Wellness & Lifestyle

More Than Blood

I only have one question for you: “Am I going to die?”

“You got 24 hours, son.”

I consider myself a pretty healthy person, if not for the occasional cookie or bagel. I’ve helped my Asian family to shun white rice for whole grains (my 2-year-old cousin nicknames me Benedict Arnold). I can’t go without salmon for too long, and I’ve peeled enough unripe avocados to be a war veteran. I also do tons of track conditioning and yoga weekly. You’d think I’d be able to survive a blood transfer, right? I would, too.

Here, I enter the Alumni House, which is hosting the American Red Cross Blood drive. My desire to donate blood began as an impulse, and then grew into a valiant thought and, finally, into a meaningful perception of adversity. I’ve never donated blood before—more from just ignorance than fear or inability. Yes, I’m a first-time donor. I excitedly peeled the wax off my green “I Make a Difference” sticker, placed it right above my heart, and started hydrating.

That’s when I met The Master. That’s what everyone calls him. He was indeed The Master, gleefully singing tunes with his tenor vocals and joking about my “superb” chances of survival. All the while, he was preparing to jab me with a 2-inch needle with the diameter to threaten even a tarantula. I can’t say it was the most pain-free experience. I’ve got the scars to show for it.

A nurse first pricked my middle finger with a needle to get a few drops of my blood, and I flinched in pain. The Master then prepared to thrust the blood-sucker into my arm, and I watched the sharp blade pierce through my skin and into my bulging artery. Every time The Master asked me to squeeze a rubber ball, I felt jolts of pain inside my elbow. The result: dark red fluid flowing into a pouch that said, “Volunteer Blood.”

I’m still recovering from my experience—not physically, but mentally. I feel different now. I’ve always tried to avoid blood: it’s a silly thing to say, but I consider my blood as part of my identity. Literally watching volumes of my blood flow out of my arm and into a pouch to eventually end up in a patient or a test tube has changed how I see myself.

Maybe it’s the memory of the throbbing of my elbow or The Master jesting, “Is that where it’s supposed to go?”, but my experience donating blood constantly strikes at my consciousness. I view my body differently now because I now understand how something so personal and distinctive to me can be used to help others in need. I’m going to continue to maximize my health, and it’s not only for me or my body, but it’ll be for those that need it in the future.

Currently, I’m a first-time donor, but not a last.

Article by Telly Cheung

Feature Image Source: The Medical Futurist