Or something negative, depending on what the results come back and say (positive or negative blood type, just in case the joke wasn’t clear). But the thing I did was a positive thing, I GAVE BLOOD! Yes, I am officially a blood donor.
I have waited years to be able to give blood but I have always had trouble with weight or iron levels. But I finally took the plunge as I knew I was well within the weight limit, I just had to try and ensure I had enough iron in me before I donated. And I did! I finally got to give something back. I finally got to do something for someone else in need. Or to help science. Whichever my blood helps, it is still helping.
I honestly thought I would never get the chance to donate blood especially as of recently. I had 2 appointments booked in before the session I had on Thursday but I had to change them because I got ill before one and another thing came up for the other one. Nothing was going to get in the way of this one.
My mum was an absolute babe and as she was already off work (perks of being a teacher, hey!) she volunteered to come with me and be some moral support, which was super sweet of her.
For those of you who aren’t sure about the process of giving blood and that is what is putting you off giving then I will give a quick insight into what happens and how painless the whole thing is. And for those that already know or don’t want to know, then up to you whether you read on or not.
A couple of weeks before my appointment I received a letter in the post reminding me of my appointment and attached to it was a health questionnaire asking some very detailed and personal questions. It contained things such as if you were on any prescribed pills, if you’d been ill, been to the dentist or the doctors in the past seven days, whether you had been outside of the UK in the last three months, questions about your sex life and family relations and finally if you had ever lived outside the UK for a period of 6 months plus.
This form was later used in the health screening on the day of donation. But more about that when I get there.
So, form filled in, I just now had to hope I didn’t get any sort of illness and that my iron levels would stay level.
Finally, the day arrived. I was gonna donate a pint of my blood, at last! I turned up for my slot just after 3pm and registered. I was handed a leaflet (more like a booklet) explaining what would happen throughout the hour slot I had for my donation. There was a 25 minute delay, but I had the booklet and my mother to keep me company. The booklet was actually really interesting and very informative. It said what they used your blood for, whether it is to help those who need a transfusion such as those in an accident or those affected by cancer or for scientific purposes. By donating you gave your consent for your blood to be used for either purpose.
It spoke about the process of the day, what the point of the health screening and questionnaire were for (to ensure you were suitable to give blood basically) and most important why you needed to drink 500ml of water straight before giving blood (apparently it helps your well being) and the exercises to do whilst giving blood to help circulation and again ensure your well being. The exercises were wiggling the feet and crossing and uncrossing them and clenching your bum and leg muscles for five seconds and then releasing. Again all for your own good.
It also explained what each coloured uniform meant that you’d see throughout your donation. The light blue uniforms did the health screenings and the dark blue dealt with the actual procedure of blood donation.
Booklet read, water being worked through, I was called to the health screening. I started following the nurse, then realised I had left the form with mum so had to run back and the nurse hadn’t realised and it was all very embarrassing when she turned round and I wasn’t there and she was looking for me. Only I could embarrass myself that easily and quickly! (It gets a lot more embarrassing so brace yourselves).
The health screening was very quick and painless (actually I lie, there was pain involved). Questions gone through on the sheet and answers given for those that yes ticks next to them, with the answers all clear, I could get my finger pricked to test my iron levels, Yes! This pin prick was not gentle, it was bloody painful and it actually was throbbing hours later in the evening. But it was quite cool to watch. This tiny pin prick produced a fair amount of blood (not even a ml probably but looked a lot) and they sucked it up with a pipette and dropped a couple of drops into a solution that tested the iron levels. The nurse popped it in, then her face went a bit strange, she held her breath and then finally let it out and said ‘Phew, it wasn’t sure but your blood droplets have finally started falling although a bit slow, but your iron is just the right level to donate’ YES! YES! YES! The hurdle holding me back I finally jumped over, skimmed the top of it but I did it all clear. Next, what arm would be best for the veins. Now I have very prominent and visible veins so doctors and nurses always like me when I need to do blood tests so either arm was suitable to use. Screening done, I could go take my seat in the final waiting chair ready to be called up the fancy chairs to give blood.
The nurse was lovely, she saw I was with my mum and asked if I would like her to sit with me whilst I donated and called her over. Everyone was so friendly, it made the procedure so much more enjoyable and less nerve racking.
I was taken to a chair. Now, these chairs are quite fancy and very comfy, tempted to invest in one instead of an armchair. They’re blue and have a cushion head rest and one just below the knees. The chair is like an S shape and it can be moved to lay all the way back or sit up straight. Honestly, these chairs were brilliant, I don’t feel like I am doing them any justice.
Anyway, another nice nurse (this time in a dark blue uniform) came over, introduced herself and asked my name. Looked at my questionnaire and took my blood pressure. All still good, so cuff put on my arm to help raise the vein and the needle was inserted. The procedure had started.
Now, I had another issue here. So iron was all fine, but now my blood decided to slow down and the machine was bleeping saying I had dropped below the 30ml target so the nurse gave me a cardboard roll (bit like a toilet roll) to squeeze within my hand and thankfully my blood sped right up and was doubled the 30ml minimum within seconds so the nurse was content to leave me but said she would keep an eye out for me and thanked me for giving blood. Everyone there was so appreciative that you were giving blood as if it was something heroic. Maybe it is as I read that 96% of people who can give blood rely on the 4% of people to donate. Whether this figure is still relevant or not, it is amazing just how few people do give blood.
I spoke to mum throughout the ten minutes that it took for the bag to fill up. It was quite cool as you are put back a bit in the chair and there’s a machine next to you with the bag of blood filling up below. It sits on a little tray that moves from side to side and measures the blood and the speed it is filling up. It was good fun to watch and I actually managed to look at my arm and watch the blood drain out without a single feeling of queasiness.
Ten minutes up and another nurse came and took the needle out of my arm and slowly sat me up. Explained that I wasn’t to do any strenuous activity or hold or lift anything heavy with the arm, and to rest basically.
Now, here comes the ultra embarrassing part. Blood bag taken. Leaflet explaining what to do after donation done, it was time to get the juice and biscuits. I was dead excited for this bit, you can’t go wrong with a free biccy. Of course it was to help your well being in terms of sugar levels and hydration but still I was excited. I got up out of the chair, started feeling stupidly hot, I felt sweat pouring out of places I didn’t even know it could and the next thing I knew I couldn’t hear the nurse next to me talking and I couldn’t see anything in front of me and then I was on the floor, being surrounded by nurses, curtains being pulled around me, a fan being pulled round and two cool packs placed under and around my neck. I have never felt so embarrassed. What a flaming wuss I was. A tear did trickle from my eye because I was so shocked it happened as I felt fine the whole time donating and also because I was just so embarrassed. It took a while for me to focus and really come back round and I was sat on the floor (more like laying) with my legs on a chair raised whilst I cooled down.
My mum told me afterwards, I was white. But when I fell apparently my forehead went bright red, I guess that’s because the blood goes rushing back there? (If you know the real reason for this please let me know). So after five mins on the floor I was transferred to the chair once again and had a juice and crisps (not a biscuit because I needed to get my salt levels up unfortunately) to help. Ten mins or so later, I just wanted to get out of there because I was embarrassed. Everyone, again was so caring, helpful, friendly and understanding and honestly they were just amazing. They really deserve so much praise. It can’t be easy doing that job day in and out but they do it perfectly and always with a smile and so much care.
I was exhausted the rest of the evening and the day after I still didn’t feel quite right but it hasn’t put me off. I am waiting for my results to see if my blood was okay and once I get that confirmation I will be booking my next appointment for 16 weeks time. It was the best thing I have ever done and such a positive experience.
I just want to thank the lovely ladies that I came across that day who couldn’t have possibly done anymore or been even more friendly. You ladies are amazing and you really deserve so much recognition for what you do, and how much you help, educate and care for others. Thank you.
Thank you also to those other donors that took time out of their day to donate. Everyone has busy lives and may not feel comfortable donating blood but they did it anyway and they are helping so many others by doing that act.
Thanks to mother too for dealing with such a dramatic daughter, I am sorry you always have to catch me when I fall, but thank you for always being there when I do.
Giving blood, an experience that is full of positivity and care. I can’t wait to do it again, see you in December Public Hall for part 2 of the donation!
Not Quite Made Girl