I can’t help but think of those of us who willingly donate blood as the real-world equivalent of True Blood‘s “fangbangers”. Fans of the show might wonder (as I do) why anyone would willingly allow themselves to be bitten by blood-thirsty vampires. And yet we donors do the essentially the same thing, allowing bureaucratic vampires to drain us of our blood. Of course, the blood we give goes to a good cause, “saves lives” as the Red Cross tells us. The blood the fictional vampires drink, well, I don’t know what actually happens to that, maybe it’s metabolized and then, you know, ends up in a plumbing system somewhere.
Every time I give blood (I do so 2-3 times/year), I feel like it’s a bad idea. I wake up on the morning of the donation knowing that I’m going to feel like crap sitting in that chair as the life force is drained from me, and feeling even worse when it is all done, that light-headed, tingly, slightly nauseated feeling that lingers for an hour or so. I do it because, I’m told, it saves lives and my blood type is one that is always needed. But I really don’t like doing it. This isn’t an attempt to gain sympathy, to have people say to me, “You’re so brave for doing this despite hating it.” Bravery has nothing to do with it. The sight of blood doesn’t bother me. Feeling it drain from my body does, and the rational side of my brain repeatedly urges me to give up the charade and stop donating because it’s just too uncomfortable.
But then I think that maybe one day, Zachary will need blood. Or Kelly. And that there’s someone else out there, like me, who hates the process, but does it anyway, and that their blood might help Zach or Kelly when they need it most. It’s a rationalization and a pretty lame justification, I suppose, but I’m just sentimental enough to fall for it, and so I continue to donate blood, despite the sickly feeling it gives me. And when the Red Cross shows up here at the office next time, I’ll once again be first in line, like I was today.