For as long as I can remember Momma G and my Dad, donating blood at The San Diego Blood Bank. I would always go with them and watch their little pint baggies slowly fill up with blood while they squeezed their little squeezie thing and sigh and say "I can't wait until I can do that, too!" I even remember once or twice the staffers, not wanting me to feel left out, would even "bandage" up my little 6, 7, 8 year old arm while I wore my mint green SDBB shirt that has since been left in California. I also remember Momma G always falling faint and ill and taking longer than usual in the canteena and the staff members checking up on her. I also remember the Super Donations they would do, with a needle in both arms and the big "spinny machine" that would separate the platelets from the rest of the blood, and again, Momma G with the blankets and handwarmers. There was no sense of urgency so I was never afraid. Just, oh, okay. I don't remember my Dad ever being like that, and no one was panicky or never let her donate. It seemed normal.
2005. During my junior year of high school the New York Blood Center came to my school and with parental permission we were allowed to donate, as long as we were over 110 pounds.
"Awesome, now it's my turn!"
I was pretty sure I was over 110 pounds, and so with written consent in hand, I gave up my blood for a greater good. The needle was bigger than I expected, but if I remember right it looked like a 14 or 12, but already with at least a 4ga in one ear it wasn't frighteningly huge. I squeezed and counted and squeezed and counted and watched my blood drain from my body and when it was all full, which was relatively quick, I even asked to hold my bag o' blood. It was warm and squishy and pretty awesome. I was in awesome spirits feeling pretty great. I got bandaged up and was ready to go when whoosh I was back down with my head in a negative incline and looking at my feet.
"If you pass out we have to call 911."
Don't pass out I said to myself. And I didn't. I just went home extremely tired, thinking it was all due to my sleeping issues, not getting enough sleep, or maybe only eating a doughnut for "breakfast", or maybe I just didn't weigh enough. I crawled into bed and slept it off.
2009 was the next time I donated. It was at a church a block away, so no train taking involved, just in case I got faint again. I knew I was over 110, had a better meal than a doughnut, and since it was afternoon wasn't worried about a sleep deficit. Squeeze, one, two, three, four, five, squeeze. Still some lightheaded-ness and again looking at my feet, but it wasn't as bad as the time before.
2010. Mid-town, CitiCorp building. My first encounter with a blood collection monitor. Those little annoying machines that rock your bag back and forth and beep if it's not filling fast enough. I swear, that thing cut my filling time in half. But of course, I got faint and light headed again and was not allowed to get up from the little chair for an extra 20 minutes or so, sipping a juice box of apple juice. I didn't feel so self conscious, though, because a well built man was getting sick, himself. Eventually I got up, pocketed some cookies, and slowly made my way home to... Sleep.
2011. Another blood drive at a local church, other side of our block. Again with the blood sucking machine, but this time I asked for my time. Six minutes, 14 seconds. I made it out of the chair and over to the canteena. First time I've accomplished that without incidence. Or so I thought. Lightheaded, dizzy, faint. I probably would have went down had I waited a minute longer to get someone's attention. I was brought back to the chair and again was set up looking at my feet. Until I felt nauseous, then I was rolled over. Then I felt cold and they found a blanket for me. And at this point I'm thinking What the FUCK it just keeps getting worse! They eventually released me and I felt much better, well enough to go to a church that was having a discussion on emergency preparedness, which is so my thing, until I drained of all color and literally had to run and jump over little kids to get ill in a nice private spot.
Now I'm afraid to donate whole blood. I'm open to donating platelets, but can't find a "good" time. Donating bone marrow skeeves me out, and I can't afford to donate monies. So what can I donate?
My hair! To make wigs for children who, as the Locls of Love website put it, are suffering from hair loss. What better use for hair that would otherwise be thrown away?
While trying to figure out when to do it, start of summer, after birthday, Momma G asked me to cut her hair. So I did. Emi liked it and said I should do it that day. So I washed and blow dried my hair.
And measured it. Eighteen inches. Eighteen! Probably more because my hair isn't super straight. But still. Eighteen!
Then I sectioned it and made faces.
As I said when I emailed a friend...