I've blogged about giving blood before, and so it's widely documented that I hate doing it. I've covered my traumatic childhood experience that I think developed into my fear of needles, as well as bad experiences I've had as an adult trying to give blood. And I've mentioned the irrational anxiety that comes over me every time I even start considering visiting a blood drive. Did you know that I always picture myself suddenly bending my elbow such that the needle is jammed up into me? Why would I ever do that? Why does that image always haunt me?
I find that preparation is a powerful calming narcotic for me, so I've got the process streamlined by now. I know the things I need to do to make it a relatively easy process and to keep myself from passing out right afterwards. I know to drink lots of water beforehand (no, really, lots) and I know to tell them that they have to use my right arm. Don't even try old Lefty over there, she won't give you nothin'.
Even though I've done it probably ten times and I know what to do to make it easy, I still hate it. So let's talk about why I keep doing it. After all, there are lots of things that I don't like to do, and for the most part, I don't do them (eating canteloupe, jogging, poking myself in the eye). One of the reasons that I do it is because of my anxiety. I always feel a tiny bit heroic when I give blood, because I know I'm so scared to do it. I'm being brave, like St. George facing the dragon, er, bloodmobile, or at least like a ten year old standing up to a bully.
But aside from making me feel like I'm conquering some of my own phobias, I feel like it's an important thing for everyone to do. I feel a bit more connected with the rest of humanity when I give blood. It's recognizing that we all need to help each other out sometimes. Somebody needs help, and it may or may not be because of anything they can control. Because we are the same kind of animal, we have these very basic, biological things in common. But because we're human, I have the ability to decide that I want to give it to you instead of using it myself. "Here, I made this for you. No, it's cool, I got stuff to make more for myself. You need this right now."
I secretly wish that I had a really rare blood type, so whenever I showed up, everyone would cheer for me and my magic blood. Actually, I have the most common blood type, O+. It goes with my brown hair and brown eyes. Luckily, I can still give to anyone else who has positive blood, which covers most of the population. The Red Cross still wants my blood, they told me so.
And they want your blood, too. Unless you're a mad cow, in which case they still think you're a nice person.