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Roll em' up 

The American Red Cross says summer months usually mean depleted blood supplies due to increased demand and a drop in donations. Despite a previous donation experience that was less than stellar, I recently signed up when my RTP-based employer announced the latest on-site blood drive.

The earlier incident, etched forever in my memory, began as any ordinary clinical experience--in an over-air-conditioned room. My first clue that something was amiss came when the apprehensive nurse (was she really a nurse?) kept probing my tied-off arm and asking a seemingly more experienced staff member if she had located a suitable vein.

Among the sounds one doesn't want to hear when giving blood is an audible gasp from the attending nurse, followed by "I'm so sorry!" I looked down and discovered a large crimson splotch on my white polo shirt. A stream of blood had spurted out of my right arm, arced over me and nailed the logo over my left breast.

"Peroxide will get that out," said the experienced nurse, as she generously applied the solution. My shirt was now heavily soaked in peroxide and its chilling effect in this Arctic temperature was as if someone had drenched me in rubbing alcohol and placed me in front of a high-powered fan.

My shivers prompted sympathetic reactions from the staff who were now looking for something to wedge between the soaked shirt and my skin. They proceeded to stuff a cardboard Kleenex box up my shirt, which proved only slightly less frigid and definitely more awkward.

While tending to the ruby-colored Rorschach stain on my shirt, the nurses had neglected the blood that was still dripping out of my violated vein and pooling onto the armrest of my chair. More apologies and more wiping.

After completing my donation and partaking of generous portions of soda and cookies, I encountered a co-worker who looked over my sanguinary outfit and remarked, "That's why I don't give blood."

I smiled, knowing that one bad experience wouldn't deter me from donating again. I'll just wear a dark shirt next time.

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