After years of squeamishness, it’s time to bleed by example
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After years of squeamishness, it’s time to bleed by example

Minivan Momologues

Embarrassing but true, I’m smack in the middle of my 40s — that’s not the embarrassing part, FYI — and I only just donated blood for the first time.

I can’t believe I waited so long.

Like a lot of people, I’m no fan of needles. Also, I’m still traumatized by the fact that once I had blood drawn, and the vial stopped filling halfway through.

“Huh,” the phlebotomist said at the time, calmly switching arms. I was not so calm. In fact, it freaked me out enough to avoid voluntary bloodletting for all these years.

But when I heard the Bloodmobile was going to be right there in the parking lot at work at the same time I was, how could I not? I decided to just suck it up. Well, let the Red Cross suck it up, actually.

I made a point of telling the kids what I was doing and why. Good citizen indoctrination starts early with toddler basic training — no smearing boogers on walls, no going to the bathroom wherever you want — and then progresses into stuff like this, that it’s everyone’s responsibility to positively contribute to society, even if it’s a small thing because little gestures make a difference, too. So don’t be a weenie about a needle.

The day of my appointment, I chose my outfit carefully, nothing constricting, all-natural fabrics. I did a spin in front of my husband. “I’m wearing an outfit that’s comfortable to pass out in — just in case.”

When my appointment time rolled around, I strolled up to the Bloodmobile, ready to bleed. The giant RV reminded me of the fancy-dancy Barbie camper that had a hallowed place in the corner of our playroom for many, many years. Except, the Bloodmobile wasn’t pink and purple and didn’t have a big-screen TV or a blowup pool or even a pop-up roof with adjustable hammock. (Barbie does my kind of camping.) And, of course, the Barbiemobile didn’t have recliners equipped with pull-out armrests or bags full of blood. Wait, the Bloodmobile is nothing like the Barbie RV (say that three times fast). Why did it remind me so much of a Barbie toy? Ah yes. That’s right — the smell. They both share that same eau de Mattel, which is the distinct aroma of Band-Aids.

After filling out forms which asked if I was on these medications that I recognized from those rare occasions when I don’t fast-forward through the commercials on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” it was time to get pumped. The bloodletting went fast, which I credit to the hard-driving heavy metal music pounding through the RV. That probably gets blood flowing much faster than Barry Manilow plus it doesn’t trigger the gag reflex. Naturally, I took a selfie with the needle stuck in my arm and another pic of my donation, which I immediately texted to my oldest child.

And for my exceedingly minimal time and effort, I received a snack-bag of mini Oreos, well, two bags actually but it was an accident, I swear, and a profound sense of satisfaction — for not passing out and for knowing that such a small contribution could very well make a huge difference. According to the thank-you phone call from the Red Cross, my donation could save up to three lives.

No. 3 even informed me he wants to be a blood donor. Parenting mission accomplished.

As an added bonus, I was armed with the best excuse ever to park myself on the couch all evening, not getting up to let the dogs in and out or even to make dinner: “Sorry, I’m replenishing my red blood cells.”

Contact Kristen Cook at kcook@tucson.com or 573-4194. On Twitter: @kcookski. If the biggest wimp in Tucson can donate blood, you can, too. Find out more at

redcross.org/give-blood

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