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If It Wasn’t For Those Three Lives

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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! 😉


14 responses

  1. Awww, I love donating, but I’m sorry you had such a bad experience 😦

    Regarding the hemoglobin test. Most people think it tests for iron because it’s a common thought that low iron levels are anemia. Anemia actually means low hemoglobin levels, but hemoglobin is made up of iron, so low iron levels can cause anemia, but many other things do too.

  2. I hate blood draws! I am the worst, queasiest, most freaked out patient ever. Just saying… I feel for you!

  3. I can’t donate because of Valley Fever, but I wouldn’t donate there! What the heck!

    Sweet shirt, though.

  4. It sounded like they had an amateur trying to draw your blood. I hate it when I am a guinea pig.

    Good for you for donating though

    You need to add something to the back of that shirt….

    “I’m Type 1”

  5. From someone that’s needed it in the past and isn’t allow to give back, thanks for donating!

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  7. I guess next time donate somewhere other than work. That’s a really cool shirt though.

  8. I couldn’t even read all of this, I started feeling sick at the “bleeding all over the chair” bit. I would have wanted more than a t-shirt out of the deal!

  9. What an adventure! So will your arm be bruised from all the torture? It almost made mine bruise just thinking about it. Ouch! Did the blood get on your clothes, too?

    But, seriously, thank you so much for donating. You are a life saver – really.

  10. I can’t donate blood because I lived in England and they’re afraid I might be a mad cow. Going by your experience, though, I think I’m kind of glad. Ouch!

  11. I’m like Jillian.
    I was feeling queezy a couple lines into this story.
    I’ve donated blood once. It wasn’t so horrible. But THINKING about doing it gives me the heebies.
    Good for you for sharing your life-giving liquid!

  12. I donate blood too. Thankfully it’s never been quite as messy as what you’ve described!

    Apparently I have ‘slow’ blood and often have to pump my fist open and closed to encourage it. I’m usually laying there for ages compared to others.

  13. Yowch! I’m still cringing from that one. Good for you for donating – I should, but somehow after reading this I don’t want to…

    There are a lot of Saras around the OC! I don’t get around as often as I should – so sorry if I stole your name in Kerri’s comments 🙂 Nice blog!

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