Journal entry: December 2, 1988 (age 19) – Red Cross
I care to belong to any club that won’t accept people like me as members. That’s why I want the Red Cross to agree to poke me with needles again.
It’s my sophomore year at SUNY Oswego, and last month, I returned to Binghamton for Thanksgiving break. I hadn’t been home all semester, and three months away still felt like a long time. I continue to get mail at my folks’ house, and Mom stacks it on the dresser in my room. (I say “my room” despite the fact that I hadn’t been away at school for more than a few weeks before she painted it pink and did it up with doilies.)
Being the type of person who wouldn’t be able to sleep with a minor task sitting within eyesight, I opened my mail almost immediately. I quickly dispensed with a Columbia House brochure, the one-way correspondence that Ed McMahon insists on continuing with me, and a chain letter that said if I broke the chain, I would one day receive exponentially more chain letters, delivered through some kind of high-tech, pneumatic tube system.
The only piece of mail worth opening was from the Red Cross. I figured it would be a thank you for the three times I’ve donated blood at school and eaten less than my quota of soothing, post-puncture cookie bars. It wasn’t.
“Dear Mr. Mollen: Your recent blood donation tested positive for hepatitis. We strongly urge you to see a physician as soon as possible for further testing and treatment. We must also ask that you no longer donate blood, as your name has been entered on our exclusion list.”
I looked at the date of the letter: September 20, 1988. I found the charitable institution’s follow-up during the two months this urgent medical notice had sat on my dresser somewhat lacking. I felt fine, but I would have been really steamed if I had died. I called our family doctor the next day, and scheduled an appointment for the Friday after Thanksgiving, or, as I like to call it, “Employers’ Yearly Swap-out-for-Veterans-Day Holiday.”
After having blood drawn at the medical complex’s outpatient lab, I winked at the receptionist and whispered, “If a white-and-red helicopter marked ‘IRC’ flies in and unloads a commando team, you never saw me.” Half an hour later, our family physician, Dr. O’Riordan, looked over the letter from the Red Cross and pointed out that it specifically mentions hepatitis B. Seeing the look of “Yeah…so?” on my face, he went on to explain that hep-B is usually transmitted through intravenous drug use or sexual activity. “But I haven’t done either,” I blurted out. “I don’t even WANT to do one of those things.”
Today, a week later, I called from school and got the lab results. There was no sign of hepatitis. This is good news, of course, but it leaves me with some disquieting questions. First, how had those jackbooted thugs at the Red Cross framed my liver, and in service to what sinister plot for one-world government? And second, where would I turn for comfort, now that opium dens, brothels, and cots with cookies were all closed to me?