The pinch of the needle stung my arm, but the discomfort was nothing compared to watching my blood slowly drain from my body and flow into a little clear bag hanging above my head. I was immediately nauseated. Turning away, I tried to breathe slowly and focus on the small details of the room. After the bag filled, my arm throbbed with pain. The nurse had stuck the needle through my vein and for the next two weeks, my arm resembled various shades of blue that faded to the color of a bruised banana skin – browns and yellows comingling from wrist to bicep.
I have only donated blood once, and that was only because it was a class-sponsored blood drive in high school and I was obligated to go. Nearly a decade later, I will brave it again. Donating time for an organization takes planning and sometimes physical labor, but it’s usually fun. Contemplating giving blood again and the memory of that bruised arm, however, makes me physically ill.
I’d like to volunteer with drives for the American Red Cross, but I don’t think I can do that unless I am willing to donate myself. So, as part of the project, I am going to face my fear and do it again. I just hope the end result isn’t as colorful as the last time.
The American Red Cross hosts blood drives in communities nearby every week. I seeks both blood donors, and volunteers to help run the drives. Visit http://www.redcrossblood.org to find a location to donate in your area.