An experiment was carried out to illustrate the effects of blood loss on the efficacy of prescription opioids and Tennessee sour mash whiskey.
I’ve been terrified of needles since as far back as I can remember – one of my earliest memories is being wheeled screaming down a dimly lit corridor into theatre to have my adenoids pulled out by what I understood at the time to be a drunken bear with a pair of knitting needles and a claw hammer. Although I seem now to be slightly less of a sissy than I was then – helped along by knee surgery and medical trials – I still feel incredibly nervous at the prospect of metal piercing my skin.
But, well, sometimes you’ve just got to quit whining and do something nice for a change.
On arriving at the venue, the first thing they did was tell me to drink a half pint of water; a little over the 470ml – or 1 Unit – of the red stuff I was about to bleed out into a bag. I read a couple of leaflets and then a nurse called me over and asked for my previous medical history; once all the correct boxes were ticked she took a small sample of blood to test my haemoglobin levels: “Just a little prick,” she said – not the first nurse to say that to me to be honest.
My blood was good and heavy with iron so I was whisked over to a stretcher by another nurse and asked which arm I wanted her to go into; a tourniquet went around my left bicep and the skin over the blood vessel on the inside of my elbow was cleaned. Unlike with a cannula, the inserted needle stays in the vein for the duration but you hardly notice it at all.
I laid back and read another leaflet instructing me to squeeze and release the muscles in my legs and arse, together with clenching the fist of the offended arm – all in the aid of a good steady flow; it felt bizarre, like I was dry humping the air 10cm above my crotch. A little over five minutes later and the needle was pulled out and the bag spirited away.
Another five minutes later and I’m sitting with other donors drinking orange squash; one person feels faint and needs to lie down, I hear of another who earlier collapsed in the bathroom, but I felt strangely buoyant; Native Americans are known for the practise of bloodletting as a proven painkiller and also in ritual ceremony – I guess it’s good to give the other red blood cells room to wiggle their tails a bit.
I hope that little red bag helps someone out. I reckon I’ll go back in 16 weeks – they do have free Penguin biscuits after all and they’re very kind. One of the nurses told me to be careful with alcohol: “Cheap night!” he said, with a cheeky smile.
So getting back to this ‘experiment’, I decided to have a few codeine pills and a healthy glass of whiskey with my hamburger.
And the result? Nothing much of anything except I got a little sleepy towards the end of the Stephen Hawking documentary; Rock and Roll.
The search for my animal spirit guide continues.
Scared of needles? You have until 4pm, Friday 18th Nov, to face your fears in the Main Hall of Middlesbrough Tower.