I have a new twist on the old "fight or flight" reaction. Mine is "faint or flight."
I went to give blood again today, just like I do like clockwork every eight weeks. At least this time I was successful at donating a whole pint, unlike the last time. However, I had to go to time-out when I was finished.
I knew it was coming toward the end of my donation. I was getting very irritated with the technician who took my blood. He was just silly, and I had no tolerance for silly at that particular moment. The worse I felt, the more he got on my nerves. [Side note: It wasn't just me, either. Right before I left, the shift supervisor had him in the corner, and she was reaming him a new one.] For those of you who have been through childbirth [okay, I realize EVERYONE has been through childbirth, but I meant the ones who have actually GIVEN birth], it was sort of like that transition period when you get close to delivering, where you hate everyone in sight, including the person who made you pregnant. Maybe ESPECIALLY the person who made you pregnant.
Right after I decided I may have to kill this young man before I left, I started yawning. I didn't know it until a couple of years ago, but yawning is a bad sign when you're giving blood. I think it indicates the brain isn't getting enough oxygen, and that means you're going to faint. The nurse who told me that said it's quite common for people to yawn right before they die. Thanks for that.
Anyway, the dude who was already getting on my last nerve was speeding me toward the juice-and-cookie table, and I had to ask him to lean my chair back (they usually do that automatically) and let me rest for a minute. Then I felt well enough to go get some snacks, but after sitting at the table for a few minutes the edges started to go black. And voices were coming from a great distance. I finally interrupted a conversation to ask someone to help me lie down.
It's so embarrassing. I give blood six times a year, and this only happens about every four or five years, so I guess that's not too bad a record. But it makes me feel STUPID. I'm afraid people think I get woozy at the sight of blood, and that's not it at all.
Oddly enough, when the feeling first hits me, initially all I can think about is, "I've got to get out of here." I get the feeling that I can outrun this dizziness, this weakness, this embarrassing lack of stamina. Whatever.
The first time I ever gave blood, years ago, I had just started working at the veterinary school on campus. I was sitting in the canteen area feeling so proud of myself, when everything started to get fuzzy and dark. I thought to myself, "I don't know any of these people. I don't want to faint in front of all of these people." So I left and staggered down the hall to my office, where I fainted all by myself. Smart, huh.
Today at least I didn't run away. The volunteers there helped me to a reclining chair and put a wet cloth on my neck. And thank God, they now have a screen that they put up around the weak and infirm so the other donors don't sit there and gawk. Or perhaps get scared and back out of their own donations.
I don't have enough medical knowledge to understand why this happens only sometimes. My theory is that the faster I give a pint of blood, the more likely I am to faint. Today my donation took 4 minutes and 45 seconds. But how do you slow down your blood flow? Hmmmmm...
I also don't understand that urge to flee. And I'm glad that when it hit I wasn't on my Harley.