Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Drawing Blood the Hard Way

I am not a tough girl. I don't wear 'big girl panties.' And I can't believe I did this in high school.

In tenth grade, I jumped feet-first into a college-level Anatomy and Physiology class. The teacher was stern, and the class proved difficult for most students. Even my college A&P classes weren't as challenging as that class. We studied Latin in addition to the bones, muscles, and other guts for the class. We made models, drew gigantic diagrams, and took hundreds of tests, quizzes, and exams. We dissected all manner of dead things from worms and raw chicken legs to cats.

The teacher wasn't liked by several students, but he and I seemed to be playing on the same level or something, because we clicked. He was a veteran, ex-Navy or ex-Marine, I forget which, and he was a large man, tall and muscular like a retired linebacker. He was tough.

One of our labs included blood typing ourselves. We were supposed to use lancets to prick the end of a finger, and then we should have squeezed a tiny drop of blood onto each of four little bits of paper. The lab had more directions, but I have forgotten those as well.

The teacher offered extra credit (in the form of bragging rights) to any student who could draw blood for the lab without a lancet. He provided sterile razors and told us not to do anything stupid. Nobody moved. I looked around, looked at him, looked at the razors, shrugged my little girl shoulders, and went for it. Lancets scare the piss out of me. At least I knew I could control a razor.

I walked to the back of the classroom away from students so that I could concentrate on removing my own flesh. Not wanting to open a new wound, I picked around a scab until it came off. I swear, before or since, that's the only scab that came off without bleeding. Working slowly and deliberately, I opened up the old wound until blood oozed up, one slow blood cell at a time. Minutes turned into an hour, and time was running out. I poked harder, but it hurt too much. With seconds left in class, I poured my tiny bit of blood out onto the paper, finished up the lab, and started slapping on the bandaids.

For some reason, the test was inconclusive. The blood didn't work with the materials at hand or something... now, almost eight years later, I still don't know what my blood type is.

That wound was so ugly, it took almost three months to heal. Talk about bragging rights...

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