I DID IT!!! I finally did it!!! It has been at least two years since I was last able to donate blood. Every time I tried to in that time, either my iron level was too low, they couldn’t find a plump enough vein, or they stuck me and missed my vein, or my blood flowed too slowly and they had to stop in the middle of the donation. But today, Sunday, February 23, 2014, I finally ended the draught—although, not without complications, of course.
So, I accidentally got to church too early this morning, because last night I looked up the mass schedule for my church back home, instead of the one I go to here. I’ve been absent a few weeks and I always mix up the times. Anyhow, when I realized my mistake, seeing not a single person in the long rows of pews, I noticed the Blood Drive signs, and decided, well, this must be fate. So I went over to the hall where they were conducting the blood drive, and luckily was able to squeeze right in without an appointment.
No surprise, upon the first prick for iron level, my iron level was too low. It was not terribly low though—12.2. I had hope. Though, based on experience, I knew that a re-prick didn’t necessarily guarantee my iron level to rise. Sometimes it lowered. And significantly! So, you can imagine my ecstatic reaction when my re-prick met the minimum level of 12.5.
As I got onto the bed, and they prepped me for the needle, I got nervous. It seems that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more afraid, because it’s become more painful. I thought I was just becoming more and more of a wuss; but apparently, it’s normal. The more you’ve been pricked, the more scar tissue may build up, which then may make it more painful to be stuck with a needle. Makes you kind of wonder how heroine addicts do it, but I guess that’s why they’re addicts.
It hurt, and very shortly after, the nurse was stopping it and taking it out. I got worried, and I didn’t understand what she was talking about. She said, “It stopped.” I thought, “What, how does my blood just stop flowing.” I know my blood tends to flow slowly (my dad says at least I’ll probably never bleed to death), but how does it just stop flowing period. The other nurse that came to clean it up said I started bruising right away so they had to stop.
Well, that’s a new complication I’ve not faced before. I asked them to try my other arm, and thankfully it was less painful and my blood flowed. What a relief it was to finally be able to fill up that bag again.
Of course, the story doesn’t end there. I don’t know how many blood drives I’ve walked out of without a hitch. Sure I’ll grab some water, but I rarely ever touch the snacks unless I’m actually craving Cheeze-its or something. As soon as I started to walk toward the snack table though, I got dizzy and my vision started to go. I thought, oh crap, now I’m going to be even later to mass. At that point it was only 10 after. So, I grabbed a bag of elf cookies with rainbow M&Ms—you know which ones I’m talking about. I finished the cranberry juice they had given me when we switched arms, and then grabbed a bottle of water. After finishing half the bottle of water and several cookies, I decided it was probably safe for me to go to mass now. As I walked outside I started getting slightly light-headed again, and by the time I felt like I might faint again—my vision was going and I was getting hot—I was right near my car. So I made it to my car, plopped down in the driver’s seat, and rolled down the windows. I quickly finished the rest of my water and the cookies, and just sat there until the color started coming back into my face.
I kept contemplating whether I’d be able to make it into the church for the rest of mass, or if I should just sit in the church parking lot and be at mass without actually being at mass, or just go home. I really wanted to go to mass, and to receive communion, because it has been a few weeks, and I’ve got a big week ahead of me. So, when I felt like I could, I got out of my car and headed into the front of the church. Of course, just my luck, when I walked in there was no sign of an easily accessible spot to sit down in. I was feeling okay, so at first I just stood in the back where a few others, probably also tardy folks, were standing. I was doing okay for about a minute, and then I started to feel unstable again. Eventually, when I knew I really needed to sit down, I asked a girl on the edge to make room for me, and I just plopped down in the pew while everyone was standing. I figured the people around me could see that both my arms were bandaged, obviously from donating blood, so they knew I wasn’t being rude.
Every time I tried to stand up or kneel with the rest of the congregation, I’d get dizzy again, so I’d have to sit. I wanted to sit long enough so that I’d be okay to walk up for communion. At this point that walk seemed daunting. I usually sit towards the middle or front, but this time I was all the way in the back. Well, I am happy to let you know that I made it up the line without a hitch to receive communion. Yippee.
By the time I made it back into the pews though, I was not feeling so hot, so after everyone got up to leave at the end, I sat a little longer. When I finally made it to my car, I again sat a little longer, just to be safe, because I called my man to tell him the exciting news, and I was practically panting over the phone. Sitting down I felt fine. It was only standing up that affected me.
When I got home, I quickly divulged a delicious lunch I had waiting for me.
So, there you go. That was the latest of my adventures in blood donations. Nothing terribly dramatic, but definitely an interesting one for me.
The Red Cross is in need of blood donations, and platelet donations. If you are able to, I highly encourage you to donate. 1 pint of blood saves three lives. Just remember to drink lots of water before and after your donation, and eat well.
BIG LOVE & HUGS