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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

A word of warning: strange side effects after donating blood

Last week, I went to donate blood to the new blood drive. What follows is the truthful account of the horrific after-effects that have been plaguing me, metaphorically and physically, in the days since. It all started when I showed up to a series of small curtained-off rooms, instead of the open room setup I had seen at previous donations. The person drawing my blood showed up late — and empty-handed. She snuck in through the curtain in absolute silence, surprising me. She was very pale. In fact, she pointed it out, asking if I would have my blood drawn outside so we could both get some air. It seemed atypical, but I agreed, and out we went — and I was too distracted by the situational awkwardness to notice that she was still empty-handed.

And then, well, as that famous proverb goes: she did it right there, out on the deck: put her canine teeth in the side of my neck. The next thing I remember is waking up the following morning, confused, in a daze. 

When I went outside, the light burned my eyes. I looked down at my hands, emulating the video game log-on position, and saw the light reflecting back at me — it was almost sparkly. It was at that moment I realized the awful truth: I had forgotten my sunglasses, and was either going to be unable to see all day, or late to breakfast with the girls. I made my decision and ran the 30 steps back to my dorm — and ran them fast. Unnaturally fast, faster than I had been before. But speed is of the essence when it comes to breakfast with the girls, and I was already a few minutes late, which I hated.

Once I did get into LDC, I was immediately hit with a wave of a wonderful smell, a smell that seemed to come from every person I walked past. I was hungry. Very hungry. And smelling that wonderful smell from all those people, feeling that biting hunger, I did the only thing I could think of: I went up to the left main counter and I made myself a breakfast burrito. Try as I might, I could never overcome the awful pull and incredible scent of those onions and peppers. I held back from the chorizo, though, and opted for veggie sausage: the meat was suddenly rather unappealing to me. 

After getting my food, I walked over to my group’s usual breakfast booth. As I approached, a friend jumped up from her seat, calling out, “Bella, where the hell have you been, loca?” I was somewhat surprised by the gesture — we rarely got up to greet one another, let alone in such eloquent phrasing. And I was only seven minutes late. I looked to my other friends for guidance, and quickly learned that the individual who had stood up had had three cups of coffee already, in preparation for back-to-back Italian and Spanish quizzes that day, explaining the vocabulary book-ending the outburst. 

But the strangeness of my day went far beyond breakfast. In class, all the seats felt too close together, and I couldn’t breathe. Everything was constricted. There was no cause for panic or worry — so why this sudden inability to inhale or exhale? Suddenly, it occurred to me — I was on fourth Leighton, and had forgotten my inhaler in the morning, due to the sunglass-panic. 

Later on, I returned from dinner — where I had once again been overwhelmed by smells, this time less pleasant — and was greeted by one of my roommates. However, in an unusual twist, she substituted her “hey” for an “Are you okay? You look pale.” The comment explained a lot of the concerned looks I had received throughout the day, and also caused me great anger; I had spent all weekend high on life outdoors with my friends hoping to catch a tan. But the blood donation had lowered my iron. 

Facing April paleness, and nearly-as-worrying shower dizziness, I realized it was almost my time of the month. It happens to all women at some point in their lives. For me, it was middle school. Ever since sixth grade, there had been a time every month when I felt sick, was sensitive to smells, and was told by everyone around me (friends, family, eighth-grade history teachers) just how incredibly pale I looked. The issue had started around the same time I first read the Twilight series; that sort of quintessential pre-teen era. Later that night, I made up my mind, and prepared for my monthly ritual, donning a mask and a raincoat. I left my room, walking silently, and I entered the Arb. And after a long 35-minute walk through the wilderness, I finally came upon a deer, and drank all its blood.

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