Today was my first time.

Well, alright, it was my first proper time. I did try once before, but there were a few technical glitches, due to a combination of factors among which were the facts that it was very cold, and I hadn’t drunk enough. We were forced to abandon the attempt before actually getting to the point of insertion, which was rather disappointing; and did, I must admit, discourage me from trying again.

However, today I decided that it could hardly go any worse than last time, swallowed my nerves and agreed to try again. There was rather a lot of pursing of lips involved, and the sort of expression that says “I really really hope this works…” was everywhere. I suffer, you see, from being rather narrow – or, as it was put today, “bloody tiny”. In fact, only one of the people I’ve spoken to about it was even willing to try, once he’d discovered just what “tiny” means in my case. Brave man. So, once he’d agreed and I’d gathered up my courage, I spent 40 minutes or so chugging from a large bottle like there was no tomorrow, and finally left my bottle, bag, and so on in a corner and climbed onto the bed.

The first thought that crossed my mind was “I’m too tall for this bed” – either my heels dangled off the end of it, or the pillow was neatly supporting my shoulderblades, with my head lolling around like that of a Jack-in-the-Box. I decided on the former. There was a few minutes of fussing about, and then the moment of truth; there was some worry that it wouldn’t work it all, me being so tiny and those things they stick in you being rather large, but it did go in – though it hurt like hell, as predicted. Once it was in properly, it didn’t hurt quite so much; but I was left with the dilemma of either holding completely still, which didn’t hurt but also doesn’t yield great results, or letting myself go with the flow, which is much more effective but results in sharp stabs of pain every time I move the wrong way. I negotiated with these two options for about five minutes, and then at last we were finished. It was an interesting experience, which left me somewhat lightheaded and with a horrible case of pins and needles – inevitable, really, with so much squeezing.

Nevertheless, I do feel rather good about myself, now I’ve got a full compliment of plasters (the band-aid variety, that is) and I’m out of that ugly community centre hall. Staring up at a dirty ventilation conduit isn’t a fascinating way to pass those five minutes, I’m afraid; and once we got started I couldn’t reach the book I’d brought.

I strongly recommend this experience to pretty much anyone. Donating blood is certainly a worthwhile use of an afternoon, although having tiny veins is a pain in the arse.