A few weeks ago, I looked on the NHS website and found the next available date to give blood, which I promptly put in the calendar on my phone. For some reason, the alarm didn’t go off to remind me when the day rolled around and I missed it. The next available Donor Day I couldn’t make as I was at work and so I put the third available Donor Day in my calendar: today. I noticed the event early this morning and thus had it in my mind all day that I was going to give blood, as it is something that has been on my bucket list for some time. But why?
When I told my grandparents and my mum, they all asked me why I wanted to, as did my boyfriend when I said I’d meet him after work and he could accompany me. Honestly, I couldn’t think of an answer. Because I want to. My motivations are completely selfish if you ask me: I did it to feel good about myself, to know that I could have possibly helped save someone’s life. But whether they are selfish or not, it is a good deed. And this is how my ordeal went.
I got to the appropriate place at 4:25 so I could (hopefully) get one of the early walk-in appointments as the session started at 4:30. Or so I thought. It turns out the session earlier in the day had ran over so they were 20 minutes late in starting this one. I was let loose in the building at 4:50 and registered at 4:55 to give blood. The gentleman told me that the next available appointment was 5:55, which was a bit of a pain but I decided it was worth it as this is something I have wanted to do for a while and didn’t know when I’d next be able to do this. 6:15 rolled around and I still hadn’t been seen. My boyfriend had finished work over two hours ago and all he had done since then was sit around and wait with me. I profusely apologised as I know this wasn’t how he had imagined spending his Tuesday evening and I did say he could go home and leave me, but he didn’t (he’s a good egg, really).
It wasn’t until one of the nurses saw me, came over and confirmed that we had been waiting since the start of the session that things started to get rolling. She called me over to the cubicle virtually straight away and another nurse saw to me, going through the questionnaire about eligibility to give blood and finally taking my finger for the haemoglobin test. I covered my eyes when she started to wipe my finger but still managed to shriek “OUCH!” when she pricked my finger (to say I am a wimp is a gross understatement!). She dropped some of my blood into a solution and it sank, which meant I was good to go. I went over to another area to wait a further 20 minutes before being called over to one of the beds.
One of the nurses checked my blood pressure and told me that another nurse would be over shortly. So there was more waiting. The initial nurse (the one who came over when she noticed my boyfriend and I had been waiting since the start of the session) was busy but still managed to ask someone to start my blood donating service, which I thought was quite sweet of her as she was conscious I had been waiting.
A new nurse came over to take my blood and he seemed lovely, joking with me about my job and trying to make me feel at ease. Considering I almost fainted just talking about an injection a few years ago, I think I did pretty well not to cry, scream or shout as the actual needle went in. It was fairly uncomfortable afterwards, feeling the needle and seeing the hole in my arm where a piece of metal was sticking out, but it was manageable. I lay there flexing my hand and clenching my butt cheeks (they tell you to do that, I swear!) and when the nurse came back to check on me, he asked who I came with. I said I had come with my boyfriend and the nurse invited him to come and sit with me. By this point, I didn’t have long left on the time – I was about 380ml into my 470ml donation. However, it was also at this point that I starting feeling bleh.
My stomach suddenly felt uncomfortable and I found myself wishing the blood drops away. By the time I had reached 470ml, I was feeling quite queazy. I tried to keep it to myself and convince myself that I was fine, but I heard ringing in my ears and my vision started to go a bit blurred so I mentioned something to the nurse. He called another person over and they both attended to me, the initial nurse removing the needle to apply a bandage and then lowering the chair/bed so my head was below my body while the other nurse fanned me with a clipboard. The clipboard nurse asked me a few questions about what I’d eaten and drank that day and concluded that my faintness was probably just due to giving blood and not a result of poor nutrition or hydration. After a few minutes, a wet paper towel on my head and five officials nursing me, I was set upright again. I remained in the chair for another few minutes before moving to another part of the room where I received yet another glass of squash (my third glass of squash and fourth drink of my time there) and some Bourbon biscuits! I had spent enough time lying upside down that I felt fine by the time I had eaten so 3 hours after my boyfriend finished work and 2.5 hours after the donating session was due to start, I was on my way home, bandaged in two places with stories to tell my colleagues tomorrow!
P.S., it is very hard trying to take a picture of your inner elbow with your non-dominant hand – I swear SLRs aren’t meant for lefties!
– Taisie ♥