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

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

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News