Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Dangerous Life

I don't know what's happening to me. I've always been pretty uninterested in the physical world, especially in having contact with any parts of it that might hurt; but that's starting to change. A bit.

Sign #1: Standing in line at Barnes & Noble the other day, I almost bought a book off the "Under $10 Gifts" table: 501 Dangerous Things to Do.
For myself.
The only reason I didn't buy it is because I figured I could find such lists for free online, or make my own.
I don't recognize myself in this desire.

Sign #2: My demented love for Captain Kirk, poster boy for the physical world.

This morning, The Finnish Friend sent me the youTube link to "William Shatner Saved My Life,". Without even knowing about my little field trip, she suggested this could be the C-KAPE (Capt. Kirk Academy for the Pursuit of Excellence) theme song. I hereby officially say, "Make it so."

(I didn't embed it because I don't like its screencap, so I took this picture of my favorite Kirkglow in the vid. When a man wears eye makeup, you know he's not afraid of anything.)

Sign #3: At an annual Christmas party the other weekend, I asked one of the guests who coaches baseball if he could recommend any sports movies, since I have recently found athletics to be something of an analogy for moviemaking. Movies about team sports, I mean, not the sort of sports movies I've watched, like Chariots of Fire or Breaking Away, which are barely sports movies at all.

This party is attended by lovely people who are generally more oriented toward the physical world than I am.
Soon people were calling out movie titles, one after another. I felt such love, like they were welcoming me to their species.
Now my Netflix queue is loaded with titles like Miracle! and Coach Carter. (Suggestions welcome.)

Even weirder, someone asked me if I'd consider playing a team sport, and I scoffed; but since then I find myself thinking about the possibility...

Sign #4: I faced down a major physical fear yesterday. I gave blood. True, I had to be rescued, and afterward I went to bed with my stuffed toys (below) and talismanic Firefly Jayne hat ("A man walks down the street wearing a hat like that, people know he's not afraid of anything"); but I did it.

I am not afraid of blood, but my subconscious is.
While I'm not in the least particular about germs--I'm of the Julia Child "just pick it up off the floor and brush it off" school of food sanitation--I am squeamish about blood. It's always baffled me that I go all wobbly and pale if people even talk about the stuff.
Naturally, I've never been willing to put myself through the ordeal of giving blood, but I've been wanting to do something in thanks for all the medical help I've gotten this year.
Plus I decided giving blood would count as a field trip for C-KAPE (Captain Kirk Academy for the Pursuit of Excellence).

I planned it nicely--drank liquids, ate red meat, thought about the common good, and then I took my iron-rich, plump-veined and perky self over to the VA hospital.
Everything went fine. I avoided looking at any needles, tubes, and body fluids and instead quizzed the tech about her Christmas plans:
What was she serving for dinner?
Why, her famous shrimp dip, for which she happily shared the recipe.

[You take 1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese--not the low-fat kind--and mix in 1 can of Campbell's cream of shrimp soup and a package of thawed frozen shrimp--the little kind.
The thought of what this must look like is not to blame for what happened next.]

I'm a good bleeder: after only 6 minutes, I was done. The tech unhooked me and I'm thinking this is not bad at all, when she--otherwise very kind and thoughtful--plunks on the gurney right in my sight line the bulging baggie of my dusky purple blood and starts to squish it around (to mix in the anticoagulants, I guess).

My innards began to flutter like an octopus in motion, I bloomed a pale sweat, and my head went twirling off. Luckily I was already lying down, and after a few minutes of kind ministrations and reassurance that this happens all the time, I got up and toddled over to get my restorative juice and cookies.

I sat down at the table with an elderly fellow donor who proudly told me he had now given a total of 1 gallon of blood... a whole bucket!
Why, that's wonderful, I'm saying, when the octopus come fluttering back and it seems a good idea to put my head on the table.
A nearby attendant said, "Oh, dear," rang a little brass bell, and a couple workers rushed over like firefighters. I could barely stand up, so they sort of hoisted me onto the gurney and wheeled me away.

I felt like a big dweeb. Yes, I did.
But, turns out, if you're donating blood, no one minds if you're a wuss. I felt better when a tech told me that the worst is the Red Cross drives they hold at high schools.
"It's a domino effect," he said. "One of the kids vomits and then they all get started..."
And he gave me a sticker that says "Be Nice to Me: I Donated Blood."

P.S. Fear of Blood

This morning I feel absolutely fine. I'd googled "fear of blood" (hemophobia) last night and read that it may result from a traumatic physical experience.
But I've never had a bloody injury, I thought.
So silly: After a night's sleep, I woke up remembering that the summer I was five, a cat bit me in the head! (I'd picked him up in the middle of a cat fight in our driveway, to save him, and he immediately tore into my temple.)
Wow. Yeah.
I remember well being drenched in bright red sticky hot blood. My mother clamped a towel to my head and rushed me to the ER, where I lay on a gurney, terrified I would have to have stitches. Turned out, copious blood notwithstanding, it was a shallow wound, and they sent me home.

I still have the scar.
I wonder if remembering this event will make donating blood easier next time. At least I'll be prepared.

I certainly do want to try again, anyway.
Last night I felt kinda icky, and I got worrying that maybe draining off blood when I'm still a bit whoozy with vertigo wasn't such a great idea. Then I remembered why I did it. My little bit of discomfort is nothing compared to how people who need that blood must be feeling.


Lill said...

What a great Christmas present you gave someone in donating blood. As for me, I felt that icky feeling just reading your account.

As someone who has needed, and had, a blood transfusion I can attest to the gratitude I felt to the blood donor(s). However, when I tried to give blood I had the faints when they tested me for iron. I canna do it, Captain. So, thank you for doing your part, Fresca. A big gold star from me!

Fresca said...

Hey, Lill! It's nice to hear from someone on the other end. Thanks.

And yeah, I had "that icky feeling" writing this account too. (Next time, I'm taking alone my new Moomin toy you sent me.)

ArtSparker said... and appreciated.

poodletail said...

Zowie! I thought you were brave before. Now I really think so. Good on you, fresca.
Did you learn your blood type?

momo said...

oh, you didn't even mention this when you told me you were donating blood! good for you! I love your story, and retrieving that memeory IS very interesting.
I thank all the generous souls who donate blood.

I was the non-competent roommate of a PE major who signed me up for various volleyball and softball teams in which I was always the weakest link. But I'm glad to have had the experience of knowing I was the worst one on the field and playing anyway.

Fresca said...

The Red Cross will mail me my blood type--I don't know what it is.

Volleyball is the only team sport I've enjoyed--probably because it's relatively stationary.

Rudyinparis said...

"my iron-rich, plump-veined and perky self"--this is SUCH a good description, and so oddly effective in describing you. Now the next time we get together I'll be thinking, happily, in my head, "Oh, she is SO iron rich, plump veined and perky, isn't she!"

Annika said...

Hooray for you! That's a heroic story, and interesting, too.

I've always thought fear of blood is strange, especially in women. We see it flowing out of our bodies at least once a month, and it has always seemed weird to me that people aren't OK with blood after half a lifetime with that. If it's not too personal a question, does menstrual blood make you as queasy as blood from injuries? I ask out of honest curiosity.

I really, really want to donate blood myself, but I was told when I tried that my veins are too narrow. There needs to be a minimum of flow to keep the blood from coagulating too soon and apparently, I don't bleed fast enough. It's a silly little defect to have. On the other hand, it might have been a life-saving trait for some of my ancestors, who knows?

And while I'm at it: thanks for the beautiful card, and happy new year!

Fresca said...

Hi, Annika!

What a great question!
I've never thought of the connection between menstruation and my fear of blood because, in fact, no, that monthly blood has never triggered any squeamishness---on the contrary, sometimes I've even thought how pretty it is (when it's a beautiful bright red), and I've also thought that it's a wonderful reminder that I live in a physical body (something I tend to drift away from knowing).

I was surprised to learn at the Red Cross that a large percent (I can't remember the number, but it's surprisingly high) of people cannot donate blood, for one reason or another. That made me feel it's important to try again and see if I can handle it.
Almost fainting sounds like no big deal, but it is intensely unpleasant, so I hope I get over it.

Guess what? I came home from New Year's Eve festivities last night to your package! What a really cool surprise, I was touched you sent me a present, and such a good one too: thank you very much.