Friday, June 11, 2010
Ready, Set, Action!
I guzzled water and ate some greens to boost my iron while I waited impatiently for the blood drive to begin.
An hour later, before I left, OP Web Editor Steve Frye asked me if I wanted my blood donation to be videotaped for our website. I enthusiastically said yes, and moments later regretted my decision.
I chose print journalism for a reason. Why had I just said yes? I hadn't glammed myself up in anyway, and wasn't exactly "camera ready."
As I headed next door to the First Presbyterian Church of Pontiac with my gal pal and videographer Jacquelyn Gutc, we laughed about how I was now more nervous to be on camera than I was to actually donate blood.
We arrived at the church, headed to the basement and were greeted with a musty odor and the sight of nurses milling around tending to donors. I signed in and sat down to read a booklet. The text is standard for all blood donors, but some things just made me laugh. Why would I donate if I knew I was HIV positive?
Soon after, I met with the nurse who pricked my finger. My iron levels were barely above the minimum to donate. Thank you vegetables! After a few questions and a quick computer questionnaire, I headed over and met a scruffy-bearded nurse who did not want to share the limelight with me. In fact, he barely spoke to me, instead gabbing on the phone and giving me hand signals for what he wanted me to do.
"I never played baseball, I don't get your signs," I snapped. Undeterred, he continued talking. I have to give him credit for one thing — he hit the vein on the first time and I have no bruising today.
While my blood bags filled up, Jacquelyn kept me laughing and even took notes on my reactions. The role reversal felt strange. All I could think was that I should have been holding the pen and notebook.
In college, my first assignment was to interview and photograph the local blood drive. After five minutes into an interview, the donor passed out. I jumped up and took a photo. As the nurses glared at me and demanded that I not use the photo, I knew that I had become the devil. Perhaps journalism did choose me.
This time, I told Jacquelyn if I passed out to keep filming, though I doubt she would have. Heck, I made her shoot from two angles to give me the illusion of a chin, but even skillful editing couldn't produce one.
After she put the camera down, I looked at her face and eyes bugging out.
"Wow, it's filling up fast."
When I looked over, two bags of blood were nearly full. I couldn't wait to be off the table.
Afterward, a different nurse taped me up and I headed over for juice and cookies — by far the best part of the experience. We chatted it up with a nice volunteer and other donors. I did feel a little lightheaded, and had a hard time concentrating on writing down an interview with Maria Sayre.
"S-A-Y-A-R-E," I asked for the second time.
Maria told me that there is a greater need for blood in the summertime because donors come in less frequently. As a retired nurse, she also has a passion for volunteering at drives.
"It's a pleasure and an honor to still assist in some way in the medical profession."
Check out local blood drives in your area at http://www.redcrossblood.org/