How words can damage
I used to be a blood donor.
I started on my eighteenth birthday and gave regularly. I felt I was doing some good.
They were always pleased to see me because I have a rare blood group. So they felt good when I donated. I felt good when I donated.
My highlight came one day about fifteen years ago.
The mobile donor unit had arrived at my workplace, and I was going to drop in during the day. But I got an urgent call – could I please run up and donate immediately. So I ran.
When I got there, I was rushed past all the waiting colleagues and given a quick preliminary check and was then immediately plumbed up. There was a motor cycle courier waiting by the bedside looking nervous. As soon as they had tied off the knots, the courier was given the pouch and off he went at a run to his bike.
“What was all that about?” says I to the nurse.
Apparently there was a baby in the nearby hospital who was on the operating table, and they were desperate for my blood group. She said I more than likely saved that baby’s life. I felt good. And I hope the baby made it.
About six months later, the unit was back again, so I strolled up.
I went through the usual prechecks and was found to be all healthy. One of the questions you are asked is if you are on any medication. I was, at the time. I had been taking a tablet for the previous couple of weeks for a minor complaint.
The doctor came around to examine me, and glanced at my notes. He then announced in a voice loud enough to be heard throughout the room [which was full with my friends and colleagues] –
“He’s a regular drug user. Rejected.”
Now what he said was technically correct. But by implication, he had branded me as a potential herion addict in front of the people I worked with every day. I should have demanded an apology. I should have told that doctor [in a loud voice] that he had the tact of a fart in a lift. I should have told that doctor that he was a jumped up little prick. I should have told that doctor he had the bedside manner of a warthog. But I was too stunned. I left without donating.
I have never donated since.
So, to all the people who might have benefitted since from my donations, I am sorry. Blame that little shit of a doctor.
And to that little shit of a doctor I say “Think first before you open your mouth. Words have the power to brand people. Words have the power to hurt unintentionally. Words can cut deeper than any scalpel. A word once spoken cannot be unspoken, and can do irreparable damage.”
I often wonder about that baby. Did he or she grow up to be a happy teenager? I hope so. I’m sure he or she never gives me a thought. I don’t care. I still get a little warm glow from time to time.
When I lived in America I used to try and donate blood and was able to for awhile. I too have a rare blood group and it made everyone feel good just like you said! However one day because of the mad cow thing they decided that anyone who had spent more than six months in Europe since 1980 was inelligible to donate. I wonder when mad cow broke out over there a couple of years ago if they just halted the blood program altogether? Nevermind that my blood was perfectly fine for years before that rule… idiots!
They spend their time whining about the low blood supplies, and appealing for donors. But then they make up such stringent rules that no-one can donate.
I suppose it is because of the hepatitis thing, but that was their fault too.
The secrets are coming out now!!
Well done on the donations.
I donated twice on the only occasions that my weight met the required minimum.
I have met a few Consultants like that in my day.
One of them is etched in my brain. He was a young Buck still wet behind the ears, who took all hope and will to live away from my husband.
I did have the wit to say that when his turn came I hoped that the consultant was not as brutal as he had been.
Doctors are thoroughly trained in medical matters, but bedside manner seems to have sadly been left off the curriculum.
I had one doctor who wouldn’t see a patient for more than five minutes [he used the conveyor belt technique]. One visit, he spent the entire time whining about his overheads and expenses and how he had to put his prices up. Three days later, I saw him being interviewed on the news as he was heading over to Cheltenham for the races, with a big smirk on his face. I voted with my feet!
I have to say that I think depriving people of your blood after having been a regular donor is a bit a ridiculous. Have you ever stopped to think how many people may potentially have died due to a little damage to your ego although this is worst case scenario. This does nothing to, in anyway, get back at doctor in question, all you are doing is depriving the people who it need it most. While I do applaud your efforts in the past, I find this a little childish.
i can’t donate either because i’m always on the verge of being anemic. have been this way all my life and feel fine, but it’s a stopper.
on the other hand, my sister was kept alive for many years thanks to blood donations (she had cancer) and so i would hope that one doctor’s poor bedside manner wouldn’t really stop you from ever donating again.
seven years of chemotherapy really depleted my sister’s red blood cells, exhausting her. she was always so much better after a transfusion.
i’ve seen how important it is. don’t mean to be on my high horse here, but it makes me tear up a little to remember those emergencies….
it’s good of you to be a life-long donor, and even if you never donate again i know the blood you’ve given has made an enormous difference.
There is a wee bit I left out of the above, but a doctor decided a while after the above that I was lacking in something in my system somewhere. I’m not sure what. I leave it to the experts. But the fact is I have to take something to counteract the other thing.
So if I go back to donate, I run the risk of being accused again.
If someone insults you once, that’s their fault. If someone insults you twice, it’s your fault.
I can’t remember how many gallons I have donated in my time [around 6 or 7?], but I think I have done my bit. So, Ciaran, I think it a bit high handed of you to accuse me of killing people. I didn’t post this to seek praise for my actions. Far from it. I am a humble person by nature.
My point is that the careless use of words can cause damage. I can call myself a drug addict because I smoke a pipe. I can call myself a regular drug user because I take prescribed medicine. But it is not up to others – especially doctors – to use those terms in a public place.
I was thinking about donating blood up in UCD, but I fear only two things in life – needles left in me for long periods of time and dogs. No doubt Ciaran will accuse me of being a coward and a murderer but I absolutely hate having metal objects inside my veins.
And as for reputations, a guy called Toff – quoted on the sidebar on my blog – once called me a faggot at rugby for no good reason than I high-tackled him earlier in a practice match. I’m straight, so it wasn’t the insult, but rather that he was such a hard man that he had to express that thought in public.
I’m shamed to say it, but I felt slightly happy inside when I recently heard someone had kicked him in the head during a match. I’m sure you’d fele the same about that doctor, Grandad.
I am also a regular drug user because I take about 2 and a half litres of caffeinated beverages every day.
You certainly brought back a very unpleasant and sad memory to me .
On January 13, 1957 I had a baby. The following year on January 7,1958 my husband and I were taking down our Christmas tree and listening to music on the radio.Suddenly,the music stopped and the announcer came on with an urgent appeal for blood from a huge center city hospital.It seems a baby was dying and desperately needed a fairly rare type of blood which just happened to match my own.
My husband and I quickly arranged for neighbors to watch our children and we rushed to the hospital to help save this child . As I entered the place the doctors literally grabbed me and while rushing me to the donation site they were asking all the questions i.e. “Ever have chicken pox,measels,mumps, anemia”. I answered all their questions about my health and they then asked the final question.”Have you had a baby in the last 12 months?” Well, I did have a baby but he was going to be 1 year old in 6 days. They then told me that the hospital rules were that they could not take blood from a new mother, and they would not take mine.
The parents of the sick baby had by now pinned their hopes on me but were not included in the conversation. The doctor came out and announced for all to hear that I was not suitable because of a pre existing “Health” problem. Everyone in that place took that to mean I was a druggie or something.
I have no way of knowing how that baby made out because that stupid doctor embarrassed me so much that we just slunk out and never looked back’
Nancy – that is precisely the kind of thing I am talking about. You try to do something that is good, and for your troubles you get embarrassed by someone who should know better.
It is people ‘in authority’ using terminology that is potentially damaging. We can’t complain because technically they are correct, but morally they are wrong. Doctors and others have a moral duty to be discreet.
If my chemist [sorry – pharmacist!] shouted out in a crowded shop that my anti-AIDS prescription was ready it would be equally infuriated. Same principle. Thankfully I a) don’t have AIDS and b) have a very nice chemist.
Dario – you are definitely a hard core drug addict. All that caffeine? No question.
As for someone calling you a faggot – if he were a psychiatrist, I would be worried, but a rugby player? Nah!! You should just have told him his sister was a lousy lay!!!
Speaking of shouting things out in a crowded pharmacy, I have noticed a huge difference in one aspect of that . A great change has taken place all over the world. Young fellows now holler out to the clerk in their loudest voice,”Give me a pack of lubricated Trojans”, and then lowering their voice to a whisper.”And a pack of Marlboros.”
And on the same topic – My daughter went to work in our local chemist one summer. On her first day, the chemist told her to go out into the [crowded] shop and shout that there was a prescription ready for Mike Hunt. The poor girl did!!!!!
Some things never change in pharmacies though, they still whisper when they’re dispensing the contraceptive pill! And I have to pay for it now I’m in Ireland, in the UK it’s free…
I wanted to give blood here too, but I can’t since I’m from the UK and was there for mad cow, so they don’t want my blood these days!
Yes – I must wander into Pelican House and offer to donate. When they ask if I’ve been abroad, I’ll reply No, and then slither to the ground and start frothing at the mouth!!!
Elly are you back in America?
Grandad you are a Mad Cow! 😉
Mike Hunt? Ah, that brings back memories of our besieged Religion teacher trying to organise a Secret Santa thing. Everyone drew a name at random.
I’d imagine Mike Hunt, Eric Shun, Fak Yoo, and Dick Head were pretty happy with the draw; they came up a lot of times.
I’m not allowed on _two_ counts; I lived in the UK for a while in the 80s, and therefore clearly have vCJD, and I’m gay, and therefore clearly have HIV.
Hopefully, the diseases the blood people imagine I might have will fight it out.
@Grannymar – I’ll let you off with that – just..
@Dario – My daughter was a sweet innocent then [ah! the good old days!]. She fell for it, hook line and sinker 🙂
@Robert – If they branded me as a druggie, I can see their faces if you walked in. They’d have hysterics. They are getting to the stage where they will only accept people who are convent educated virgins, have never travelled beyond their own front gate and who are vegan. And they wonder why there are no donors?
On a day off several months back, I took my son to get one of his immunisations. In that case, it was the nurses who enraged me, in much the same way as the doctor enraged you. In my case, it wasn’t that they announced something insulting in public, but that they were so presumptuous that I knew absolutely nothing about parenting because I was the father and not the mother. Like you, I was so stunned that I said nothing, but I left the surgery fuming and there’s now no way I will be going back with either of my kids – I’ll just end up being patronised and blowing a gasket. I had a long rant about it here – if you can stomach the glut of foul language – I was very very angry when I wrote it – you’ll see what I mean.
Very well written! As the Americans say – “I feel your pain”.
Slightly off the subject, but you reminded me of the time I brought my daughter to collect my disabled grandson from school. The nurse wheeled him out and beamed at me – “You must be the father. I have been hoping to meet you”.. “Actually, I’m the grandfather” says I. The nurse was mortified, and the daughter didn’t help by sniggering. I calmed her down by telling her [the nurse] that it was the nicest thing anyone had said to me in a very long time.
LOL Grandad… that happens to my parents all the time! My Dad is very young looking… if I’m out with him in public with the kids I make a point of making sure everyone knows he’s Grandad! 🙂 But you just can’t tell these days… when I went to my antenatal appts they were either approaching menopause or had just started menstruating! 🙂
Grandad I am having a good laugh about you and the nurse.
You should ask elly about this subject of age sometime!!!!
Linzi’s parents are the same age as my grandparents, and her sister and brother are ages with my mam and dad. It’s led to the occasional “Carry On” type moment when family and friends have got together.
It does lead to a lot of confusion all right. There is something in my genes [not jeans] that keeps me young looking. The only [visible] part of me that has gone grey is the beard. Herself is the same [No – not the beard bit] in that she looks to be in her early forties.
I was virtually accused of being a liar recently when I was chatting to a woman and mentioned my five year old grandson. “You’re not a grandfather!” says she looking rather annoyed. I then realised she was half chatting me up! Pity, because she was very attractive. 😉