Guys, check it: I gave blood today. LIKE A BOSS!
It took a long time again, but I’ve come to realise that is kind of par for the course when you’re a Zimbabwe-born nomad with a history of fainting. Man, they get really uptight when you mention fainting. And they get this really worried look when you start talking about your ears ringing and vision clouding, apparently they’re not cool with that at all.
So, some lessons learnt from my first ever blood donation:
1) This was probably not my first ever blood donation
Crazy huh? After a bit of a chat with the nurse I found out that my first attempt 11 years ago was probably successful. It turns out they only contact you and let you know if you’re malaria test is positive. If it’s negative, they just invite you to the next session, and you fall into the regular donor schedule. The fact that they didn’t write to me for four years was just some weird oversight.
Which is great and all, but I’ve been dining out on that story for years. What do I do with it now?
2) Not fainting requires Buns of Steel and syncopated rhythm
To reduce the risk of fainting they instructed me in some butt-clenching exercises to keep my blood pressure up, and also recommended crossing my legs one way then the other. I sat there feeling like a fidgeting, uncoordinated idiot: trying to simultaneously open and close my hand, cross and uncross my legs, and clench and unclench my bum at the varying speeds they’d suggested for each action.
It’s a wonder I didn’t fall off the bed.
3) Being a blood donor doesn’t make you special
Yeah sorry about that, but having spent two evenings in blood centres this week and trying to make appointments several times, I can tell you that the World and his Wife are out there pouring out the red stuff. It’s a regular old blood-letting.
Case in point: I saw the librarian from my UCL library there giving blood, while my sister ran into a family friend at the blood donation centre this morning. I’ve also been finding out how many of my friends are donors from their facebook comments on my blog. Which is all good because…
4) Sometimes Special isn’t so Good
I’ve always thought ‘wahey, I’m a universal donor! I’m part of just 7% of the population who are O negative, and my blood can be given to anyone. It’s like unicorn blood!’
Then I was chatting to a friend who is also O negative, who likened donating blood to putting money in the bank, or an insurance policy. Because while your blood can be given to anybody, you can’t receive any of the other blood types. And furthermore, the O neg blood stocks are always being called upon in emergency situations.
So if you’re O neg, it’s very much in your interests to give blood when you’re healthy, to increase the chance that there’s some in the bank for when you’re not.
5) Success Tastes like Lemon Squash
Buckets and buckets of the stuff. In the two hours I was at the donation centre, I don’t think I was ever without a glass of water or squash in my hand. I’ve also eaten enough biscuits to turn me into a jammy dodger. I should be sugared up to the eyeballs, but of course I’m actually very tired.
I’m going to go sleep the sleep of a lifesaver.