Thursday, May 17, 2012

If You Want Blood, You Got It

We had an event at work today where in honor of the upcoming Preakness Stakes, we were allowed to wear jeans and were encouraged to wear black, yellow and red, as a reflection of the colors in the Maryland flag.  If you’ve never seen the Maryland flag, it’s pretty trippy.
The red and white part signify puzzle pieces that don’t fit together (like the Ravens) and the black and gold part signifies how the Steelers are so far inside the Ravens’ heads, they actually have it on the flag.*

I couldn’t believe my good fortune!  They’re actually encouraging ME to wear black and gold?  I only have, like 75-THOUSAND black and gold Steelers shirts to choose from.  So since it was a beautiful, sunny spring day, I chose my sunniest, flaming-yellowest Steelers polo shirt, with black and white stripes on the shoulder.

My only lack was something red, so I opted to wear a Pirates hat that had a black cap and red bill.  That would be good for coming and going, but wouldn’t be very helpful during the day.  We're not supposed to wear hats in the building because my company has a policy against looking like a punk at work.

But I also knew that I was slated to donate blood today, as part of another company event.  If I really wanted to fit in and appear to be the complete Company Man, I could ask them to make it messy, so that the blood on my arm and bandage could fulfill the “red” requirement.

I used to donate blood all the time.  When I was in high school and college, my friends and I donated blood every chance we got.  We had several reasons:

1) It helped people and was the Right Thing to Do.
2) We got to leave school during the day to do it.
3) We figured we could get drunk on much less beer if we had less blood.

Note: These reasons do not necessarily appear in order of importance to us.

My buddy Rik (The Chairman of Fuck Off) and I used to race to see who could squeeze out a pint the fastest.  (Competitive much?)  I think my best time was four and a half minutes.  But then they made me stop doing sit-ups during the blood draw.

I even wrote a blazing article for the school paper, urging everyone to give blood, extolling the virtues of blood donation.  (On advice from our faculty advisor, I omitted reason #3 above.)  I also took the wind out of the most common excuses for not giving.  There’s nothing like the righteousness of youth. 

After I got out of college, (and once I got the coveted “Gold Pin” for making the Gallon Club), I never gave blood again.  It wasn’t really a conscious decision… I was just busy trying to make a living and I never had that much of a convenient opportunity.  Then after my heart surgeries, I was pretty damned tired of being stuck with needles every time I turned around.

But I’d been thinking about it more lately and my company is making it pretty easy.  They set up a mobile Red Cross center down in the cafeteria and all we have to do is sign up and stroll downstairs when it’s time.  Half-hour, and done.  Anyway, that ended up being today.

One thing I learned is that they ask a hell of a lot more questions now, than they did in 1980.  I’m a pretty knowledgeable guy and they were asking me about diseases I haven’t even heard of.  But I figure, if I haven’t heard of it, it’s pretty unlikely that I have it.  So let’s do this!

One thing that cracked me up is that they had the carpeting all covered with sheets of plastic.  It was like something out of “Dexter!”  Heaven forbid there’s some kind of serious accident where blood is shooting out all over the place.  They’d be like, “Oh my God!  The carpet!  We should have covered the carpet!

Luckily, there’s never any drama when it comes to getting blood out of me.  I have the biggest, juiciest inside elbow vein you ever wanna see.  Drunk, blind nurses on crack can hit that thing from across the room, throwing syringes like English darts.  (Drunk, Blind Nurses on Crack should be a punk band name.)

Another thing new was that they drew on me.  I’ve never had anyone mark me up before injecting, cutting or poking, but there’s a first time for everything.

I imagine that the parallel lines represent the path of the vein, so that they can get the right angle.  I know that they actually stuck me right below the dot.  I probably should have thanked them for not giving me ink poisoning.

So they got me set up, iodined, drawn on and poked pretty quickly.  They had a big digital clock set up in view of the beds so that we could give the spongy thing a squeeze every 5 seconds.  (And I thought I was going to get to relax…)  But because the clock was right there, I can tell you that I can still deliver the blood in stellar time.  Even 30 years later, it still took less than 5 minutes to fill my pint.  (I don’t even empty a pint that fast.)

After I was done, she gave me my instructions… Leave the cotton on for 5 hours, leave the “elbow brace” bandage on for 1 hour, no drinking alcohol for 8 hours…  Gah!

With a panicked look, I checked my watch, making the phlebotomist laugh.  (Hell yeah, I know what they’re called.)  Luckily most of the 8 hours would elapse during work.

But the best part?  The bandage that they criss-crossed over my elbow was bright red!  There’s my red trim for Maryland Flag Outfit/Preakness Day! 

I left it on for most of the day.  It looked like a gang sign or something.  When I went out for lunch, I expected the Crips to roll up on me all, “Yo, wass up, old white boieeeeeee?

While I was having lunch, I heard some bad news… Disco Queen Donna Summer passed away this morning at the age of 63.

There goes another touchstone of my youth.  Donna Summer’s music was inescapable during my late high school/early college years.  Sure, “disco sucked,” but at least hers was quality stuff.  She had a great look, a great beat and great pipes.  Hers were the songs I actually enjoyed dancing to when I’d be out at the clubs.

My favorite memory of her isn’t even real.  Have you ever seen the movie “The Full Monty?”  For the unfamiliar, it’s a movie about 5 ordinary Englishmen who decide to put on a male revue in their working-class town, and doing it completely naked, or as it’s called, giving them the “Full Monty.”  One of the songs they rehearsed was Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff.”

Anyway, there’s a scene when the guys have had a quarrel and called off their performance.  They’re all standing among everyone else in the unemployment line when “Hot Stuff” comes on over the radio.  Next thing you know, slowly but surely, and almost by accident, they all start going through their moves.  It’s a brilliant sight gag.  Here, see for yourself…

Before tonight, I haven’t seen this in probably 10 years and I swear, I’m sitting here laughing my head off.

If Donna Summer can make my clumsy ass, and those of these 5 blokes look good, she must have really had something.

Safe on, Miss Summer.  You were definitely Hot Stuff.

*Click here for the factual meaning behind the MD flag. It is also the picture source.


dad said...

Glad to see you are still giving blood. I recall a proud time in Ohio when You,
Ed, and I were giving blood together at the Whitehouse Vets Club. Great feeling. The first time I gave blood was at Duquesne when in my Jr. yr. my Principles of Statistics professor was sick in Mercy Hospital and a call went out for blood donors. My frat. Bros. all passed on it, But i was not comfortable in that class and felt a duty. So I went down to the hospital and gave a pint. Later that semester Dr. Bakerman called me in and was thankful and said no matter how bad I did on the Final, I was going to get a C at the worst. YES there is a God. Followup at the Final exam, fellow Frat Bros were sweating, I mean sweating, I got up and left about 30 minutes into the 2 hour exam. My blue book was blank,except for a note reminding him of our deal. I think I could have passed it, but I had other exams the same day. Great memories of a blood giving experience some 50 years ago. Dad

bluzdude said...

That is fucking hilarious. And I bet your frat brothers thought you were The Shit. I would say something about the apple and the tree, but that horse is pretty much out of the barn by now.

Anonymous said...

I could never give blood. I have the tiniest veins ever! I actually have an excrutiating story of when I was in an accident at 16, being in the hospital and having a nurse Mengele dig around in my arm (with a needle!) trying to get to a vein. Yeah, good times. I had to give a ton of blood during both pregnancies and those phlebotomists were magical. But it still wasn't fun, and I would warn them going in that I had a huge fear of needles (gee, wonder why?) and small veins. But, I put on my big girl pants and dove in, mostly because I had no choice. But yeah, giving blood intentionally for a drive? Not gonna happen.

RIP Donna Summers. :(

Mrs. Bachelor Girl said...

You're a braver man than I am, Bluz. know what I mean. I've given blood exactly once, when a friend needed a bone marrow transplant (they tested all the donations to see if anyone matched). And I basically closed my eyes and screamed "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA" the entire time.

But next time the LifeShare blood mobile shows up at The Guy's work, I'm going to be brave. "Brave" being a relative term, of course.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

That "Hot Stuff" clip actually made me LOL. Maybe I should watch that movie finally.

I can't believe that monstrosity is actually the Maryland flag. I Googled it to confirm, because . . . wow.

Anonymous said...

I think your company was throwing amateur phlebotomists at you. First of all, I've never seen them draw lines before. That would be like a brain surgeon writing H-E-A-D on the side of your skull before brain surgery. Second, that bandage. My God, it looks like you had Tommy John surgery! X marks the spot. "We're afraid his lower arm might fall off so wraps it good!"

Are you sure those weren't just a bunch of vampires pulling a scam? Happens all the time.

bluzdude said...

Having a giant, easily accessible vein was a Godsend when I was getting my heart procedures done. Every time I turned around, someone wanted a vial of blood, so I was constantly being poked. I can only imagine how traumatic it would have been if they had to go digging around in there every time.

For my first procedure, I had to go to this lab every week to get blood drawn for tests. I definitely knew which phlebotomist I wanted. One wasn’t that good, another was OK, but there was one that was just perfect. I could barely tell when she was in. Like buttah, she was so smooth.

bluzdude said...

The trick is that you don’t look when they’re about to stick you. You just grit your teeth and it’s over in 5 seconds. Heck, you’ve given birth… you can withstand anything! A bee sting is worse. Stubbing your toe is worse. Banging your knee on the corner of the end table is worse.

When the bloodmobile shows up, bribe yourself… promise you’ll do something nice for yourself. I know that’s how I got over my fear of shots when I was a kid. Mom bribed me. Worked like a charm.

bluzdude said...

I told you! I laughed my head off, even the second time through.

Would I lie to you? Of course that’s the MD flag. Yeah, it’s a little… “busy.”

I always like the fact that the Ohio flag was irregularly shaped... like some kid was trying to make a paper snowflake out of it.

bluzdude said...

I work for a highly regulated company... it's probably one of those mandatory legal steps, like the McDonalds 'Caution: Hot coffee is hot" warnings.

Cassie said...

First, GOOD JOB!

NOW, do this every 3 months and I'll have that much more respect for you!


bluzdude said...

I plan on donating whenever they do the blood donation drive at the office, which I think is three times a year. Or maybe it's four... I'm not sure.

I fully believe in the rightness of blood donation, no question. I just had to get off the dime and do it.

But come to think of it, I think that all the hospitals should put plastic sheeting down on the floors, just in case. I bet a lot more than blood lands on hospital floors.

Judie said...

So I would like to believe that the real meaning of the Maryland flag is "Let's make a state flag that when strangers see it, they start getting dizzy and queesy, then turn their cars around and go back where they came from." I can't even look at that flag!

As for "Hot Stuff," she was way too young to leave us. We're still tapping our feet.

You're a good man to give blood, Bluz. They won't take mine, so Rod gives enough for both of us, and has since he was 18. They love him at the Red Cross, and I get the cool tee shirts.

bluzdude said...

Yeah, that's one weird flag... "Maryland: The Vertigo State."

When I used to give in HS/College, they used to give you little red Blood Drop pins. Then once you reached 8 pints, they gave you a gold "Gallon Club" pin. I think I still have them all.