If you follow me on twitter or facebook you’re already aware of my Epic Bloodletting 2013 but a bunch of people have asked me what I think happened so I thought I’d share (what I think are) my two mistakes here so that I can save somebody else the eventual HORRIBLENESS I went though.
I used to donate blood every couple of month when I was younger. First because it’s just a good thing to do. But also because there was a place in Bakersfield that paid $50 per donation and I was a broke single mom and sure, give me $50 for feeding me cookies and pretzels and orange juice!
I do it now because of my grandma. She donated blood and then she received 9 pints (probably more, that’s just the last number I saw) when she fell and ended up in the hospital. So now it’s a very different thing. I realize that somebody out there has a grandma that needs blood and I’m just so happy to be able to help. And the story I’m about to tell is horrible and disgusting and HORRIBLE but I’m going to start out by saying this: I will 100% be donating blood again as soon as I’m able to. It’s like 30 minutes of your time that costs nothing but saves a life.
I hadn’t donated in almost 10 years so when the mobile bus came to work about six month ago I was the first in line. Then they started to email me to remind me that I was okay to donate again and I kept putting it off till finally I decided that I was done making excuses and scheduled an appointment for Monday at 3:00PM. The office was on my way home and I figured I’d be in and out pretty fast and still beat the majority of traffic.
BOY WAS I WRONG.
I’d done everything right to prepare. I’d had 60+ ounces of water, I ate a bunch of healthy food, I’d worn comfy clothes so that I wouldn’t be stuck with my legs up in the air in the chair with a skirt on, brought in the iPad to read for the 10 minutes the blood giving takes. It was going to go just like any other time I’ve given blood. And all that DID go exactly as it always does.
Till it didn’t.
Problem 1: The day before I had a TINY fever, like half a degree. I didn’t think it was anything to worry about because they took my temp before the draw but the nurse in the ER later said that it might have been enough to set off what eventually happened. Lesson learned.
Problem 2: And this is where it all went downhill, I got up too fast after the draw. Normally I sit in the chair for about 10 minutes after the draw BEFORE I get up and move to the table full of food for recovery. They were getting busy and the girl that started my draw was busy getting a draw started in somebody else so another guy came over to remove the needle and tape me up. He did this quickly because he had already started a draw in somebody else and within a minute of them stopping the flow I was bandaged and he told me to head to the food table. I should have insisted that I sit for a few minutes but I didn’t want to be in the way so I immediately got up, walked to the table, sat down, the nurse asked me what goodies I wanted to munch on, I asked for some water, she turned around to fill the cup, I told her that I was feeling a little dizzy so would it be okay if I laid down on the couch…
And the next thing I knew there were a bunch of people standing around me at the table asking me what my name was and if I knew where I was and I badly needed to vomit. I had passed out sitting in the chair, thank goodness, and before they could scoot me three feet to the couch I had a mouth full of vomit and was pointing at the garbage can. From that point on I pretty much threw up every 10-15 minutes for as long as I can remember being awake.
The nurse kept trying to get me to take sips of water which would come up within minutes. At one point she tried to take a puke bag from me to give me a new one but she didn’t HAVE the new one yet and I told her not to take it away but she did anyway so I vomited a good two foot arch down the front of her coat, down her pants and onto her shoes. After that she always made sure to have the new bag handy before taking the old one away.
I had no concept of time at all but I know by about the 4th time I threw up till I was pretty sure I was going to lose an internal organ, I told her she needed to call my husband. NOW. Once he was on his way they tried to start an IV thinking if they could just get some fluids into me that I’d start to feel better. They tried three times in my arm to get a vein and couldn’t. I have REALLY BAD veins and if I start to dehydrate even a little they collapse, turn to mush and you have to go in through my hand which they weren’t willing to try. The last attempt they thought they had the vein but they were just dumping fluids into my arm, not my vein, and holy shit that hurt. Hurt enough that I forgot for a second about the extreme nausea and almost pulled the needle out of my arm myself.
About that time Ben got there and I remember them talking to him but I honestly don’t remember any of what was said. I remember thinking that I just wanted to go to sleep SO BAD because I knew that was the only way to stop feeling nauseated but they kept putting cold compresses on my head and telling me to stay awake. The next thing I knew was paramedics asking me a lot of questions and that Ben was eating a cookie. MY COOKIE! I NEVER GOT A COOKIE! They asked me if I wanted to try and get to the ER in Ben’s car or in the ambulance and I knew that if I went with Ben I’d sit in the waiting room for who knows how long before being seen but if they took me in the ambulance I’d get in immediately. I also realized how silly it seemed to take an ambulance ACROSS THE STREET to the hospital but I didn’t care JUST GET ME OUT OF THIS PLACE AND STOP THE NAUSEA. They got an IV into my hand, took my blood pressure and blood sugar, all of that was fine but my pulse was weak and in the 10 minutes that they examined me I threw up twice. Well, I dry heaved till I felt like I was going to pass out again twice. Nothing but bile and foam had come up for quite some time.
Then I dry heaved when they loaded me onto the gurney. Then I dry heaved in the ambulance. Then I dry heaved when they moved me to the gurney in the hospital room. And I dry heaved as the doctor asked me questions and took my vitals. It just kept going and going and going. The paramedics had given me as much Zofran as allowed and it didn’t touch the nausea. Then the nurse at the hospital but a full dose of Reglan into my IV. It didn’t touch the nausea. She came in after that and asked if I could try and take a pill and I said I’d try. When she walked in to hand me the pill I was dry heaving so she just turned around and walked out. When she came back in she had another drug. I don’t remember the name of this one but she told me that it would make me drowsy and I was like PUT IT ALL IN RIGHT NOW I WANT TO SLEEP PLEASE MAKE ME SLEEP. When about half the syringe had emptied into my IV she asked me if it hurt since it will cause a burning sensation and I said something along the lines of this:
Me: Oh yeah, I can feel that.
Her: Does it hurt?
Me: I don’t think… it’s not like… I can… it’s going in there but…
Ben: Does it hurt?
Me: I’m… not like… It’s working in there I think it might be like…
Seriously, I don’t even remember her finishing up the syringe or leaving the room.
Apparently at some point while I slept Ben took my picture, a video of me snoring, ate Subway and somebody pulled the fire alarm in the ER. There were sirens and strobe lights and loud speaker announcements and I slept through all of it.
I woke up later because Ben noticed that my blood pressure had fallen way down (think it was just a loose cuff) and he had called a nurse in. It was after 9:00PM. Six hours after the initial appointment and the first time in almost five hours that I wasn’t scared to open my eyes because I knew I’d just start dry heaving all over again. I could finally feel the nausea subsiding. I was released not long after that with a prescription for more anti-nausea medication and a note from the doctor to stay home the next day.
I’m still really sore. My abs hurt more than P90X or Insanity has ever made them feel and my lungs hurt pretty bad. Like, all the time. Apparently this is common after throwing up that much. I’ve read this will last a few more days so I’ve been taking aspirin to help a bit. And I’m tired. I don’t know if my body is still fighting off a minor bug or is just in recovery mode but sleeping has been hard because of the ab/lung pain so I’m looking really forward to this three day weekend!
The worst part of all? They had to discard my donation. I totally get, given my reaction, why they had to but it was a little like pouring salt in the wound. Sucks! I already have an appointment for a donation in a few month though. I’ll make sure not to rush out of the chair again this time and that I’m GOOD AND HEALTHY before going in. It was a HORRIBLE day but not as horrible a day as the person that eventually ends up needing that pint of blood.