Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... read before burning

You get directions for a reason. Unfortunately, I don't always seem to understand that concept. I usually throw directions aside without as much as a glance. However, I learned the hard way that’s not always a good idea.

Last Friday, I decided to donate blood. It was my first time ever donating. I don’t like needles or seeing my blood drawn, but I set aside my dislike for the greater good.

My little brother had several blood transfusions while going through chemotherapy. Somebody had to donate all that blood. What about the other children or adults out there that needed transfusions? Somebody has to step up and donate for them too. I decided that somebody should be me, so I offered my arm and strong veins for the cause. The bloodmobile wanted 13 donors for the day. Guess who was lucky number 13?

I was extremely nervous, but overall the experience wasn’t that bad. Sure I was poked three times (once to check my iron, then to get my blood type and finally for the donation), but I had the satisfaction of knowing that my amazing O blood helped save three lives.

Before leaving, I was given a sheet with directions on what to do after donating. I stuck it in my bag and went about my business. There it would remain until tragedy struck.

Dizziness suddenly hit me four hours later while I was at work. I stumbled to the bathroom and fell on the floor. I couldn’t even lift my head up. Then I started sweating. The AC was on, but my body was drenched in it. “Lord, please don’t let my mama find out I died in the bathroom,” I thought. Diabetes runs in my family, so I concluded I was going into a diabetic coma.

I lay on the floor for about 45 minutes before trying to head back to my desk. I didn’t make it and went back to the bathroom. I contemplated crawling out and asking someone to take me to the hospital, but I wasn’t sure if my condition was that serious. “I still have stories to write, and a hospital trip might make me miss deadline,” I thought. I am a diligent reporter even in the face of death.

When I made it back to my desk, a co-worker saw all the sweat and asked what was going on. I gave him my diabetic coma theory. He asked if I had looked at the donation directions. Nope.

Apparently, you are supposed to drink plenty of fluids and eat after giving blood. I was in the middle of eating when the dizziness hit, but I had only drunk maybe two juices since donating. Reading the directions would have probably saved me some grief.

Another wave of dizziness hit, and I went back to being one with the bathroom floor. One co-worker kept checking on me until I finally came out. Then the dizziness vanished just as quickly as it appeared. I still felt loopy, but another black out didn’t seem imminent.

The moral of this story is simple: Don’t donate blood! Just kidding. I’ll donate again in December, but this time I’m drinking a 24-pack of water, eating a hearty lunch and READING the directions before tossing them.

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