In very cold blood

19Jul09

True nobility lies in doing good without mentioning it, but I’m not really cut from that cloth. Plus, I haven’t actually done any good yet, I’ve just made the appointment. Still, I claim full bragging rights – partly because if I brag about it, I’m more likely to go through with it.

Let us return to last weekend, to my kitchen, where I was doing a bit of staring out of the window. The radio was on and during the break the NHS started telling me how worried it was about blood supplies during the flu epidemic. Crikey mikey, I thought, not really concentrating, that’s pretty hefty flu if you need a transfusion to get through it – I don’t remember them saying THAT on the news. Now fully stirred from my reverie, I listened a bit harder. In fact, the NHS is not expecting everyone to start haemorrhaging in the street, it’s worried that all the usual drainees will be too ill to donate.

To tell the truth, giving blood has been on my list for, let’s see, my entire adult life, but when it comes to elective medical procedures, I’m an instinctive shirker. But you can’t ignore a message from the universe, even if it is being delivered by XFM. It’s time I stopped being such a baby; it’s time to give blood. Or at least Google it and hope to God I’m exempt.

Turns out that an awful lot of people are exempt: the list of no-nos is huge, and most of them indicate a life considerably more interesting than mine. Recent piercings, drug use, exotic couplings, unregulated acupuncture in shopping centres – my word, what have I been doing with my time? I haven’t even got cold sores.

Feeling slightly dispirited at having to trumpet my blameless youth, I filled in the form and waited for the breathlessly grateful phone call. Humph. Nothing doing. They were booked up for days and days. Far from needing every drop of my precious plasma, it sounds like Tooting is awash with the stuff. Anyway, we finally hammered out a mutually agreeable date and I settled into anxiously asking around and gathering horror stories.

I might end up with one of my own. The nice lady rang back to reschedule my appointment for an earlier day. I agreed, then asked the reason for the clinic’s closure. ‘Staff training,’ she said. I’d hung up before I realised the import of her answer. Did she say training?

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