It’s been a bit of a week as I continue to recover from an operation that encountered blood clotting problems and a walloping great haematoma.
Being a parent trains you to deal with pretty much any crisis. Feeling ill? Mum’s here. Want to throw up? Mum’s here. Missed the puke bowl? Never mind, Mum will clear it up. Funny tummy? Mum will see to your tail. From the moment a mother gives birth, she’s programmed to stomach dirty nappies and sicked-on sweaters. But blood? Um, no. I can’t do blood. So when my daughter uncertainly said, ‘Er, Mum, did you know your hair has gone very red?’ all common sense went out the window. Going from blonde to redhead without a trip to the hairdresser, is not something I ever want to deal with again. In the last 7 days I’ve had eighty-something mils of blood syringed out of me and, in the process, endured heart palpitations, rubber legs and an upper lip covered in sweat. What is it about blood that sends some of us keeling over?
The first time I was aware that I wasn’t a fan of blood was w-a-a-y back in my school days. I can still remember sitting, cross-legged, on the hall’s parquet floor during assembly while the headmistress enthusiastically told us about a visitor. This visitor stepped up onto the stage to have ‘a little chat’ with us all. Basically the gentleman was a scientist exploring beating heart patterns and looking for volunteers. I can still remember him smiling and saying, ‘THIS is what a beating heart sounds like!’ before pressing the play button on his tape recorder. Instantly the hall was filled with the sound of boom-boom...boom-boom. Gosh, that’s interesting, I thought, and listened rapturously to the sound of an anonymous person’s heartbeat. Except...what was that? A duet was going on with another more persistent noise. A sort of...squelchy gumboot-stuck-in-runny-mud noise. And as I sat there in my pale blue cotton uniform, I suddenly felt distinctly odd. I can still recall a teacher tapping me on the shoulder. ‘Deborah!’ (Nobody called me Deborah other than teachers and the very way it was uttered was enough to instil the deepest fear of being in trouble). ‘Deborah, come with me, you’re not well.’ I was amazed at my teacher’s ability to deduce how I was feeling. ‘How do you know?’ I asked. As I stood up, swaying, I realised my cotton uniform was wringing wet and had completely stuck to my body. And no, I didn’t volunteer for the visitor’s project. Nor have I ever been a blood donor.
My mother, a retired nurse, had always hoped my sister and I would follow her into the nursing profession (she harboured hopes of us bagging eminent surgeons as husbands and living out a Mills & Boon happy-ever-after future). However, much as helping others appeals, the thought of assisting a handsome doctor in Theatre is something that would have me swooning for all the wrong reasons. I wonder what it is that makes some of us cope so well with blood, and others run off with the screaming heebie jeebies?
Which reminds me. What do vampires use to sail cross the sea? Blood vessels...