Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Nurse Betty Bipolar and the Hundred Questions

Last night I went to do my civic duty and give blood. I used to give pretty regularly, but slacked off in law school (I know, shocker), so I'm trying to get back in the groove - it's also one of the things on my 101 in 1001 list.

It's always hit or miss at the Red Cross on E Street: either everyone's friendly and happy to see you, or they're all cranky and tired and yell at you for not squeezing your little ball often enough. Last night was the latter.

I read my "No One Will Look At You With Knowing Glances, We Promise, If You Choose To Leave Now" brochure and was given a number to wait for the nurse to do the pre-lim screening. If you haven't given blood before, the pre-lim is where a nurse takes your blood pressure, pulse, temp, and pricks your finger to check your iron; they also ask you a standard 80 point questionaire about your travel, health, and sexual histories.

For once my iron was good. Usually the nurse and I both stare at the little drop in the blue liquid as it sinks slowly, then, just when I think I'm in the clear, it makes a u-turn and heads for high water. If that happens, they've got to put it in the spinny thing. Both my mom and I are turned away at regular intervals for low metal, but this time the globule sunk like a lead ballon. Or, I guess, an iron one. Must have been the two bagels I had yesterday. (What? They were free.) And bagels have a sick iron count, as everyone knows. Or maybe that's carbs. I always forget.

Anyway, I'm not kidding about getting Nurse Betty Bipolar. One minute she was trying to gab with me about my fingernails and where I got them done (I don't), because she was growing hers out for her wedding, and the next minute she's yelling at me that I'm lying about my weight. Or laughing at me about my sexual history. No, I'm not kidding, and yes, I'll explain.

NBB: How much do you weigh?
Me: 145.
NBB: What?? That can't be right.
Me: Uhhh...well, 140-145.
NBB: There's no way. I mean, I'll "believe" you, but - no.
Me: (mouth agape) ......

I mean, wtf was that? It took me awhile to figure out if she thought I was shooting high or low, because she wasn't very clear. Finally she said, "There's no way you weigh that much." Which, first of all, I was telling the truth, so thanks bitch, I guess I'm just a huge cow then. Second, why would she think I'd lie and say I was fatter than I actually am? I mean, that's way over how much you need to give blood, so that seems a little insane. People don't walk around telling people they weigh 40 pounds more than they really do. Well. Except my friend T, who routinely tells people, "God! I weigh 300 pounds!!" But I'm not an anorexic gay man. I am, in fact, a straight woman. I'm supposed to be telling people I weigh 115.

My roommate had the perfect response: "I hate it when strangers think they can have personal conversations with you like that. I mean, what business is it of yours how much I really weigh and why do you suddenly think you deserve to hear some sort of secret I'm hiding?" Yes, exactly. Like what was I supposed to do, explain to her how "no, I really can weigh that much, bring me a scale and I'll show you how fat I am!"

A minute later when she stuck the thermometer in my mouth she mumbled mostly to herself, like she was tying to solve special relatively in her spare time, "Well, I guess you are pretty tall." Ding! Ding! Ding! Thanks for playing 'How Can She Be Such a Big Fucking Mammoth?' Free door prizes for everyone.

Then, when she asked for my hand to stick my finger, I gave her my left, because the needle often leaves a bruise and I'm right-handed. (They use the side of your middle finger, where you'd hold a pen.) She pushed my hand off the table and said, "No, give me your right hand, I can't do it on left hands yet." Awesome. There is nothing I love better than getting a nurse-in-training. (A rude nurse-in-training.) Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled there are people in the world who want to do that job, but it's my nerve-endings that get the brunt of the learning-process here.

Let's get to the fun part: The questionaire. She started talking so fast I could barely understand her, but since I knew most of the questions already it wasn't too hard to keep up with her Micro Machines commercial voice.

She asked me if I'd been out of the US any time in the last three years. I said yes and prepared to give her my short list, though as a preface I said, "Well, I haven't been anywhere since the last time I gave blood, so just Athe--"

Suddenly she whips her head around from the computer screen like a nun who heard giggling during Psalms, shoots me eyes of death, and screeches, "WELL WE DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THOSE RECORDS SO YOU HAVE TO TELL ME ALL OF IT."

Me, again: (mouth agape) .....Whoa. Yeah. I was trying to.

Obviously the neurons were flashing and dying a little too fast in her head for me to keep up with the mood of the moment. She instantly calmed and let me give her my list. Then we got to the best moment of all.

NBB: "44. Have you ever slept with anyone who was born in or ever resided in Africa?"

Except that it came out sounding like this: "FordyforhaveUevaslepwitany1hoowasbornNoevaresidedNfrica?"

I'm pretty sure this is a new question, so I couldn't match her mumblings with my stored databank, like I was doing for the rest of them. I guess I paused a little too long as I was deciphering before saying, "Uh.....no," because then she started laughing at me. Laughing. About my sexual history for pete's sake. "Oh, you really had to think about that one didn't you!" I swear to god I thought she was going to say, "Guess we better check yes under Have you ever had jungle fever? Ha HA!!"

Dude. Whatever happened to discretion? God only knows what would have gone down had I had to tell her something that was actually questionable.

This conversation was immediately followed with, "I love your shirt, where'd you get it?"

Between the mood swings and the nail, clothes, weight and sex gossip, I was really worried she was going to start giggling, strip down to her undies and start a pillow fight with me. Shouldn't we at least get a carton of ice cream to share while this is going on? Would we get to crank call someone next? Was she going to get angry again and call her mom to come pick her up?

Anyway, I high-tailed it out of there and thankfully had another nurse who took my blood. Which went fine until my arm wouldn't stop bleeding.

And I get to do it all over again in eight weeks!


At 9:21 PM, January 24, 2006, Anonymous jake said...

You know I don't like to take pleasure in the misfortune of others....who am I kidding, of course I do.

Sorry it was such an ordeal, but it makes for such a good story. And nice reference w/ the Micromachines commercial...

At 9:46 PM, January 24, 2006, Blogger cg-c said...

Sounds like she forgot to take her meds.

At least you stuck it out. Ha...stuck it out... sorry, lame joke, blame it on moving stress. Point being: at least you sat through her badgering and gave your blood. Props for that.

At 9:59 PM, January 24, 2006, Blogger G. said...

What is it with asking those questions, anyway? Why don't they just give you a form to fill out? Do they think they'll be able to tell if you're lying if they ask you to your face or something?

At 10:13 PM, January 24, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

Hey, my blog was created for the specifically for others to take enjoyment from my pain. Remember the bar? Anyone?

GG - Actually they used to let you do it yourself. I'm not sure what changed. Maybe because some of the questions you actually need to say "yes" to and it became clear everyone was just marking "no" all the way down the sheet without reading. Who knows. There are a lot of new Q's, too, like now I have to explain that I was a military brat for part of the 80's.

At 9:57 AM, January 25, 2006, Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

uggghhh...I have a phobia about needles and I got the heebie jeebies just reading about that one.

At 7:31 PM, January 25, 2006, Blogger Roonie said...

I'm glad you went through with it, too. I guess when you make up your mind to do it, you might as well...despite the personnel roadblocks. I haven't given blood since 2L year; I suppose I ought to, I have O+ blood.


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