Monday, September 24, 2012

That time I gave blood...

The first time I gave blood quickly became the last time I gave blood. (Unless- of course- someone I know is in dire need, I guess I can suck it up and try to do it again- but I will bitch to you about it.)

Recently, a good friend of mine was hospitalized. All of his friends scrambled to do anything they could for him and his family but, as is almost always the case, there was little to be done at the time when he was worst off. Our options of help ranged from bringing baked goods, to providing moral support, to donating blood. Despite my debilitating fear of needles and everything related to them, I had done everything else on the support forefront and wanted to do more. I decided to give blood. I would like to point out that after I have to get a shot or get blood drawn, I call 3-5 people to tell them what I just did and that I survived. No amount of smiley face stickers or shitty lollipops can give me the "pat on the back" that I need after I interact with a needle- only generous amounts of self driven positive verbal feedback will do.

I knew the only way I was going to be able to donate was if I had constant moral support. A coworker of mine, Rachel, was also going to give blood, so we made plans to go during lunch. I was incredibly nervous and was not sure what state I would be in afterwards, so I asked her to drive. She is apparently a pro at blood drives, so I distractedly talked and asked her questions during the ride to the hospital. Much like that time I went snorkeling, the lead up to that time I gave blood became a jumble of far off gazes, imagining the worst case scenarios, and bursts of rapid speech intermingled with moments of quiet panic.

We got to the blood drive and Rachel let me go first so I wouldn't have to sit in sheer terror any longer. After they scanned my license, they sent me to a makeshift cubicle where a woman pricked my finger and rambled off the longest laundry list of questions ever. I could barely focus enough to answer questions like my date of birth, much less "Have you lived with anyone in the past 5 years that may have shared needles with someone that may have visited Africa since 1993?" Apparently I said everything I needed to say because I was directed to a group of cots set up as the blood donation station. I grabbed a cot by the window- hoping a view of something would distract me from the needle that was about to be stuck in my arm and sat there while my mouth went dry and my palms got sweaty.

Two doctors grabbed seats on the other cots at about the same time I did. One of them, lightly laughing, let the nurse know that he had never given blood before and that he was a little nervous. This did not help my case. How is this man- who is surrounded with tubes, blood, needles, blood, sick people, gross human stuff, and blood every day at work nervous!? If he's nervous- I need should be FREAKING OUT right now. Oh wait- I am. The nurse, having picked up on my emotions, let him know "Baby- you don't have anything to be nervous about. Besides- you think you're nervous? Look at this one- here- she won't even look at me." Damn, she was good.

The two nurses got to work on their assembly line style blood drive. They got everything going on the two doctors and made their way over to me. When one of them ripped open the antiseptic wipe, I almost levitated. As they set up the needle and started drawing blood, I tried to focus on good things. I stared lazily at the palm tree outside the window and slowly closed my eyes as I realized I was sweating. Like seriously sweating. Like pooling in my belly button and dripping from my ponytail sweating. The nurse hurried over to me. "Oh no, baby- you can't close your eyes. Stay awake. You gotta calm down." She rummaged around in an ice chest and came at me with three ice bags- two for my neck and chest and one for my head. As she packed me in ice like a seafood display, I heard "Is she OK?" coming from the "nervous" Doctor. I was making a damn sweaty scene.

I looked at her, tried my best power of persuasion, and told her "I want to stop." "Uh-uh you can't stop now. You have to finish. Just relax. This isn't a big deal. What are you so afraid of?" I turned my attention back outside and kept thinking "I'm going to puke all of those potatoes I ate for lunch."

I hadn't eaten lunch yet. I was high off of giving blood.

As I finished up, a nurse sat on the cot beside me to give blood. She was eyeing me and explaining that she had never done it before and was kind of nervous. (GREAT- WANT TO JOIN THE CLUB!?) The nurse running the station told her not to worry about it- and don't worry about me- I was a paid actress. They got me over there so people could see the worst case scenario.

I queasily smiled at the two and tried to joke "they're not paying me enough." Or that's what I was going for. Instead, I'm pretty sure I looked and sounded something like "Sloth" from Goonies.

The moment finally came that I was done being drained and I hobbled away from the cot as quickly as I could. Rachel, who started after me, and was done ten minutes before me was there with moral support and cookies and O.J. and candy.

As I made my way through a bag of Famous Amos, I decided I would stick to baked goods and moral support from here on out. At least I'm good at one of those.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Honest Look at Hurricanes

Now that all of us in South Louisiana have survived Hurricane Isaac, I would like to provide everyone with an honest look at hurricanes. While they are  nerve racking and produce more gossip and rumors than TMZ, they usually turn out OK. Actually, when a storm like Isaac- weak, poorly formed, not a lot of power (and yes- that is a hurricane, not a tennis serve) is predicted to make land fall- people get kind of excited. In fact, the overly used phrase "Hurrication" is worked into conversation as often as possible. "Where are you going for the Hurrication?" "Did you get booze for the Hurrication?" "Man- I am so psyched about the Hurrication." "Can you pass the Hurricaiton?"

I am going to go ahead and break it down for you. There is no such thing as a "Hurrication." The suffix "cation" implies relaxation, good times, and- most of all- amenities (read A/C, food, gas, running toilets, etc). Even if you are able to evacuate to somewhere fun during a Hurricane- the likelihood of you deciding where to go, who to go with, when to leave, and actually getting there without any stress is impossible. Also- once you are wherever you are- even if you are "cationing"- there will be some points of anxiety as the storm bares down on your home and all of the people you know who stayed (because they care about what happens... unlike you- enjoying your margarita poolside... shame shame... and yes I'm jealous).

And- for those of us who stay- the only "cation" part will be the first night (or night and day)- where you still have power- and all you have to do is drink, eat, and sleep. But then- when that pop, buzz, and flicker happens- when that last little laugh fades- when you wake up in the middle of the night in a puddle of your own sweat- when the power goes out- to quote a wise SEC coach, "lots go wrong."

To give you an idea- here is what you think your Hurrication is going to look like:
Here is what it will actually look like:

Here is a more in depth look at the timeline of a "Hurrication:"

  1. The bastard hurricane takes a turn for your home town. Well- at least it's still a weak, puny hurricane. The type of hurricane that was always picked last at dodgeball. I'm sure it's African storm parents are disappointed in what its made of itself. As they watch its approach to the coast, his dad looks at his mom: "He should have gone to law school." This is the time where you decide what to do with yourself. Also, this is when most people start to act like Perez Hilton- and think they have all of the scoop. 
  2. You make your plans. You need gas, groceries, booze, water, and to get your ass to where you are going. There is nothing more fear inducing than a tussle over the last loaf of shitty white bread or frustrating than sitting behind an Excursion for 45 minutes at a gas station only to find out they got the last single drop of gas from the pump. True story. I paid $22 in cash and had to go get $20.86 back because there was only $1.14 worth of gas left. I used more gas getting to the station and waiting than I actually bought. CRAP. 
  3. You get to your home/friends house/wherever and let the party begin. The booze will flow and the meat will cook. You emptied out your freezer and are now providing everyone with a smorgasbord of tenderloin, gumbo, shrimp, and ice cream. Ahhh- yes- the ice cream. Grocery stores give ice cream away right before hurricanes. You read that right. Just give it away. Most people eat more ice cream during a Hurrication than they do the rest of the year combined. It just goes down so smooth. Moolineum Crunch- yes, indeed. Drunken ice cream pants down dance parties. And Apples to Apples. 
  4. The next morning you wake up. You still have power but are stuck inside because the storm is raging outside. As the Hurricane thrashes its head around and blasts NIN, you begin to regret how many calories and shots you consumed the night before. You make your way into the kitchen for some Tylenol nerve pills and you see the remnants of the night before. You totally forgot that you also decided to finish off the milk- with the oreos, of course. 
  5. To get over your regret, you go take a nap. There's nothing better than sleeping in the (sideways, drowning, overwhelming) rain, right? When you wake up- you're hungry. And its almost noon. And you haven't eaten since breakfast. You decide to make a sandwich. With chips. And then have some leftovers. And wash it down with a beer. And ice cream. 
  6. You're into a game of monopoly/reading a book/taking a shower/surfing the web/sleeping when a loud pop echoes through the air. You see the unmistakable green sparks of a blown transformer and, as in slow motion, the house slowly whirs to a stop. The power is gone. All of the residents begin to yell to each other from their current activities that the power has gone out. Everyone knows- but it still needs to be announced. 
  7. Its been almost 48 hours. You've started counting the hours without electricity like a prisoner counts down a life sentence. You hope the pencil marks come off the wall- but actually you really don't care- because you're miserable. It is hot. And gross. And sticky. And you end up piling up into one room with the window unit plugged into the generator to sleep at night. Five people, three pets- no problem. As long as you have that sweet sweet A/C. 
  8. A power truck drives down your street. Grown men run into their front yards as if they were kids responding to the obnoxious 'HELLLLOOOO' of an ice cream truck. Your tears of joy turn into tears of sick frustration as you realize they made a wrong turn and are not helping your sorry asses any time soon. 
  9. Now- this is a powerful moment. Everyone has a breaking point moment during a Hurrication. That one moment where being hot and gluttonous and hanging out with the same people for days straight has taken its toll and then something happens. A fight breaks out. Someone forgets to close the fridge all the way and generator power is wasted. Someone drank the last beer. For me, it was finding out that my cat had used the bathroom on my clothes for a second time. This time- on the clothes on my bed. As I was outside, in the pouring rain, hosing cat pee off of my clothes I did a quick calculation and realized that, without power, I was down to my last pair of EVERYTHING. Yep- that was the point for me.  The nice breakdown point.
  10. Life sucks.
  11. The storm has passed and people are wandering the streets and rubbing their eyes. Assessing the damage. Professionals on TV are urging you to stay away from downed power lines (honestly I think evolution should just keep on trucking and do what it needs to do- maybe we shouldn't warn the people who need to be warned, ya know?). There are rumors of people with power. Where? Where are these houses with the sweet A/C? With multiple rooms that you can sleep in without sweating through your clothes? You wait it out. You know your turn will come. And it does. Eventually. Just like before, there is a whir, and a buzz, and then everything comes to life again. You hug your coffee maker and lap top like long lost friends and then yell to everyone else (just in case they don't know): THE POWER'S ON. Then you update facebook. Because that's what matters most. 
  12. Work. The thing you were happiest to take a break from. But finally- you return to some normal semblance of life and secretly- you kind of like it. You're happy to be back.