Monday, October 24, 2011

What Do Neckties Have To Do With Donating Blood?

 I remember the first and last times I gave blood - and several times in between. I gave blood the first time when I worked at the 'Light Plant' (Municipal Utilities) in Corning the spring of 1967. I was twenty-three years old. Community Blood Drives were held four times a year. Mom and Dad often contributed - Dad mostly because he was O-Negative which meant he had a rare universal donor blood type. The Red Cross volunteers always called him and asked him to donate.
Our nation's involvement in the Viet Nam War made the need for blood donors even more urgent than usual which is why I wanted to give blood for the first time - but was scared to. There was a salesman from Des Moines who regularly called at the Light Plant. He was a personable young man and we always conversed when he came in. When he learned that I wanted to give blood but was afraid I would faint, he offered to go with me and give blood, too. That gave me the courage to go up to the Legion Hall after work and give blood for the first time. It wasn't as bad as I had imagined. I didn't faint. In fact, I was rather proud of myself. I still remember the guy's name - Phil Wieting - and the company he worked for - McKesson & Robbins.
The second time I gave blood was in Des Moines in 1972 or '73. I worked for an Advertising and Public Relations Agency on the sixth floor of the Empire Building in downtown Des Moines. About once every month or six weeks, this little old man would come into the office carrying a suitcase. His name was Irving Redstone. He was one of the last of the salesmen known as 'peddlers'. His suitcase was full of beautiful neckties. Not all businessmen could be bothered to give time to a peddler, but the two I worked for were always gracious to Irving. They didn't always buy a tie, but they took the time to look. I even bought some ties for Denny even though they were more expensive than department store ties. I think we all felt a little sorry for the man. It seemed a hard way to make a living.
Just as I had gotten acquainted with salesman Phil, I also became friendly with Mr. Redstone. Then one day he told us his wife, Paula, was in the hospital. I don't remember the nature of her illness, only that she had had to have several blood transfusions. They did not have family members to give replacement blood and he really couldn't afford to pay for it. He did not ask us to, but when I told Denny about it, we both decided to donate blood in Mrs. Redstone's name to replace what she had used. That was the second time I donated blood.

Over the years, I donated blood many times. One of the companies I worked for in Des Moines had a regular "day" at the Blood Center of Iowa every six months. And when I moved back to Corning, I was a regular donor during the blood drives at the Community Center until......
The last time.....I was in the recliner when the nurse ordered: "Spit that gum out!" Yes, ordered. Not asked politely or even told why I should get rid of my gum. It reminded me of my school days when gum chewing was anathema to teachers. It all went down hill fast from there. She had trouble getting the needle in my arm. Then about half way through, the blood flow stopped. Nurse Crab tried repositioning the needle several times. The pain was too much and I started to faint. She finally gave up - as did I. Enough!

I have not given blood since. My fear of the needle and fainting before my first experience became true many years later. - The last time.

No comments:

Post a Comment