Friday, April 11, 2008

Save a life: Practically painless

Today I donated blood for the very first time. It was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. If you have never done it, let me tell you how it went.

  1. I made an appointment online.
  2. I showed up for my appointment at 9:30. I walked into a blood services building. The donor room was very large and open. From the doorway you could see the receptionist's desk. To the left was a waiting area, directly behind her was the donation area (you can see all of the people donating), and to the right the snack area. After signing in, they gave me a booklet to read about who can and cannot give blood. I sat down and read it. Then I gave it back to the receptionist.
  3. Someone in a white coat was watching me to see when I was ready and then took me back to a little room. She asked me for my picture ID, and asked for my SSN, full name, birth date, address, etc. Then she pricked my finger to make sure I had enough... well, I forget what it was... white blood cells, maybe... anyway she put it in a little machine and counted them. She also took my blood pressure, pulse and temp. Then she had me answer some questions on the computer (about my personal habits: sex, diseases, travel, medications, etc.). I notified her when I was done. Then she asked for my name and SSN again. Then she asked me to verify that all of my personal info was correct on her paper. Then, that part was finished and she brought me back out to sit in a chair to wait for a bed to open up. That whole process took about 10 minutes and I waited in the chair for about 2.
  4. A woman called me over to a bed. She verified my name and info again. Then she put a blood pressure cuff on me, marked my vein with a marker, washed the area with iodine (you can tell them if you are allergic to it). She had me hold a ball, she poked me, it hurt for a few seconds. I relaxed and was suppose to squeeze the ball gently every 5 seconds. I forgot to do that after a minute. Then 7 minutes and 19 seconds later (apparently, people like to know how long it took them to fill the bag - maybe so they can beat their time next time! - Is that possible?), I was finished. She clamped off the tube, and pulled out the needle (it hurt for 1/2 a second). Then I held gauze to it and held my arm in the air. She wrapped the gauze on with my choice of wrap color (blue), told me what to look for and/or do within the next five hours of the day, and sent me off to the snack area. All during the part where I laid on the bed (which was upright and more like a dentist-type chair), she never left me. She busied herself with things, chatted, and asked me if I was all right.
  5. The snack area was a grouping of tables and chairs. there was a counter full of pre-packaged treats: fig newtons, pretzels, trail mix, chocolate chip cookies, Lorna Doone, etc. There was also a fridge full of cans of juice (I had Welch's peach/grape juice) and waters. I sat at a table read over my after-care instruction and ate fig newtons and trail mix and drank my juice. You can have as many treats as you want!
  6. That was it! I feel fine, I was never nauseous or dizzy. I can donate again in 56 days.

I donated whole blood. In a month or two I should get a donor card in the mail that has my blood type on it. If I am A or AB (I think those are the two- don't quote me on it) I can give platelets next time. Giving platelets takes much longer (a few hours) and you can do it every 3 days (max: 24 times a year). The platelet donors were set up with movies and headphones.


Mike McCarthy said...

Is it sad that reading that made me light headed??? take my blood, thats fine, just don't let me know its coming....hit me or something.


Janalu said...

Ok your starting to make us look bad. I mean running a marathon, advoacting for autsism, saving the world a little at a time. For christmas I'm getting you a cape.

Lisa said...

Mike - don't be a wuss!

Jana - I TOTALLY need a cape! It would go great with my "crazy lady persona". The other day I was running with Fischer in the stroller, my two 90 pound dogs on leash (I'm screaming at them "Don't pull - you are breaking my arm off!) and I am sprinting at break neck speed to catch up with the garbage truck that Fischer spotted. We need to catch up to it so that we could see it "pick up cans, dump in hopper". The cape would have made that moment SOOO much more freakish! My birthday comes before Christmas. Start knitting! Nothing weird about a lady running around on her 31st birthday with a knitted cape, right? Anyway, shut up, you are making me feel like a whacko.

Angela said...

Good for you! I saw the bloodmobile on my campus Tuesday and so went for my lunch break to donate. It only pinches for a second and you totally get pampered while donating. They're so nice and offer snacks and juice and it's nice to be treated nice!

Just to clarify, the thing they checked you for at the beginning was your iron count. If you're iron is too low (possibly anemic) they can't take your blood. Mine was borderline this last time. I eat red meat and lots of spinach, but apparently I need to add in a multivitamin with iron too.

Hmm, maybe I'll put together a post about the donation too. It's so nice to be able to do something for people that doesn't require money.

Jenny said...

Here's some trivia for you. Did you know I'm not allowed to give blood? Why? Because I lived in England for a long period of time (four years) when I was a child. England is a country where there have been outbreaks of Mad Cow Disease and if you have lived there for a long period of time you are not allowed to donate. I've tried three separate times to donate, hoping the requirements had changed, but they haven't. Crazy that I haven't lived there for 25 years and they still won't let me donate. Oh well,,, more of my blood for me!

Lisa said...

Jenny - You might have Mad Cow Disease??? This changes everything!

Jenny said...

But it explains so much,,, right?