is that I have a lazy circulatory system? That even my blood flow is humdrum? Not acceptable. I decided to give it another shot. (Oh, look, a pun!)

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Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve tried many new things I swore I’d never do and it’s been entertaining and educational for me. But even more satisfying are the times I’ve done something I always meant to get around to trying but hadn’t because it involved getting past the first step in the process.

Am I the only one who does this? I put something off because it seems too complicated but once I start Step 1, it’s easy to follow through and finish. Usually Step 1 is much more simple than I think and I often end up wondering why I procrastinated in the first place. My post on our week without cars pushed us to do a few things we always meant to get around to doing and now my husband does the bike/bus thing at least three times a week. It was something he always wanted to try but just needed to get past the initial hurdle.

I decided to tackle the first step of my blood donation do-over by calling the Red Cross to ask about my specific problem and to see if it was possible for me to be a donor. It took me less than five minutes to look up the number, complete the phone call and then schedule an appointment online. Less than five minutes! That’s a pretty easy first step.

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Then I went to the donation center after drinking five times the recommended amount of water (16 oz. for every time the guy on the phone repeated his advice to drink lots of water). I wasn’t sure whether I’d be turned away right away or if I’d be stuck there for hours while they waited for me to drain slowly. When I got there, I read the information packet, answered the questions, squeezed the squishy ball, filled the bag with my blood in record time (well, my personal record, anyway), ate my snack, and was done in less than an hour. Not difficult. Why did I wait so long to do this?

And since I was on a getting-things-done kick, my husband and I spent the next two hours replacing bad tires on one car, getting an oil change in another, and replacing some kitchen stuff that’s been bugging us for months. We counted it as our date for the week. And then we bought these creepy birds for Halloween decorations. I’m not sure why – I’d blame it on delirium from blood loss, but what excuse does my husband have?

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