In some ways I admit I had already psyched myself out. But I don't believe it was all my fault.
It shouldn't have been so difficult. People do it all the time and I was watching one after another go in and come back out an hour later, upright, walking, talking and perfectly normal.
Needless to say my pulse was elevated. They told me so. "You have to calm down," they said. I couldn't hide my nerves so it was unlikely they would soon be calmed.
I was checked on both sides for the best location. Only one viable option I was told so they set me up and began the process.
My fingers were tapping. I decided to stare out the window. It was a cold rain. Grey and bleak on the outside. I realized my toes were cold as I stared down at my feet propped up.
It was time. With blood pressure cuff on and stress ball in hand I was told to squeeze three times and not let go on the third. I obeyed every instruction. They encouraged me to be distracted so as to help calm my obvious nervousness. I noticed my leg was shaking. They must have noticed it too. It seemed like a timely phone call that I quickly answered so I could avoid my mind being on the needle I could now feel sticking in my arm. She said I would feel a "slight prick." She lied.
Turns out the call wasn't distracting enough because I could hear the phlebotomist saying nothing was happening. I cringed as I began to feel the search and rescue that was apparently being attempted to find a vein in my arm.
"Do you feel that?" I was asked. I mumbled out some sort of affirmation as I continued to cringe in pain. She called for backup but that would not improve the situation.
Then it started. My worst fear coming true. I was suddenly light-headed. Things were beginning to go fuzzy. I would later be asked if I got "wonky" whatever that means. But yes, I was feeling wonky and the needle digging in my arm was unsuccessful because there was nothing being produced. Clearly she had not found the vein. So I told them I was getting dizzy when truthfully I felt clammy and hot. I was praying hard I wouldn't pass out. That has happened before. And here I was experiencing the very thing I somehow knew would happen.
Let's just say I didn't save a life today, although somehow I feel the gauge in my arm and the bruise I was assured I'd get should be worth something. A for effort?! Not really.
I didn't have anything to prove but I really do believe donating blood is a wonderful thing. I had truly hoped I would follow in my dad's footsteps. He donates all the time. They even call him to sign up because he has a blood type that is highly requested. I was hoping this was the first of many donations for me. I really had hopes of muscling through my anxiety and conquering this fear. But I guess it's just not for me. At least according to my "flat veins that aren't as bouncy" as they like.
So operation "Carrie donates blood" was not a success today. And I can honestly say I probably won't sign up to try again. I'm not one of those people who expect it to be someone else's responsibility but I do appreciate, truly, the people who make it a habit to give. Thank you, not just for those on the receiving end of those pints, but for those like me who must find other means by which to help.
(There is absolutely no spiritual lesson or depth here, at least none that I can see. Sorry.)