Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Shock, and Awe


Yesterday I headed over to my local Red Cross to donate platelets. When all the paperwork was done and I was settling in to my reclining chair, getting ready to watch a movie and survive two hours of nausea, all hell broke loose.

A young man a few chairs over, in the middle of his first-ever blood donation, had gone into shock.

Every technician in the place swarmed to his side. As I was already immobile in my chair, I couldn’t see much except this faraway look in the kid’s eyes. He kept pumping the stress ball in his hand, like you’re supposed to do to keep the blood flowing, only they’d pulled out the needle and the blood was… Well, there were people mopping up the floor, the chair, the kid’s arm.

I’ve never seen that look in someone’s eyes before. His brain had just checked out, was no longer connected or concerned with whatever his body was doing.

They kept talking to him, touching him, doing whatever it is you’re supposed to do for someone in shock. Eventually, his eyes came back to earth, the color came back to his cheeks, and I started breathing again.

He sat there for a long time. They brought him water, made him call home for a ride. There was genuine concern for his well-being, both physical and mental. They treated him professionally, but also with such amazing kindness.

I don’t know what I really learned from the experience, except that as much as I hate the corrupt healthcare industry as a whole, the people who devote themselves to this work do not deserve to share that reputation. They’re smart, caring, quick, and willing to make decisions that drastically affect other people’s lives on a regular basis. I’m so in awe, and so, so grateful.

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Some people (usually men for some reason) have this reaction to needles. I saw it a lot when I used to draw blood. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with how big or strong you are. I am guessing it might be genetic. Glad the techs were so kind and on top of things. He must have been terrified and really embarrassed. Hugs! Too much excitement at the Red Cross!!

  • This is why I can’t give blood anymore, three faints and one seizure since my first attempt back in high school. From my experience, it’s scarier for the people who witness it than for the person experiencing the shut-down.

    • That's absolutely terrifying, Steve. And yeah, I don't think the kid realized how scared the rest of us were — the techs never let on that anything was wrong. They kept saying, "This happens all the time. It's a normal reaction." And I'm over in my chair thinking, "Aiyeeeeee!!!!"

  • Yikes! Glad to hear the techs made it a positive experience for you. I'm one of those people who passes out, all the way out, when I see needles or blood. I always wake up feeling like crap, embarrassed and sorry for all the obvious worry and stress it causes in the people who saw it happen and helped. Because of this, I have HUGE admiration for people who keep their cool (and consciousness!) when others get hurt or need medical help. I also really respect people like you who can hack it and are able to donate.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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