LOCATION: Red Cross Donation Center. Virginia Beach, VA
I will start off this post by saying that when it comes to pain, yes, I am a huge wimp. I’ve always known that though and dealt with it accordingly. It is funny the concept of my pain. Sharp pain like with needles get me every time. However, I can fracture my kneecap while hiking and be in incredible pain but still pull it together to hike out of the canyon just fine. Maybe the pain is perceptual. When I’m lying there looking at the pain, it makes it worse rather than knowing I need to get out of a certain place even with the pain, it takes my mind off of it. Mind over matter is huge, but when you are lying in a chair and you know a needle is in you, there is no way to not think about that.
My attempt to donate blood took three times. My first attempt was in May 2011. There was a blood drive at work and I registered. They did my finger prick test and my iron was too low for me to donate. The minimum requirement to donate is 12 on their stick test. They told me I was at 5. YIKES!!! Later in October of 2011, I got a tattoo, so it would be an entire year before I would be able to try again. At least I knew I needed to get my iron levels up. I tried again January 30, 2013. The week of, I was making sure I was eating plenty of iron rich foods and taking vitamins. The night before I ate steak and broccoli to make sure my levels were up. I made it to the appointment determined to give blood. The guy stuck my finger for the test and I made it! I was at a level 15! But…then I passed out. I’m not entirely sure why I passed out. I don’t like finger pricks, but I can manage it. Not to mention that just TWO days before I had my finger pricked for a free biometric testing at work and was fine. It was as if he told me I was finally able to donate and I just got scared. Whatever the case may be, it was embarrassing to pass out and not even make it to the donation chair. Thankfully Troy was there to help me out, as usual. The technician told me since I fainted I would not be able to donate this day, but to try again later. He then said something that kind of shocked me. He said, “If you try again and faint, you probably should think about not donating again. Donating isn’t for everyone. But, we do appreciate the effort.” I guess this shocked me because I’ve never heard it before. I constantly get the “you must donate. We need blood. Who cares if it hurts or makes you sick for that little moment.”
Determined to TRY to donate, I made another appointment, this time for February 10th. I walked in, got my finger pricked and survived! I was actually going to donate and was happy…a nervous happy of course. I was called to the back to start the process. The lady marked my vein and swabbed my arm with iodine for what seemed like an elongated amount of time than usual. She even timed how long she was swabbing it. She then put the tourniquet band on (which was WAY too tight) and brought out the needle. WHOA, THAT is the needle!?!? It was huge!!! I was used to the butterfly needles in normal blood procedures. I immediately wanted to run from the chair. Take apart a Bic pen. Look at the tube that holds the ink, that’s how large the needle was, no joke.
I sat still though, and boy did that really hurt when she stuck me. The blood process started. I was fine for the first minute or so, but then felt woozy. Since I was in a somewhat lying down position, I wasn’t going to fully faint. However, my eyes were going in and out of darkness. While I tried to concentrate on my breathing and keeping my eyes closed, Troy kept trying to “wake” me up and the ladies kept asking me questions. I really just wanted to be left alone though. I felt sick. The lady said my donation was going at a very small rate so she changed the tourniquet and it helped. It also helped me from feeling so woozy and I thought I’d finally get to finish this. At half a bag, my blood clotted though. Two ladies began to touch the needle site, which hurt even worse. The lady then said that she would need to adjust the needle site and possibly re-stick me. Nope, I was done. I asked her to remove everything. Once everything was removed, I was asked to lie there to help with the fainting. The lady then told me what I did not want to hear, “Since you only have half a bag, we can’t use any of it. This will be trashed.” I felt horrible. I went through all of this and nothing was going to help someone out. Not a drop. Multiple fainting spells later, I was able to stand and leave the facility. The rest of the night I spent woozy, and sitting on a couch, tired and with a headache. The first technician’s words never rang more true than now, “donating isn’t for everyone.” At least I tried though.
* Thank you Troy for accompanying me on this adventure.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: NOPE! However, if they provide a butterfly needle to do it I would. This is only because I get so incredibly sick afterwards. If I didn’t feel this bad, I would gladly donate since it does so much good.
HOW TO DO THIS: To look for donation centers or blood drives, go to http://www.redcross.org/