Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blood Donation

  More on this video at the end:

I donated blood the other day, as I've done for years.  Here in Franklin Co., PA, there are probably 20 drives per month, so my donation location often varies so I can hit a drive at the most convenient time and place for me.

This particular blood drive was at a rural Christian school.  Based upon the plain long dresses of the women volunteers, the school belongs to a conservative sect, likely Mennonite. But unlike more traditional Mennonite women whose hair is in a bun with a small lace cover, these women wore more of a white scarf over their hair.

Anyway, I'm a creature of habit.  Whenever I donate blood I observe certain rituals:

  • Food. Pre- and post-donation I love to eat fried chicken livers to enhance my hemoglobin.  Whether it works or not, blood donation is an excuse to indulge in this vice.
  • Endorphins. I imagine I am sharing endorphins, since my usual schedule these days is to run at lunchtime and donate in the early afternoon.
  • Time off. I take full advantage of the fact that my employer (U.S. govt) encourages blood donation by extending up to 4 hours paid administrative leave when you donate.
  • Ears vs fingers.To me, the pre-donation finger stick to check for sufficient hemoglobin levels is worse than the actual arm stick with the (much larger) donation needle. I hate the finger stick intensely, and long for the old days when they stuck your ear lobe and drew a drop of blood from there.
And last, but not least:
  • Reading material (choose it wisely!). I always take a book along in case there is a wait. A couple years ago I took along a copy of The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins).  The tech in the pre-donation interview conversationally asked "Whatcha readin'?" and when I showed her the book, I could instantly see a light go on, face darken, and a big change in her formerly friendly demeanor.  Thank goodness she wasn't the one who was going to stick me in the arm!

One final observation about this drive.  Somebody had a boom box playing...symphonic music, and it was soooo soothing and beautiful.  Must have been a CD of well-known classical music, for I instantly recognized the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker. 

I idly wondered how a species like ours could on one hand create such musical and dance masterpieces, while at the same time becoming so good at creating engines of war. 

Then the Jethro Tull line sprang to mind, "He who made kittens put snakes in the grass," and I kinda felt that if one believes in the Christian God, creator of man in his image, then the dichotomy makes perfect sense.


  1. One of the strangest things about living in Bolivia is the number of Mennonites with whom one crosses paths. Yesterday there were four, dressed precisely as you describe here, on the observation deck of the Viru Viru Airport in Santa Cruz where I had taken my son to, "Mira Aviones..."

  2. Jay, Mennonites and other conservative sects are common where I live, and it is true that they are widespread across the globe.

    Locally some embrace technology and others, for example, use horse & buggy instead of autos. Those who do use autos usually choose the color black.

    blog owner

  3. Very useful info. Hope to see more posts soon!