I’ve never liked having things stuck in my arm. When I was a kid at school, I once fainted after having the BCG (anti-tuberculosis) vaccination. To be fair to me, I didn’t faint straight away at the sight of the injection. Instead, I went back to my physics classroom, sat on my high stool and continued with the lesson. Until thirty minutes later that is, when I told Broadsheet Benny that I was feeling a bit hot. Apparently when I fell backwards off my stool and crashed onto the hard wooden floor, he demonstrated his unique British reserve by putting his hand in the air and saying, “Sir, I think somebody has fainted.”
I have to confess to a small amount of disappointment that I hadn’t actually fractured my skull as was suspected. Although a fractured thumb can be pretty painful too, you know.
Anyway, needless to say I’ve never had much of an appetite for injections since then. I winced in agony when I had multiple injections in both my big toes in order to have ingrowing toenails removed. I closed my eyes when I had acupuncture to cure some stomach problems. And I’ve steadfastly avoided tetanus shots with a commitment and devotion that would impress the most stubborn of trypanophobics. Or needle haters, to you and me.
So when I saw the American Red Cross’s mobile blood donation service outside my office today, my first thought was something nice and simple like “You know, I’d really love to be able to give blood and save the life of somebody less fortunate than me, but in this day and age, do they really have to stick a needle in my arm or can they just walk me past a small suction pump and then give me a nice comforting biscuit and cup of tea?”
Thankfully, before the guilt could truly descend, I remembered one vital fact – if you spent three months in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996, you’re not eligible to donate blood in the United States, for fear that you will introduce variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (the human form of Mad Cow Disease) into the blood supply. Given that practically the only time I spent out of the UK during that time was a week in Fuengirola, I’m guessing I’m out of luck when it comes to blood donation in this country.
Of course, of more relevance might be the fact that my mum used to regularly feed me and my sister with cheeseburgers from Iceland (the store, rather than the country), with the cheese contained within the burger like some kind of beefy Pop Tart. To say the meat was high quality would be like claiming that Eliot Spitzer hired prostitutes for the conversation. Ever since news of Mad Cow Disease emerged, I think all three of us have been waiting for one or the other of us to have our legs collapse from under us whenever we’ve entered a farmyard.
Irrational though it is, I actually find it slightly irritating that my blood isn’t welcome in this parish. It seems that I’m allowed to pay taxes until the (mad) cows come home, but if I want to vote or want to save lives, well I’d better think again. Even former malaria sufferers from South America are more welcome to give blood than me.
Fortunately I’ve got my own private blood donation policy going on at the moment, so I don’t need to worry about America’s disinterest in my supply. Admittedly, accidentally cutting my fingers to ribbons with surprisingly sharp kitchen knives isn’t exactly saving the world, but at least it provides a new destination for my red stuff, I guess.