The last time I donated blood was in 2013. When the sign up list went around at church last month, I stared at the clipboard, trying to remember why it'd been such a long time since I'd donated.
Then I remembered. Oh, yeah. China. I went to China, Summer 2014, and they don't let you donate for three years after traveling to China or Africa. Before my trip to China, I would donate about once a year. I considered it my heroic act. (I think I once got a t-shirt that said "I'm a hero for donating!") I did the math quickly in my head. Three years had passed, so I signed the clipboard.
I sat in the chair and let the talkative student nurse take my pulse and ask me whether I'd had sex with anyone with HIV and if I'd gotten a tattoo within the last week. She confirmed that it'd been three years since I'd been in China. Before I knew it, I was lying on a pop-up hospital bed and someone was touching my forearm to find a vein.
Then I remembered something. Last time I donated, I got a bit dizzy. I had to lie on the floor with the fan blowing on my face. The time before that, I had to teach right after, and I nearly passed out in class. ha ha! ugh... Great time to remember that.
Long story short: I didn't pass out. I didn't throw up. But they gave me an ice pack for my neck and draped a giant red barf bag over me. It covered me like a blanket. Honestly, do people throw up that much? They told me to breath, squeeze my butt cheeks, squeeze the wooden stick (what happened to the stress balls?) and not think about it.
Luckily I brought my iPod. I cranked up the volume, but it wasn't helping too much. Then, Shinedown's "Crow and the Butterfly" song came on. Simon (my drum teacher) taught me to count it in triplets. Yes, it's 12/8 time or something, but he says it's simpler to count it in triplets.
I tossed the barf bag off me. I won't need it, I told myself, and I counted the song in triplets. "1-triplet, 2-triplet, 3-triplet, 4-triplet..." It worked! The color returned to my face. I breathed easier. When it ended, I put it on repeat and did it again. Out loud. I didn't care who stared. It got me through my nervousness.