I’m not sure if Sarah asked, “Do you want to go donate blood with me?” or if it was more of a statement like, “You should donate blood with me!”
Either way, I was somehow convinced to donate blood Friday.
If you have read this blog long enough, you will recall that I made it my New Year’s Resolution two years ago to donate blood. And, I failed.
Well, folks, I can now officially say that I achieved that resolution. (With the thanks to Sarah and Ragan).
The three of us took the elevator down six floors to the room that the Puget Sound Blood Center was set up in at our work. I told the two of them that I was nervous. They smiled and said something along the lines of everything would be great.
We checked in, showed our IDs. As I filled out the electronic form asking questions like whether or not I had traveled outside the U.S. or used needles or whatnot, a part of me thought I could just lie so that I wouldn’t be eligible to donate.
Of course, I didn’t do that.
There was the small inclining of “hope” that my iron level would be too low to donate, just as it was last time.
The phlebotomist did the finger prick to get a sample of my blood to do the iron test. I passed. I was at 44, which she said was “very good” for a female my size. (Guess the iron supplements are doing their job!)
Ragan ironically couldn’t donate because her iron level wasn’t high enough. She had never been rejected for low iron and was surprised. So, instead of donating, she got to be my cheerleader.
Sarah was across the room from me on a cot already getting her blood drawn/taken. As the phlebotomist gathered her supplies and prepared to stick me, she asked me how I was doing.
“I’m really nervous,” I said.
She told me to just breathe. As some Elton John song played from the radio in the corner, I started to feel sweaty. She stuck me and the prick wasn’t as bad as I expected. It felt just like a prick from a “normal doctor visit blood draw.”
She again asked me how I was doing.
“Good. I just don’t want to see ANY of my own blood,” I said.
She chuckled and covered my arm with a sheet. Once it was covered, I turned my head to look over at Sarah. I was doing it!
I’m not sure how long it took for them to gather all the blood they needed but it seemed like “a while.” Ragan sat next to me but now I honestly don’t remember what we talked about.
I was worried that I would feel weak or light-headed after the draw since it was my first time AND I hadn’t had a particularly big lunch. OK, OK, all I ate was a granola bar and a pear … what, I wasn’t planning on donating that day!
I stood up and felt fine. Sarah, Ragan and I sat at the table with all the snacks and drinks and consumed some juice and cookies. I of course got my “first time donor” sticker and Ragan added a zero to Sarah’s sticker to turn it into a “10th time donor” one.
About 30 minutes later, it was back to work and I went down to our lab to process blood from a study visit earlier in the afternoon. I have no problem looking at other people’s blood. I don’t get queasy drawing other people’s blood. But for some reason when the needle is pointing at me, I freak out.
But, I did it, with no major freak outs. And, that blood of mine will save three adults (or six babies!)
It wasn’t a bad experience. I definitely am glad I got a phlebotomist who knew what she was doing — I wasn’t left with a bruise or anything!
However, I would advise others to eat a proper meal before donating blood.
Later that evening, I nearly fainted while walking on the streets of downtown Seattle. Bryce and I ate dinner at South Lake Union and afterwards I suddenly got the worst pain I had ever experienced in my stomach. It felt like a cramp that was going to explode.
“If this is the end, at least I ended by doing something good for others,” I dramatically thought to myself.
We got on the trolley to take it into Westlake. While riding, I started to “not feel well.” I was getting warm and began perspiring. At a stop, prior to the one we intended to get off at, I told Bryce that we needed to get off immediately.
As soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk, I felt weak. My vision was getting dark and blotchy. I grabbed onto Bryce and managed to make my way to a nearby outdoor chair and table. (Gotta love Seattle and its appropriately placed public furniture). I sat and put my head on the table and closed my eyes. Bryce went — and I assume dramatically ran — to a nearby drugstore to get me a Vitamin water.
By the time he came back, I could see normally again. My body felt like it was at its normal temperature as well. I took some sips of the water but really didn’t feel like drinking a lot since the cramp in my stomach was making me feel like I really had to pee (although I really did not).
We slowly made our way to Safeco Field. I made a big stink beforehand for us to not be late to the game and here I was causing our tardiness. Whoops.
By the time the game was over around 10 p.m., I was spent. I was done.
But, you know what, I FINALLY did something I have been oh-so-scared to do so I am pretty darn proud of that. And, it is something that can actually save lives.
Will I do it again?
I won’t say never but I’m also not going to be knocking at the blood bank’s door in eight weeks either.