I noticed the sign as soon as I walked into the university today.
“Give blood, 9am-2pm, Canadian Blood Services”
I paused for a moment. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a medical phobia. Not only pertaining to needles, this particular phobia covered everything from hospital shows on T.V., to even thinking about getting blood work done. It was because of this, that 5 years ago I set out on a quest, determined to rid myself of the fainting spells that had taken over every time I tried to watch Grey’s Anatomy.
After working with an amazing therapist, I went from not being able to even enter a hospital, to getting blood work done with ease. It was because of this progress that I decided it was time to tackle the ultimate challenge: 15 minutes with a needle in my arm, donating blood.
I had been wanting to donate for as long as I can remember, and with this opportunity so easily as my fingertips, I decided today was the day I should go through with it.
Nervously, but pumped full of adrenaline at this point, I approached the registration table. A very kind lady grabbed some information from me, and told me to take a seat until I was called to station 1. I glanced around the room, there were 3 stations you had to get through until the actual blood drawing process, and I wondered if that extra wait was going to make me lose my nerves.
I went quickly through station 1 and 2, which brought me to the screening booth. After a finger prick and a couple of other tests, I was sent to wait to get into a chair. Alright. This was it. No going back now, they had my name and number.
“Number 33!” Here we go. I got up and happily walked over to the chair. The woman (friendly again) explained the process and I nodded in succession, hoping that the talking part would soon be over and we could get it done and over with. In no time, the needle was in my arm. I felt completely ok, and a sense of relief washed over me. After the blood started flowing, I whipped out my phone and went straight to Netflix, fairly certain that the distraction would help any part of my mind that wasn’t agreeing with this process. About 5 minutes had gone by, and I was feeling pretty good.
And then it happened. Everything started to get loud, my body started to sweat, and I could feel the lightheadedness washing over me. I tried to fight it so hard, but when it happens, it’s quick. I called the nurse over, and she quickly removed the needle, laid me flat, and threw a damp cloth on my head. I didn’t actually faint, but they need to stop the process as soon as you start to feel unwell.
I was so disappointed! I found out there was just under the required amount needed to use for donation, but that it could be used for other testing purposes instead. I was feeling frustrated with myself, but as the nurse explained this can happen quite often with first time donors due to the drop in blood pressure, I felt slightly better. She told me to start drinking lots of juice a couple of days before I donate again, and to make sure you’ve had a good meal. “No problem there”, I thought.
As I walked out, I was handed a “I donated” pin. I wondered if there was a “I came pretty close to filling up the whole bag” pin I could have instead.
So, in 84 days, I’ll try again. This time perhaps a little more hydrated.