If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have done it. But this time, finally, the “what will they say” worked to my advantage.
Friday was one of those winter days when Momma Nature was teasing us with the freshness, lightness of spring – sunshine, clean, blue sky, and that earth smell when you can almost see, feel the new season’s plants growing in its bosom.
Still, I didn’t wanna leave the house. I was working from home (in other words: pyjama day) and I just didn’t feel like going out. I procrastinated as always. Then I started with the excuses, that led to white lies and I imagined coming here and saying them to you, and I couldn’t.
I promised to be honest here, and the truth was I had no reason not to hop on the bus and go to the blood bank. So I did. Because I told you I would.
And what do you know, it felt great to be outside. Walking without pain is still a novelty and I am always equally surprised and relieved as it happens. I didn’t even mind getting a little lost, and walking a little more although it could have easily been avoided by talking to the hospital information desk. (Unfortunately the very idea of talking to the hospital information desk scared the shit out of me so I rather wandered a bit…) And just when I gave in and approached a building to ask for directions, it was exactly where I found the blood bank.
It felt like a victory but the outside was in a big contrast with my internal emotions. There were no trumpets to celebrate my arrival, or a red carpet to welcome me even though I felt like I would deserve it. As most of the hospital buildings, it was a sad, worn place, reeking of tiredness and surrender. (It’s strange but when I enter a hospital, I don’t feel the positive spirit of healing, I only feel death lurking around. Maybe it’s just me but when I’m sick, I avoid hospitals at all costs.)
I always gave blood at various blood drives before. At festivals, work or the shopping centre, but never at a permanent blood centre. When they come to your place, the nurses are smiling, helpful and also thankful for the donation. Here, not only were there no smiles but the lady at the registration positively wanted to get rid of me.
I only blame her attitude where she was not even trying to look for solutions in order for me to be able to give blood that day but I cannot blame her for the reason that brought this on.
You see, we have a very modern government who started to issue these pretty cool ID cards that have a chip with your essential data: tax ID, health care ID, your birth ID. (Because to have one ID would have been too simple.) So now I don’t have to carry around those separate paper cards (which I lost anyway) with the numbers because I now have a CHIP. (Capital letters because they are mighty proud of it.) Which is all fine and dandy but no place I have tried to use it at, has a reader for this chip. Not one. Ooops!
I was not surprised that the blood centre, with its chairs from the 70’s, cracked storage units on the corridors which themselves were painted in the last milennia, was not equipped with such a fancy tool.
“I have written it down, I have my health care ID” I assured the stern lady behind the glass window.
“If you weren’t registered before, I cannot accept it” she said and I could hear in her voice she rather wished for it. She seemed like a person who enjoys drama. Well (and it surprised me, too) I wasn’t giving it to her.
I was calm, with none of the usual agitation these circumstances can bring on. I knew I couldn’t convinve her. I could not do anything about the outcome of this situation. I was either in their system, or I wasn’t.
“Well, don’t you worry” she said and man, did she look disappointed, “not only you’re in the system but you’re in it 5 times!”
Don’t get too excited yet though, she was still trying to fail me there.
“But none of them are with this address. What was your previous address?”
My actual previous address was in the Canary Islands of Spain but I knew better than to tell that to her. So I told her one of my last Hungarian addresses.
She was not happy that I knew.
“And the one before?”
It’s a more difficult question than you’d think because even in Hungary I lived in 6 places before my current one and would need to pressed hard to remember some of them. But I guessed right. Woohoo, I felt like a contestant on the Millionaire marching towards the final round. I was on a roll!
“What about the last one?” she said. She really was a stickler for rules.
“Let me help a little.”
Colour me surprised.
“It wasn’t in Budapest.”
Now we’re talking, I only had the one address outside of our capital, my childhood address so of course I remembered that.
I passed. Now I was ready to donate but she still wasn’t satisfied. After all, I had 3 records. (I know she said 5 but of course she’d be one to exaggerate.) Which one is to use now, was her predicament. She didn’t feel comfortable making that decision so she dragged the poor doctor out to the reception to check this “outrageous” situation.
The doctor must’ve known the lady at the desk because she was cool as a cucumber, didn’t even bat an eyelash. The doctor lady took the situation in, noted down all my record numbers (because what do you know, after all that trouble to find my health ID in the system, they actually use record numbers) and agreed to proceed further.
Now I was flying. There were only three of us waiting to donate blood so I quickly filled in my questionnaire, I had my fingertip poked (“Wow, it bleeds quite a lot,” we agreed with the nurse), my blood pressure measured by the doctor, all my three records checked by the same to ensure that never before was I excluded from giving blood by any reason and in no time I was in the funny chair waiting for the big needle.
One of the reasons why I’m so proud of me giving blood is that I hate needles. I mean find me a sane person who likes them. But what is a wee fear compared to saving a life, right?
I had a very good nurse though. She didn’t like the veins in my left arm, but she found a good one in my right and stuck that needle so expertly, I didn’t even feel a thing.
And then my blood was flying. (Her words, not mine.) To her genuine surprise maybe 3 minutes later the bag was filled and I was done. No discomfort, dizziness or any of the usual symptoms I remember having before. It’s strange to know that after half a litre blood gone, I’m still the same.
The nurse filled in my wee book to commemorate the event, gave me some gifts and sent me on my way. There I went, hearing the trumpets in my head, seeing the grateful people lining up on the side of the red carpet because I endured the slight discomfort of donating blood. I did a good thing today and even if there was no hype about it, Momma Nature kissed my forehead with her rays of sunshine and the preview of the spring.
It was a good day.