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Checking Off #48

posted Mar 14, 2014, 10:23 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 15, 2014, 8:25 AM by Knight Writer ]

Madi Endicott

        Save a life. That was number forty-eight on my bucket list. I didn't necessarily have a plan of how I would go about accomplishing this. I guess I just assumed that I would somehow find myself in the situation where someone needed CPR (which I don't actually know how to do), or I would push someone out of the way of a speeding car. I never considered donating blood. And it wasn't because I was afraid of needles like my friend Rachell, but the idea of removing my bodily fluids from their rightful home just made me uncomfortable.


        When my school's annual blood drive came around, several of my friends were planning to donate. I admired their bravery and generous hearts, but I knew my name would not join theirs on the sign-up list. I felt bad that I, the supposed “tough” girl of the group, couldn't gather enough guts to do the right thing.


        In a sudden spur-of-the-moment event and slight misunderstanding, I found my name staring at me on the sign-up sheet in blue ink. What just happened? I remember thinking after the reality of what I had done finally hit me. I was scared, utterly and deeply scared.


        After being informed by my friends of the horrors I was sure to encounter in the process of donating blood, and even losing sleep over the matter, I planned on approaching the list-holder and backing out. But as I stormed into school the next day a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt came to mind. “Do one thing that scares you everyday.” I had begun to live by that saying ever since I had decided to fill my life with adventure and it had somehow slipped my mind when this opportunity arose. I turned around in my pursuit to remove my name from the list, leaving the blue ink on that piece of paper which sentenced the blood pumping in my veins at that moment to eventually be relocated to save a life.


        I was shaking before I had even entered the school that day, partly due to the fact that it was snowing when it was supposed to be spring, but mostly because I was flat out nervous as heck.


        I sat on an icy, metal chair in the gym where the local hospital had all of their bloodsucking equipment set up in an intricate web of tubes and wires, making the place I had spent many hours sweating and practicing in nearly unrecognizable. The cold from outside stayed with me as I waited for my number to be called, or at least that was the excuse I told everyone who asked why I was shivering.


        “Seven?” Those two syllables were the beginning of the end. I followed a nurse to a small examination room where she recorded my height, weight, and other vital statistics to see if my body would still function under the circumstance that a pint of blood were to be removed. That part wasn't bad; the worst thing was the finger prick which was nothing like Elf made it out to be. Along with the standard physical tests like blood pressure and pulse (which revealed to the nurse just how anxious I was), there were a few simple, but somewhat disturbing and violating, questions I had to answer about my health.


        After about ten minutes of waiting for the results that would determine if I was able to give, while shamefully hoping that they would turn me down and I wouldn't have to be stabbed by a mile-long needle, the nurse led me over to a gray table. This is it, I thought. But before I climbed onto the table that would be my certain death I made a quick trip to the restroom to alleviate the pressure on my bladder. I considered hiding there in the bathroom stall, but couldn't stand the thought of being labeled a coward, and eventually forced myself back into the gym.


        A cheerful and friendly face greeted me when I finally boarded the gray table and laid my arm, veins exposed, on what should not be called an arm “rest” as the word implies the exact opposite of the panic it induces. She did a good job of distracting me from the preparation that was taking place at my side, but once I caught a glimpse of the tip of the needle that would soon penetrate my body I asked, in my little girl voice that only comes out when I am genuinely frightened, “Can you please hold my hand?” She quickly complied, and moments later I felt the intruder dig deep into the vein of my arm. I clenched my toes and bit my lip to stop myself from screaming inappropriate things. “Don't move!” the nurse scolded me. Sorry, I thought, in too much terror to verbalize the word.

        Goodbye, blood. I didn't watch as it parted from my body; one, because I probably would have fainted, and two, because it would have made the bitter farewell that much more heartbreaking.


        It wasn't too terrifying after the shock of the needle was behind me. I got to play with a red ball that the nurse gave me and had informed me to squeeze every five to ten seconds. This was fantastic; I fell in love with my little, squishy ball and we had a fun five minutes together until a nurse passed by, checked my blood bag, then stripped me of my precious toy. My lip began to quiver, but I had told myself before that I wasn't going to cry that day, especially not over something so childish and had nothing to do with the fact that a foreign metal object was lodged into my skin.


        My friend was talking about a sport which at the time I wasn't sure existed, when I zoned out, entranced by an orange banner on the wall in front of me. I thought for sure I was a goner until she tapped my hand and pulled my focus away from the banner and back to the real world.


        The fuller the bag became the more I wanted, needed, that needle out of my arm. I couldn't physically feel it in there, but my mind sure was aware of it. It seemed like forever (although I later found that it only took fifteen minutes) until one of the nurses came over and announced that I was done. Hallelujah! She somehow stopped the blood-flow to the bag while, to my discomfort and utter disappointment, leaving the needle in my arm. Get it out! I considered yelling at her, but I had kept my cool for that long and wasn't going to lose my sanity so close to the finish line.


        I heard a plop and made the mistake of looking down to see a bag of dark red fluid at my feet. My head became woozy and the granola bar I had for breakfast did a cartwheel in my stomach. “Just a little longer,” my friend informed me, squeezing my hand. I couldn't stop looking at the bag that contained blood that was no longer mine, that hypothetically belonged to someone else. Someone whose life I had just saved.


        The nurse continued to do all the routine stuff to finish me up and as I was contemplating why she was using a grocery scanner to do so, I felt a short sting in my arm. I snapped my head to look at her. “Is it out?” I asked.


        “Yep,” she replied. The best syllable I had heard all day. For the first time that morning, I finally relaxed.


        I had done it! Check, I thought cheesily.

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