The Blood Bank Incident


Last week my darling daughter Rachel asked if I would like to go with her to donate blood.  She donated once before and the blood bank had recently sent her a card letting her know that her blood had gone to a young boy in need.  She was so excited to know that her blood had actually helped and she was looking forward to donating once again.  I know that donating blood is so important and God bless all the people who donate regularly.  That being said, I have never donated blood before and was not totally comfortable doing so.  I remember the blood drives at my high school and seeing my friend’s pass out in the hall after giving blood, so I had a negative impression of the whole process.  But I wanted to do my part to help and seeing Rachel’s enthusiasm spurred me on to give it a try.

We arrived at the blood bank and went through the screening questionnaire and had our iron levels checked.  Mine was only one point above the lowest limit allowed… this should have been my first clue.  We were escorted to the donation area, our arms were prepped and poked and we settled back to wait until our bags were full.   Everything went pretty well until the phlebotomist removed the needle from my arm.  I started getting fidgety and feeling a little queasy, then the room began to close in on me.  The phlebotomist jumped into action with ice packs, juice and a package of Oreo cookies.   After about ten minutes, I felt fine.  The last thing we were told was to be sure and have a hearty meal for dinner.

Well, I hadn’t been shopping lately and the cupboard was a little bare.  There was a Tom Thumb grocery store right next to the blood bank, so we decided to run in and grab a few items for dinner.  When we got to the checkout line Rachel said “Mom, I don’t feel very well, will you go get me a juice?”  I sat her down on the end of the checkout counter and ran through the store trying to find the little bottles of cold juice.  Now, any other time I would have known right where to go, but this time I went from one end of the store to the other, frantically searching for the juice.  I finally found some cold coconut water and ran back up to give it to her.  But then I thought, I better pay for this first.  So I went over the self checkout line and chose to pay by cash, but the stupid thing wouldn’t take my dollar.  I thought, you’ve got to be kidding me!  I took my bill and smoothed it out, then tried again with no luck, then back to smoothing when I heard Rachel say “Mom I can’t see!” I’m panicking, what do I do, what do I do?  After what seems like forever I finally get the damn thing to take my dollar and rush the coconut water over to Rachel.

Here baby, drink this.  “Mom, I’m hot and I can’t see anything.”  I’m thinking, people can’t die from giving blood, can they?  Then I hear “Mom, I’ve got to go to the bathroom… now!”  Well, one thing I know for sure, this Momma is not about to let her baby mess herself in the Tom Thumb checkout line!  So I grab her up and put her hands on the cart and ask one of the cashier’s to help me get her to the restroom.  Rachel can barely stand up, much less walk, and I’m thinking this cashier must think we are drug addicts or something.  I look at her apologetically and say we just gave blood and she is not feeling well.  Meanwhile, Rachel is saying “Mom, I can’t see anything!”

We’re trotting along with the cart, trying to hold Rachel up, but her knees buckle and she starts to go down.  When she does, she hits her knees on the bottom rack of the cart and the jolt brings her back around.  We finally make it to the restroom door and I thank the cashier and let her know I can take it from here.

It’s just a single restroom with the sink right beside the toilet and thank God it was not occupied.  I drag Rachel inside and get her on the toilet with mere seconds to spare.  She is teetering on the toilet and I have to hold her up with one hand while running cold water in the sink and trying to splash her face with the other.  After a minute I hear her say “I feel better, I can see again.”  I say, great why don’t you go sit down in the lounge and drink the rest of your coconut water.

As soon as she is out of the door, I begin to feel weird and hot all over.  I strip off my hoodie and begin splashing water on my face and even drinking water right out of the bathroom faucet.  Normally, I would NEVER drink water in a bathroom, but I’ve since discovered that you will do the most unusual things when you think you’re about to die.  Unfortunately, the water doesn’t help and I begin to slowly nod out. The last thing I remember thinking is, I look like one of those junkies on Intervention right after they shoot up with heroin.  Then I slide into darkness.

After a minute or two I come back around and to my horror I’m sitting in a wet puddle.  Yes people, I had wet my pants!  Now this is the first time in my entire adult life that I have ever wet my pants.  Even in my younger heavy partying, passing out drunk days, I never wet my pants for Pete’s sake.  So, as I am struggling to get to my feet, the door suddenly opens.  There stands some strange lady looking at me with this awful shocked expression on her face, I think she actually gasped.  I’m sure I was quite a sight, with my wet face and hair, mascara running down my cheeks, wearing a white wife beater, with my hoodie thrown in a heap on the floor and a big wet spot on my jeans.  Poor lady, I bet she thought, wow, this store has really gone down hill!

I put myself together as best as I could, wrapped my hoodie around my waist to hide my shame and go out to collect Rachel.  As we are walking out to the parking lot we turned to each other and in perfect unison say “I’m never giving blood again!”  I follow with “I hope I don’t get mouth herpes from drinking out of the bathroom faucet.  To which Rachel replies “Yeah, and we better find another place to shop.”  We hug each other and begin laughing hysterically, thankful we survived and happy to have yet another crazy memory to look back on.


18 responses »

  1. OMG – what a horror story! I’ve never given blood but if I was thinking about, I’ve quit that nonsense! How in the world could it make you go blind? Dizzy – I get it – but blind? I hope you are both still o.k. and there are no residual side effects. Did you report your reactions to the blood bank people? Thanks for sharing this. The nicest part is the wonderful bond you have with your daughter.

    • It really scared me at the time, but I’ve since learned that it’s perfectly normal and fairly common. You lose your vision because your visual system and brain take a lot of oxygen to keep working. Since Rachel is so tiny and a vegetarian, her blood pressure dropped and it took a bigger toll on her than most people. I think I would have been fine if I hadn’t ran around the store in a panic. It was quite an experience and I’m glad we can laugh about it now.

  2. Have you checked with your Dr.? You both may be hyperglycemic or something. I know it is important and life saving to give blood, but I could not do it. I come close to fainting when I give those little viles at the Dr.!

    • I think it was just one of those freak things, we’re both healthy and fit. It maybe because we don’t eat meat and our iron levels were just not high enough to safely donate. Thanks for your concern, that’s so sweet of you, and I love your blog!

  3. Lori!!

    Oh my, goodness. What a horribly traumatic day. To not only be feeling like you’re on the cusp on death, but fearing for you daughter’s health all the while. I have had this experience, blacked out in a bathroom stall, though not from donating blood. But when your daughter said “I can’t see.” I knew just what she was feeling. It’s the scariest feeling in all the world . . .

    It saddens me that while doing something inherently Good and so needed, that you came away with the experience determining to never to do it again. . . I completely understand and would likely be of the same mind. I just wonder if they would have taken better care of you both, or had you come back when your levels looked better, perhaps the experience wouldn’t have gone as awfully. I have a g/f who gives blood regularly and this has never happened to her. Never having given blood myself, I know very little, but I can imagine that there needs to be the utmost caution and care when draining one of blood. So very, very sorry, my friend.

    Praying today is much better!

    • Cara,

      Thank you sweet girl! It’s really hilarious now, but at the time… not so much! We both recovered completely by the next day and were no worse for the wear. I think sometimes I get too big for my britches and every once in a while God has to give me a lesson in humility. I’m thankful for those lessons, they keep me grounded and make me appreciate all the blessings in my life that I tend to take for granted.

      Thanks again for your prayers and concern!
      Have a blessed week!


  4. everybody should have a cause or charity of some kind. my daughter belongs to a group that organizes food and clothing drives to bring to the homeless in philadelphia during the winter. mine is giving blood, which i learned from my father. i go about every three months or so. they call me if i haven’t donated in a while, and they’ll read a list of blood drives in my area.

    you had a sad, nasty experience, but don’t give up because of that. there are things you could have done beforehand that would have helped, but obviously you didn’t know. the day before, have a nice juicy burger or a steak. drink a lot of orange juice that morning. after you donate, they usually have water or cookies or pretzels, and they invite you to relax and have some before you leave. but if you have something before you go, then it’s like drawing water from a full well, not a half empty well.

    i hope you’ll give it another shot, and i hope you’ll do those thing before, and also – just in case – let someone else drive, and go straight home after.

    • I think everything we could have possibly done wrong, we did! It was the “perfect storm” of blood donations. LOL! We are both rather small women who do not eat meat, and probably not the best candidates to donate. But I may actually try again. Thank you for the information and for being a donor. It is a wonderful thing to do! If I do donate again, I will definitely take your advice!

      Peace and Blessings!


  5. That is absolutely the strangest thing! I used to donate blood every time the blood bank called, but I never had any kind of reaction at all. That’s just too scary. Stay out of the Blood Bank and get some iron supplements. I started to advise staying out of that Tom Thumb, but you’re probably blacklisted there anyway. You write so well. This story is wonderful and funny. It was a “page turner”, as they say, all the way to the end!

    • George, Thank you for the compliment, it means so much! I come from a family of story tellers. Most of our stories are usually highly exaggerated and either funny, embarrassing or someone comes close to dying. I hope I did my family proud with this one. 🙂

  6. You are so hilarious! I really wish you lived next door.

    I used to give blood, but after having my three sons my iron was too low, and although I took iron pills and added molasses and liver,among other foods to my diet, I could not get my level up high enough. A couple of months ago my husband was going in to give blood so I bravely decided to do so,too. This time my iron was high enough, but because I had melanoma several years ago, I found out I can never give it again!

    Thanks for this very detailed account!

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