Word Count: 499
By Peg Scarano
I was 24 years old; married for two years; had a decent job in the purchasing department at the
hospital; and some great friends. The marriage was sailing on smooth seas after several months
of riding turbulent waves through frequent, but short-lived storms. I felt good about myself, but
perhaps life had now become a bit mundane and unchallenging.
It was a routine day at work. I was plugging in numbers (manually as computers were not yet
invented) when my phone rang. “Hi! This is Peggy. How may I help you?” It was a co-worker
from the lab sounding rather desperate. “Peg, we have a patient in ICU who is in immediate
need of B+ blood and there is none currently available. Can you help us?” “I don’t know where
to get blood. That’s your job.” “No, you don’t understand. YOU have B+ blood and we’d like
YOU to volunteer to donate for this patient.”
How did they know I had B+ blood? Did I even know I had B+ blood? Whatever, here was a
chance to be a hero and add excitement to my life. How hard could it be? I agreed and reported
to the ER for the procedure with a smile on my face and a strut in my stride. I was asked to lie
on a stretcher and relax. Pretty easy so far! Nurse Nancy came over holding the biggest needle I
had ever seen in my life. It was the size of a garden hose! “What’s that for?” I inquired
unsteadily. Nurse Nancy smiled and stated “This is how we collect blood.” Oh, God. After
countless palpitations, long, loud sighs, search parties seeking a vein and me nearly soiling
myself, they got the needle in my arm. It was awful.
It seemed years passed by before Nurse Nancy strolled over to say, “Oh, dear.” That didn’t
sound good. “What’s the matter?” Apparently, my veins gave up ½ a pint and then closed their
doors. That meant they had to put another garden hose in my other arm. It was horrifying.
Finally, my veins gave up the other ½ pint and the hose was released. As I sat up, my head
whirled, my eyes rolled and I temporarily left this world. The next thing I recall, Nurse Nancy
was forcing orange juice down my throat. Unknown to her, orange juice makes me sick. I
proceeded to expel gastrointestinal material from my mouth making a horrible mess everywhere.
I was so embarrassed.
For my valiant efforts I was told I could go to the coffee shop for free toast. Since my stomach
was definitely empty and nothing is ever free at the hospital, I took them up on the offer.
On my way home, I stopped by ICU to ask how the patient who needed blood was doing. There
was a pregnant pause before I was told he had passed away shortly after receiving what was
supposed to be life-saving fluids. So much for my heroism.