I gave blood today. I love giving blood for a number of reasons: it comes with some sweet swag, I get that smug feeling that comes with community service, and they feed me all my favorite Keebler brand cookies. All good things. Plus, for whatever reason, blood bank workers always feel the need to compliment my body while I'm donating, specifically my huge honking veins that pop out of my arms. "Oooh, those are some nice big veins. I can see where they like to attack them. I could go with either one." goes the typical exchange.
However, there are aspects of giving blood that are somewhat uncomfortable for me. Obviously, getting a finger prick and my arm jabbed with a super huge needle is less than my favorite thing. But in addition to those unpleasantries, there are a few problems that I am assuming most of the population does not experience when giving blood that are unique to tall skinny males. It may not be readily obvious on the internets, but in real life, I am actually quite tall. 6'4", to be exact.
1. Orthostatic hypotension. I have suffered from it ever since I hit my growth spurt and shot up 11 inches between 14 and 15. Basically, if I stand up too quickly at times, all the blood runs out of my head, leaving me to collapse and convulse on the floor for a few seconds, frightening everyone around me. Draining blood from my body exacerbates this considerably, making it an adventure every time I stand up, but the brief lack of consciousness leaves this crazy little out of body experience which is actually fun and kinda trippy to go through. I never mention this problem to the screeners, who thanks to my immaculate vitals believe me to be the picture of health. More on them in a minute.
2. Short cots. Blood drives have these tiny little temporary cots you lie on while you get your blood sucked out of you, and they are not designed for the vertically gifted. In fact, I usually end up kicking someone in the head or avoiding a game of footsie with the person unfortunate enough to be in the next cot over.
3. Long arms and vital signs. Generally, when taking vital signs, the screeners have this nice little table thing between them and the donor. However, if the donor has long awkward Go-Go-Gadget Arms, it simply does not suffice. When my blood pressure gets taken, I have to fully extend my arm, leaving my hand off the table and invading personal space. Worse, since one should not close their fist while getting their blood pressure taken, I have an open hand fully extending toward the almost always female screener's chest. At this point, the screen has to apply the cuff and listen with the stethoscope, which requires her to lean forward, and it is at this point that I have to awkwardly shift in my chair and slide my arm around as much as I can to avoid groping the poor woman. I have yet to find any way to give blood that doesn't involve molesting my screener for a brief second. It seems to happen regardless of the person's size or shape. I can only assume that they either can't tell that their boobs are attacking my hand through the scrubs or that it happens frequently enough that it's just a minor occupational annoyance. At any rate, it's always uncomfortable for me, and the fact that the screener is either unaware or indifferent to the whole process leaves me no social cues, making me even more self-conscious about the thing.
Luckily, giving blood makes me feel healthier after the whole passing out every time I stand up situation passes, and then I get a second wave of smugness when the automated voice calls me and tells me that some patient in Dayton, OH is alive thanks to me. You're welcome, complete strangers!