I’m Nothing But a Cookie Slut

The first time I gave blood, I was a freshman living in Abbot Hall. There was a drive in the basement of Mason, and Grixbot had convinced me to join her in donating, despite my fear of needles.

I’ve never fainted after donating blood (though I’ve seen it happen), but that first time was the closest I came. Not because of the needle- so long as I didn’t look at my arm, it wasn’t a big deal (I have since gotten over that and like to watch them do it- it’s fascinating to watch the blood leave your body).

It was because I didn’t take the cookie.

See, it was somewhere around five in the evening when I donated. Instead of eating something at the little canteen, I figured I’d just pop back upstairs and eat dinner in the caf. It was a very short walk- surely I’d be fine. Right?

Have I mentioned that I’m a dumbass? Because this would be a good place in the story to remind you of this fact.

Walking through the horror movie basement between Abbot and Mason (alas, it’s been remodeled since then), I felt fine.

I did not take the stairs into account.

Now, I may be a lazy motherfucker, galleons, but don’t think that one little flight of stairs is even going to remotely wind me. Normally. However, after giving blood, you are weaker than usual. Even that little bit of exertion (with no juice or cookie in your belly to make up for the missing red stuff) can be too much.

I made it to the top of the stairs just fine. My limbs felt a little bit heavy, but I was now right outside the door to the caf. I figured I’d be okay.

Then Grix grabbed my arm, dragging me toward our room (thankfully, we lived on the first floor). She needed to grab something and, exhibiting one of the many confusing traits of most members of my gender, she didn’t want to go alone. I was to be her companion in the epic sojourn along the short hallway.

Errant flippancy aside, that normally short trek felt like it took hours. As Grix babbled away, all the sounds around me started to fade out. It was as if someone was turning down the volume in my ears.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t, for just a moment, entertain the notion that I was really a robot. Lucky for you lot, I didn’t begin to hear All Along the Watchtower playing in my head. Then again, that was the year I acquired the nickname “The Watchtower.” Maybe I really am a Cylon after all…

Back to the story.

As the sounds around me fade to a cottony roar, I notice the periphery of my vision starting to grow dark. My head, usually full of silly prattle and possibly shrewd observations, seems to be empty. I can’t focus on anything beyond remaining upright. My hand reaches out to the wall next to me, a cruel mimicry of my habit of trailing my fingers along walls and fences that I pass. This time, I’m using the wall to steady my swaying form as my vision narrows to a small tunnel. I can’t see anything but a small circle in front of me. I can’t hear anything but the echoes of the world around me. The loudest sounds are my own ragged breaths and the deep throbbing drum of my heartbeat.

Grix has finally noticed something is wrong as we pass our mentor’s door, and I sag a bit against the wall. With my tiny circle vision, I can see her mouth moving, forming words I can’t quite make out. Calling upon everything I have left in me, I manage to squeak out a sentence that approximated, “Don’t worry, I just need to lie down for a minute.”

She unclipped the carabiner with our room keys from my pants (it was habitual of Grix, in our first year of college, to never have her own keys on her) and unlocked our door. I collapsed into my desk chair, which was situated right by the doorway. I lay my head down on Ghiert 1.0 and willed the world to stop spinning.

Only later would I realize that I would experience similar sensations when I had managed to imbibe entirely too much alcohol. But this was before my drinking days.

Yes, there was a time when I didn’t drink. Sometimes, I can’t believe it myself.

Regardless, I survived my near-faint experience. And I learned a valuable lesson:

Always take the cookie.

As the years passed, I came to really enjoy donating blood. I felt like I was doing something vaguely useful and it snagged me a free cookie.

And as any starving college kid knows, free food is the best food.

The cookie at the end of a blood donation became, for me, the best kind of cookie of all. It was a cookie that required an ordeal. It was a cookie that was a reward for being a good person.

Did I mention it was free?

Freshman year was also the year that Facebook introduced apps... and the Graffiti app was very popular among the ROIALies for a few months.

***

Anyway, I tell you that so that you have a little background about me and blood donation. I have, to tell you the truth, developed a bit of an obsession with donating blood. I go whenever I can.

Maybe it’s the whole “helping people” thing. Then again, maybe, I’m secretly wishing my blood, when given to another person, has the power to bend them to my will. I would let them stick me with a thousand needles if it meant I had my very own army of minions to do my bidding.

Mmm… blood control.

Today, there was a blood drive in Greybull. While said drives were commonplace on the MSU campus, they are rather rare here (only occurring three or four times a year). So, after driving the hour home in my wonderfully air conditioned vehicle (this is relevant to the story, I promise) and stopping off at home to change out of my scrubs, I popped over to the location of the drive.

When I get seated with the nurse who was doing the screening bit, she asks me if I’m interested in doing a double red cell donation instead of the typical whole blood donation (it takes longer, but they end up replacing all the plasma they take out of you, so you end up feeling better by the end of it than you do with a whole blood donation). I tell her I’m game, but that I have never actually gotten to do it, because my iron level has been a little too low for the double red donation.

I pass the iron test with flying colors, so the nurse hollers at Doctor Man to get the machine ready. She then slaps the blood pressure cuff on my arm, preparing to get the last of the physical data before I do the customary questionnaire (the questionnaire that could technically disqualify me every time, were I to answer truthfully… oh well).

The machine makes a beeping sound to indicate it’s done its duty. The nurse looks down, then this horrified look spasms across her face.

“Uh-oh.”

I’m sorry, what did you just say, lady? Uh-oh? What the fuck does that mean? I respond the only way I can- with flippant humor.

“So, what am I dying of?”

She turns to me, her eyes still a bit wide.

“What were you doing before you came here?”

I don’t understand why she’s asking me this, and a bit of dread is creeping over me. I truthfully answer that I wasn’t doing anything- just working and driving, neither of which are strenuous or would overheat me or anything.

Doctor Man walks over, asking which arm I want to use. I open my mouth to respond, but the nurse tells him to wait a bit. She points at the machine’s display, a display I can’t see. He looks surprised.

“Wow, her heart rate is really high, isn’t it?”

The nurse turns to me again and asks me if I’m anxious or nervous. I chuckle and tell her I’ve done this so many times that it’s just routine. Though, I admit with a shaky smile, this is a new thing. I can tell she’s not really listening to what I have to say. She’s already decided that I’m freaking out. That must be it. She puts what I can only assume is supposed to be a comforting hand on my shoulder.

“Why don’t you just go over to the canteen, have a bottle of water, and just calm down? Okay? I need you to calm down. In ten minutes or so, I’ll come get you and we’ll try this again. You know, when you’re calm.”

I open my mouth to argue that I’m already perfectly calm (except for the mild worry now niggling the back of my mind over this weird ass situation), but I realize that nothing I say will convince her.

“Of course, Dr. House.”

She looks puzzled, but I just give her what amounts to my most dazzling, setting-folks-at-ease smile (surprisingly, it’s a very effective tool) and head over to the canteen area. I doubt she understood my reference.

For those of you who don’t get it, Dr. House’s mantra is, “Everybody lies.” He often uses it in reference to patients, telling his team they can’t trust the history the patient has provided for them, sending his crew to the patient’s home to do their own investigations instead. Despite the fact that I was telling the truth, the nurse was behaving exactly like Dr. Gregory House, trusting her observations over my word.

Whatever, I found it amusing.

So I sit there for a bit, breathing deeply, noticing for the first time that I can feel the rapid fluttering of my heart. I hadn’t paid it any heed before, so I couldn’t say for certain how long it had been around. What I did know was, at the end of the ten minute wait period, I could still feel my heart beating as rapidly as it was before.

Returning to the little booth, we try the test again. Still 121 BPM. The nurse just gives me this little look and says that we’re going to try this one more time. She’s going to ask me the interview questions very slowly, and I’m to just relax, take deep breaths, and try to calm down. Inwardly, I roll my eyes. Outwardly, I smile and agree.

I do exactly as I did before, only this time, the nurse is keeping a close eye on me, making sure I do what I’m supposed to. As soon as the questionnaire is over, we get my heart rate for the third and final time.

124 BPM.

She shakes her head and tells me she’ll be deferring me. I sigh and say I understand. Then, I ask her if I should be concerned that I’m fucking tachycardic. I really have no clue how long this has been going on- the last time I had my heart rate checked was the last time I donated blood, which was last October (*whimpers* it’s been so long). She looks puzzled.

“Well, it’s probably just because you’re nervous.”

Goddamn it.

“Listen, this has never happened to me before. Is it something I need to be keeping an eye on? Should I be concerned?”

She seems confused about the question, then kind of shrugs.

“I guess you can check on it every so often.”

Thank you, supposed medical professional. That makes me feel so much better.

So, I left the facility having not donated any blood and with a racing heart, apparently. That was 8ish hours ago. I have checked my heart rate a few times since then. It hasn’t gone down.

I suppose that means I’m dying of something. Not long for this world. Oh woe is me. Mourn me, sweet galleons.

You know what the worst part of today is though?

I didn’t get my goddamn cookie.

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