Saturday, Dec 17, 2016
It’s Kelly’s last day in Cuenca before she heads to the coast, so one more tour through El Centro. Our morning began with breakfast at San Sebas. This place never disappoints…biscuits and gravy, breakfast bacon burrito, cinnamon pancakes, meat lovers scramble. I don’t know what ever one else had. 😉
We wanted to take Kelly to the top of the Cathedral at Parque Calderon but the church doors were closed tight. I’ve never paid attention to what days we have gone in the church but in my mind it has always been open. This seems to be a first.
There is a Christmas fair being held behind Todos Santos church, which also has a coffee shop, so we headed that way. On our walk down Calle Large I passed a bar I haven’t seen before. Does every city have a Cheers Bar? I wonder if “everybody will know my name?” 😉
When we arrived at Todos Santos many vendors were selling their crafts and foods. We grabbed a table at the coffee shop and watched the activity while we enjoyed iced lattes.
There is a blood drive happening in Parque de Madre, a park nearby where we are at. Heidi and I are going to donate after we finish meandering around El Centro. While we were having coffee, a friend we recently met, Taylor Brooke came by.
Taylor is the reason we are donating blood today. An expat living here was in serious need of blood donation for a medical emergency. Taylor, over the last two days, has organized a huge donation response through Facebook. I don’t understand the ins and outs of blood availability in Ecuador, but I get they are still figuring it out.
For one thing, it doesn’t seem like they have a large blood bank. When people are going to need surgery that will require blood, they have to donate, or have friends donate, in advance with the blood specified who it is to be used for. I suspect in an emergency situation you may or may not get blood based on what is available. Kind of scary.
When Heidi and I arrived at the Red Cross tents we were given a form to fill out. It was all in Spanish. I could make a lot of it out but not everything. After staring at the form for several minutes I handed it back to the man and told him I didn’t understand.
He found a young Ecuadorian woman, who was in another tent doing face painting for the kids, to translate for me. This was a new experience, giving my sexual history to a complete Ecuadorian female stranger. One of the questions asks, “Do you have sex?” I just looked at her, nodded, and pointed to Heidi who was filling out her own form with another translator. She just grinned. Awkward.
One of the questions asks if you use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. I said I drink alcohol. She asked me when and I said last night. After she had a conference with the guy doing the finger sticks and more questions for me, I was cleared.
After I got my finger poked I was told to drink a glass of juice. I thought maybe my blood sugar was low, but they didn’t measure it. I finally found out that because I said I drank alcohol last night, they weren’t taking any chances that I had hypoglycemia induced from the alcohol. Oh boy, more calories…on top of last nights wine!
When I moved to the blood collection tent I was poked with a pretty large needle. It was in my right arm and the technician moved it around a bit to get the blood flowing. After a few minutes my vein clotted off, so she had to go to my left arm. Fortunately that was successful.
Heidi was following behind me and by the time she sat in the chair next to me, I was nearly finished. I had a lot of concern if Heidi was going to be able to donate because she has very small veins, and even in the States it is always a challenge for the techs to get a vein flowing with blood. I’m sure the needle was already wider than her antecubital vein.
Heidi had her own concerns about it but she forged ahead anyway. She told the translator to tell the technician that her veins are small and very near the surface. The technician poked the big needle into Heidi’s arm, moved it around a bit, and came up dry. Unfortunately Heidi will not be donating blood today. But she gets the needle stick as her consolation prize. 😮
When we finished in the blood collection tent, we were escorted to another tent for a cup of very chocolaty hot-chocolate. If we wanted to sit and rest we could, but we took our drink and headed on our way.
I was glad I was able to donate blood today. It was not like donating at our cushy Red Cross center back home in St George, but it seemed to have all the elements necessary for a sanitary donation including alcohol, gloves, and sterile technique. I don’t think it is something anyone needs to be afraid of, and regular blood donation by the public is something this country needs badly.