Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The $200 Pint of Blood

Genius has valuable blood. It's going for $200 a pint.

National Honor Society held their blood drive today. As a member, Genius stepped up to the plate to donate for the very first time. I commend him. He is averse to needles. When he brought me the consent form, I asked if he was sure he wanted to donate. Indeed. He was. I warned him that he might be tired for a couple of days afterward. That's how it makes me feel.

Each time he passed down the hallway, I asked him if he had changed his mind. Nope. He stopped in for a bottle of water. I told him he needed to stay hydrated. And that I needed a case of water carried in after school. "Better have The Pony do it," he recommended, "because we know I won't be able to for a couple of days."

I asked if he wore a white shirt today so the spray of ruby red droplets would be noticeable should there be a bloodletting accident. Ha ha. I'm very funny.

I overheard a friend of his saying that he, too, was a bit scared, and that he was going to turn his head away from the needle. He's a righty, and Genius is a lefty. So I suggested that they choose side-by-side gurneys, and gaze into each other's eyes for moral support. Crikey! You would think I had suggested they hold hands and pledge to be heterosexual life partners. Apparently, giving blood together is a no-no on the list of Unwritten Culture Rules of Sixteen-Year-Old Males.

I saw other NHS workers in the hall, and asked if Genius had gone under the needle yet. Negative. But he was sitting in a chair, waiting. The school day ended. Here came Genius, bounding down the hall like Juno bounds across the back porch each morning. But without the saliva and the whipping tail. He had a criss-cross of red stretchy tap across his inner elbow.

"When did you do it?"

"I just got done."

"Do you feel okay? Shouldn't you be sitting down?"

"I'm fine."

"Did you have juice and cookies?"


"Does it hurt?"


"Did it bother you to think that the needle was in your arm that whole time?"

"Not really. I was fine until she took it out, and another nurse came over and said, 'You took too much.'"

"Oh! They were just kidding you."

"I don't think so."

Genius strutted away, high on life or relief. I had a standing date with the Kyocera. A couple of students dropped in the teacher workroom, as they are wont to do after hours. It's a losing battle, really. Not worth fighting without backup. They chatted about Genius and the overflowing pint. Seems that the nurse really DID take too much blood. As they tried to squeeze it from the tube into the bag, it overflowed. I suppose a person of literary ilk might equate that revelation with foreshadowing. But ol' bumblin' Val went on her merry way.

The Pony and I left school, making sure to leave my classroom door unlocked so Genius could get his stuff when his shift was over at 6:00. We ran a few errands and around 5:00, we headed out of Backroads towards home. My phone rang. I was on the prison section of road, where it becomes curvy-wurvy and requires two hands. I told The Pony to answer.

"It's Genius."


"Mom, I'm going to let the lady explain it to you."

"Ma'am? I'm with the Red Cross. Your son Genius donated blood today. And we need to notify you that there's been a complication."

"I'm sorry. I'm driving right now, and I need to find a place to pull off the road."

"You go right ahead, Ma'am. We're notifying you that he needs to be treated, and we need your permission to do that."

The next place to pull off was our county road turn-off. So I drove one-handed until I could whip in for a U-turn. "What's wrong with him?"

"He says that his arm is purple and cold, and he has tingling in his fingers. Do you give permission to treat him?"

"Yes. What does he need?"

"We recommend that he gets checked out at a hospital."

"Okay. Are you going to do that, or should I take him? It will take me thirty minutes to get back there. Can you do it faster?"

"Oh, he's okay. I'll check with my supervisor on that." She gave the phone back to Genius.

"Am I supposed to come get you?"

"She's checking."

"I'm on my way, but we were almost home. It will take a while. I'm going to call your dad. I'll call you back to see who's taking you."

Hick had just left work, and declared that he would meet me and take Genius to the good hospital after I picked him up. By that, he meant the hospital he uses, not the one that let me wake up in the middle of surgery. I called Genius back.

"Are they taking you to the hospital?"

"I don't know. She hasn't come back."

"Well, I kind of need to know, because I'm approaching the turn-off point for coming after you, or meeting you at the hospital."

"I guess you should just come get me. And don't make a scene. The one who took my blood is really nice."

"I want to know what's going on."

"Well, I was walking around with everybody else, and someone said, 'Hey, your arm is purple!' And I looked at it, and it was really purple, and cold. I took off the bandage, because time was up, and I massaged it and put my hand in my armpit, and it got warmer and not as purple, but the minute I took it out, it went back to being cold and purple. So I went to tell the people, and one said, 'Oh, she just put the tape on too tight. We'll fix you up. Let's take it all the way off.' Then they checked on me a couple of times, and my hand was still purple and cold. So they called you."

"I'm on the way. I'll park out front."

As soon as I arrived, his old girlfriend met me outside and said, "If you don't mind me asking, what's wrong with Genius?" I explained the pertinent facts and went in. The principal and his wife greeted me. "I don't know what's wrong with your son, but I've never seen anything like it. His hand feels like he just pulled it out of a snowbank. You might want to get that checked out."

I found Genius alone amidst a mob of paper-pushers, pizza-eaters, blood-givers, and do-nothings. They played bureaucratic pass-the-buck, and directed me to a supervisor. Down the table from her, I spied a doc that I used to utilize, and bypassed her for him. She threw up her hands and said, "It's ME you're supposed to talk to."

I gave her a dismissive wave. I figured at most, she could be an RN. And the last time I played mental medical personnel poker, a doctor trumped a nurse. "I know him." She was none too happy as the doc looked at the hands of Genius, put him through some motions, and said there was not too much discrepancy in the color of the hands. I was relieved to see for myself.

I turned to the supervisor. "Is there anything I need to know? Anything I need to sign?"

"No. He can go."

These Red Cross people did not seem nearly so caring as the actors who portray them in commercials providing laundry facilities to disaster victims. I took my boy and left, walking the gauntlet of well-wishers spouting "Get some feeling!" and "Good luck, bud. I'm praying for you." They're a tight-knit group.

Hick took over the unofficial ambulance run. I warned Genius that he would be low on the ER totem pole. "They'll take heart attacks before you, and burn victims, and people bleeding from the ears." He was resigned to a long wait, and worried about his homework for tomorrow. I told him I thought that could be worked out. Not every teacher there is as unreasonable as I am.

About two hours later, Hick called to report that after he forked over $200, the ER personnel decreed that Genius had a simple case of Raynaud's Syndrome, likely caused by the cold weather and stress. Um. Stress, maybe. But inside that school all day was not cold weather exposure. It seems funny to me that this is the first time Genius has had the problem, coincidentally immediately after donating blood. But I'm not a doctor. Or a Red Cross bloodmobile supervisor.

Nor do I have blood worth $200 per pint.


Linda O'Connell said...

Unbelievable! Glad he's functioning again. That had to be scary.

Sioux said...

Is the Red Cross ponying up the money for that ER visit?

I used to give platelets at a local Red Cross (I get too whoozy when donating whole blood) but having had several "problems," I now give platelets at one our major hospitals. I have difficult veins to find, they're full of pesky valves, which necessitates constantly adjusting the needle and tubing. Some of the problems involved them digging around with a needle, trying to find a vein (and being callous about it) and needing to do multiple sticks to hit a well. I've never had a problem at the hospital, thankfully.

Val Thevictorian said...

Yeah. Especially the part where they called and asked permission to treat him for a complication, but never did anything.

I doubt it. I'm sure it's needed to buy trailers for people who fake losses in disasters.

I have been uncomfortable donating blood through the Red Cross ever since that time my blood-sucker asked me what a single gal such as myself did for fun around these parts. It sounded too much like a pick-up line. The wink didn't help. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But she could at least have waited to pursue me in the Save A Lot, rather than when I was flat on my back, tethered to a blood bag.

I replied, "Take a look around. This is pretty much it." City folk just can't comprehend the vast wasteland that is Backroads.