I gave blood in Sweden!
Like probably just about everyone else, I just don't think about giving blood. I know that it is a great thing to do. I've heard that here in Stockholm there is a massive shortage of blood, so it is very important that people donate some of that good blood. My past experiences with giving blood haven't been so good. Throughout my time in the military I was "volunTOLD" to give blood. I still felt good about myself afterwards (which is most important), but not as good as I would have felt if I took initiative and donated on my own free will.
Then there's the process. I'm not a big fan of needles. Volunteering to give blood is also volunteering to have some nurse probe into my veins with a needle that grows in size as it gets closer to my arm. I also happen to have blood that flows at the speed of maple syrup. This means I just sit there with a foreign object in my arm for even longer than people that got there after me. I cringe at the thought of it. Not to mention the time I tried to flirt with the nurse and then reflexively farted when she stuck the needle in my arm. We were all embarrassed by the situation (yes the other donors heard my fart), but I couldn't let the moment pass. I broke the silence with a poetic admission:
- Oop! I farted.
So yeah, my experiences with donating blood haven't been the most fun. Enter Bro-in-law with his bright ideas! He was excited about the fact that he was going to give blood. He told me about the shortage in Sweden and said that I need to join him. I thought it would be forgotten eventually so I agreed. He didn't forget. He also knows that I'm on paternity leave. I had no way out. I'd have to concentrate on not farting and then sit there in discomfort for 20 hours or however long my maple syrup blood took to creep into that empty bag that keeps rotating up and down while not filling up fast enough. Thanks Bro-in-law!
The day came. I tried to talk my way out of it, but he wasn't having it. I told myself that it was a good thing anyway. I should be glad that I'm able to be a productive member of society. But was it really worth my discomfort? We got there and I had to fill out a questionnaire. That was one of my small victories for that day. It was in Swedish and I completed it with no problems. Bravo!
They called me back to talk with a nurse. We were to go over my questionnaire. Our conversation was in Swedish and very friendly until I picked up on the fact that this lady was quizzing me on my Swedish! I was so offended. Lady, I just filled out the questionnaire in Swedish and I've told you that I gave blood in the Air Force, what is the problem? She was trying to be certain that I "understood what I was doing". I thought there was a shortage! Do you want my blood or not, lady? I was tempted to leave without giving blood at all, but I had come too far by now. I defined some words for the Blood Nazi whom I didn't like anymore. She finally became satisfied that I didn't somehow forget the importance and risks of giving blood and she let me give a sample. They would see if I had any diseases or anything first. I would have understood the interrogation session if I were someone that hadn't given blood frequently in the past, but jeez lady. Ta det freaking lungt! She's probably why there's a shortage.
Now it would be up to me to follow through on this thing. Bro-in-Law would be back at work on the date that I chose to come back and give blood. The Blood Center didn't play games. They sent me a text message reminder to get my scary butt back over there because they need my blood. I thought about not going, but I couldn't think up a good enough reason. The sample hadn't been so uncomfortable. Just go do it, Jon. This would be the daily adventure for Bash and me. I considered taking extra classes with Birgitta to make sure I could pass the language test the second time around.
The day came and I made the trip to The Blood Center. I did my questionnaire and waited in the lobby. They called me back and thankfully I didn't end up going to the Blood Nazi. I got a nice woman that made me feel comfortable. You know, the type of lady you can reflex-fart around. She went over my questionnaire and apparently I accidentally said that I HAVE put myself at risk of contaminating my blood. Way to go Jon! I told her that was a mistake. My blood is fresh and clean. She made a note and that was it. Showtime!
She was so nice and friendly and so good to my arms. Sidenote: I aced the blood pressure check! 120 over 80, booyah! The needle prick didn't cause a fart. She brought me a juice box to sip on as my maple syrup oozed into the rotating bag. My blood was so slow that she thought something was wrong. I told her it's always like that. She adjusted the needle and my arm and changed my pump device. This was so different from the military nurses that were rough and unsympathetic. This was a caring process. This was volunTEERing versus volunTOLD. I listened to a podcast while Bash slept and my bag filled. My angel nurse told me to stick around and have some sandwiches before I go. I obliged. I was also able to either take home a teddy bear or donate it to a kid in the children's hospital. Talk about a loaded decision! I donated.
I'm proud of myself for donating blood. I could have backed out, but I didn't. I'm glad Bro-in-Law made me go with him. I definitely plan to donate regularly.
One thing that bothered me about the process was the part of the questionnaire that is outdated and needs to be changed. Some of the questions were asking if I was a man that has had sex with a man before. Obviously that isn't a concern for me, but what about gay men? Are gay men not allowed to give blood? This is another confusing thing, considering there is a SHORTAGE in Sweden. I passed the questionnaire, but they still tested my blood. Why can't they do this for gay men as well? What about a straight man that has anal sex with a woman? That wasn't even a question on the questionnaire. Isn't that just as dangerous? Sweden is a very progressive country (especially compared to America), so this line of questioning bothered me. I told my friend about it and he showed me on the internet that gay men are not allowed to give blood in Sweden (unless he hasn't had sex in a year). That is complete BS! How is this not considered discrimination? I was/am outraged! Sweden has to change this rule. My gay brothers should be able to help out with this SHORTAGE just like I can. They should feel good about themselves and donate teddy bears to sick children as well. That is a privilege we should all share. Get it together, Sweden!
Swedish readers, please help out with the shortage. Sign up to give blood. They're gentle and they have a nice sandwich spread. Also, it's good for the country and still makes you feel great about yourself. Hopefully the rules get changed for my gay brothers and the Blood Nazi takes a chill pill. If you know who to contact about changing that stupid rule about gay men, please comment below. I'd gladly send an angry letter or start a petition or march or whatever it takes. Until next time...