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People tell me that I shouldn't donate blood anymore. For some reason, something always goes horribly wrong. Usually, I don't have enough iron to donate. A couple of times ago, they let my skip through because it was the end of the day and they forgot to check. Then I passed out. I think my blood was unusable. Yesterday, I tried to donate again, and I guess I squeezed the squishy ball too hard, because I ended up filling the bag up in about 2 or 3 minutes. In the time between the beeping of the weight sensor, and the nurse leaving the other patient to clamp me, the bag had become too full to use. They then spent a good couple minutes arguing about if the scale was wrong or not, and how they've never seen this before. Then they started arguing about whose fault it was. Finally someone took the needle out of my arm, while someone else is going "You need to take samples" and she was saying "I'm only concerned with getting the needle out of your arm! Don't worry though." I had 3 different nurses coming back and forth taking care of me in between other people, and no one knew where the last nurse left off, so when one saw me holding the needle-site with my arm over my head, she assumed I'd been doing it for a while, but really it was only like 5 seconds. She had me put my arm down, and I started oozing blood through the gauze. She let me put it up again. I passed out once. I almost passed out again after that. The whole time, the head nurse was talking to me like a frightened child, explaining everything in excruciating detail, and constantly repeating how everything is going to be alright. Here's a hint for any health care professionals or others who have to deal with worrying people. If someone is smiling, laughing, and saying "I'll grow some more" when you're trying to assure them that they haven't lost too much blood, that's when you stop assuring them. Because honestly, nothing sets me more ill at ease than a bunch of people swarming around me repeating over and over again that I have nothing to worry about. I ended up sitting there in a corner for like 2 hours, and even today, I'm having issues writing because my arm is so dead. But then again, this afternoon I got trashed on a single white russian, so that was kind of entertaining. I really, really like donating blood. I'm O+, so I feel like I might really be saving a life. And if nothing else, I'm going to keep doing it for the interesting complainy stories :)
Part three of this story: (god, why do I only add to this thought when I'm drunk as hell?) I walked through the narrow hallway connecting the main part of the hospital to its psychiatric ward. At the dead end of the hallway, a sign instructed me to press a button and speak through an intercom before the door in front of me could be unlocked. I said my full name and hers, and said that I was there to visit her. There was a long pause, then someone came to the door to let me in. They gruffly instructed me to come up to the desk and hand over the books and the stuffed animal that I brought for them to inspect. They flipped through every page and combed over the stuffed animal as if they were determined to find something that I had surely been trying to smuggle into her room. I couldn't help but get a little pissed at them for being so fucking suspicious. I slipped into her room. She looked far worse in that bed than she did when I found her in a pool of her own blood, intent on letting the life drain out of her. She told me that they kept the bright florescent lights on 24 hours a day so that the security camera pointed at her could keep a watch on her. The room wasn't padded, but it was solid white and designed like a solitary confinement cell. If I hadn't known better, I would have assumed that it was a cell where they put people to punish them for some misdeed by making them feel like shit, not a room in a hospital where people were supposedly cared for with compassion. She thanked me for bringing the books and the stuffed animal. She showed me her stitches and told me about what she had gone through in the past several hours with doctors and nurses and counselors. She didn't know why she wanted to kill herself, and she agreed with the doctors that it was probably just a result of mixing several of her medications at the wrong time with too much alcohol. She admitted that she loved her life and had no reason to abandon it so soon. I told her about her apartment getting cleaned, and she shared my mix of pleasant surprise and disappointment. I joked with her that next time, she should bleed all over her dishes, too. Soon after she got out of the hospital, she asked me over to her apartment again. She said that she had something to show me. She pulled her sleeve up and showed me her arm, where her stitches had recently been taken out. There, she had my personal symbol (an old, esoteric scribble that I've signed/tagged things with for years) tattooed next to her scar to remind her that I had saved her life. I wish the story ended there. I think that the most incredible part of this story is how it effortlessly progressed into her treating me like an enemy, nearly getting me killed (gunned down, at that), and not caring about me in the least. I suppose no matter what you do for someone, even so far as sacrificing a part of your life for them and saving them from death... Eventually, it becomes obvious that there was nothing that you could have done to make them give a shit about you. You can't ever expect anything in return, no matter what. To get by in life, something else has to drive you to do what you do. Want a hint of what makes me me? Fire, blood, blades, and death have taught me the truth of compassion. Even through this real-life fodder for cliché emo lyrics, I've learned a useful thing or two about reality, life, the universe, the nature of humanity. There's a wisdom hidden deep underneath the tired rhetoric, there's beauty hidden behind pain and tragedy, and there's suffering hidden behind joy. Now I've gotten myself onto a tangent. This was just supposed to be about the anecdote about the girl and her razor blade. Not my endless useless philosophical rambling. I'll save that subject for when I'm a bit more sober and confident that I have a... point to make.
I walked into her unlocked apartment to collect the books and stuffed animals that she wanted. To my surprise and macabre disappointment, the blood on the walls and floor of her apartment had all been washed clean, presumably by the paramedics. I had followed the ambulance in my bike and stayed with her in the hospital room while she was getting stitches, and after she had calmed down and we started to talk more casually, we agreed that the bloodbath in her apartment should be photographed and the messages she left on my cell phone should be saved so both could be incorporated into an art project of mine that I had been working on for the past couple years. I successfully saved the voicemail messages, but wasn't able to take photos of her apartment before it got mysteriously cleaned.
I walked around her apartment quietly, reflecting on how glad I was that she was alive, wondering if I should be resentful that she so frequently put me through so much. I grabbed her stuffed animal and a Johnny the Homicidal Maniac book and headed out the door on my way back to the hospital.
I was afraid that my proposal that I use the artifacts of her attempted suicide in my art was selfish and would make it harder for her to move on past the incident, but I was pleasantly surprised that she loved the idea, and insisted that I use my artwork to make some good come out of that awful day.
She was feeling happy and stable for once. Her grades were going up, despite her insane quintuple-major, and she just got a promotion at work. We celebrated in her apartment with movies, hard liquor, music, and sex that still ranks up as the wildest I've ever had (she and I broke my record of most orgasms given in a night, and it hasn't been topped yet). She was always so hospitable. She'd have me over and give me anything that I needed, let me sleep in her big, comfortable bed with her as often as I wanted, and just wanted my company.
She was drinking far more quickly than I was. I pulled out the trash can so it would be near to her in case she needed to puke. She seemed to be holding it together and didn't talk for awhile, while we watched a movie. Then she got up and went to the restroom. Maybe ten minutes later, I noticed that something was wrong. I could tell from a light in the hallway that the bathroom door was open, and I didn't hear anything. I got up to see what was going on.
Blood covered the walls and was smeared all over her. She grinned and invited me in to see what she learned she could do. Through the deep gash she put in her wrist, she could bend her hand back and spray blood in a steady stream. It looked like someone had been running a blood lawn sprinkler in the middle of the bathroom.
I took her into the kitchen to clean her up, clean her cut, and wrap gauze around her wrist tightly enough to stop the bleeding. She was still really drunk and apologized for me having to go to all the trouble.
The next afternoon, I get out of a class and inspect my phone. Someone had been trying to call me while I was in class and I had two new voicemails. I start listening to the first one. It's her, and she sounds tired. She wants me to come over as soon as I get the message. She said that she might be cold and not moving by the time I got there, but in the off chance that I made it in time to catch her last few moments alive, she wanted to spend them in my arms. She started talking about blood everywhere and asking me not to call the police, but I hung up and called for an ambulance the second I realized that she had just left me her suicide note. On my bike, I was flying through traffic faster than I'd ever been compelled to bike before when I got ahold of an operator and shouted to her to send paramedics to the apartment. Meanwhile, the tail of my trench coat got caught in the back wheel of my bike, but I just kept going, letting it shred up a piece of the end of the coat as I breathlessly biked one-handed through all the shortcuts I knew. When I got to her apartment, I kicked in the door and frantically searched around for her. She wasn't in her bedroom. Wasn't in the bathroom. When I made another pass through the living room, I realized that she was under a pile of blankets when I stepped on her leg.
The hospital estimated that she had lost a little over a quart of blood, and she used all of it well. As she helped me hold pressure over her arm, I noticed that she had covered much of her apartment in blood, and spelled out "I love you" and my name in her blood across her kitchen floor. She had drawn trails of blood from her eyes down her cheeks like we had done to each other a few nights before. At that moment, I felt terrible for encouraging this by making our mutual self-destruction a regular part of our lovemaking. She asked me not to call anybody, because she just wanted to die in peace and not in a hospital, but the ambulance sirens were already approaching.