I reached a milestone yesterday: I donated my 24th pint of blood — 3 gallons!1 I used to have a rule: no talking about needles while I’m driving.2 We want to keep the driver conscious. I decided my fear of needles wasn’t optimal and decided to donate blood to get over it.
I also beat my goal of giving blood four times this year by 50%.
I’d like to say, “I am not a wimp” — but I am. After donating blood two or three times without issues, I decided to give blood sitting up, like everyone else does. Bad idea. After nearly filling the bag, I could feel the blood drain from my face. I alerted the workers and they got me lying flat with my feet elevated. Ah…
Oh well. I filled the bag. It didn’t hurt. And I saved up to three lives.
I donated to one of my favorite charities today and it didn’t cost me anything. Yup, I gave blood. You can, too, even if like me you’re a wimp. Here are my time-tested tricks for survival:
Drink a lot. I make sure I drink a lot of water for a few days before and then more afterward.
Tell them you’re a wimp. They’ll treat you extra special.1
Lie down on the cot backward. Most people have their head above their feet. Not me. I lie flat and have them elevate my feet. I haven’t had an issue with feeling faint since I started doing this.
Relax when they insert the needle. It probably won’t hurt. They had to stick me twice today2 and I barely felt the first one. Getting the hemoglobin finger prick hurts more. Removing the self-sticky bandages hurts more. Today’s second stick stung a little this time, but still nothing to write home about.3 Apparently, there’s some sort of anticoagulant on/in the needle which can sting a little. You’ll live. ;-)
Once the needle is in, talk to the person drawing your blood. It will keep your mind off the big steel needle jabbed in your arm draining away your life blood. Okay, it’s not that bad, but staying distracted is still a good thing. In fact, I believe this is the best suggestion I have for you. You might even find they’re fun to talk to.
Brag about it when you’re done. You deserve it!
Do this enough times and you won’t be the wimp you think you are.
…and the American Red Cross is making it even easier.
I got back to my cube after a lunchtime walk to find an e-mail from the American Red Cross. In this e-mail was a link “Click here to make an appointment.” I clicked the link and logged in to my Red Cross profile. (I’ve given blood before, which is why the Red Cross had my e-mail address.)
I was presented with a choice of donation events, so I clicked on one that fit my schedule and selected a convenient time. The site showed me a map including directions from the address I have in my profile and gave me a calendar link. One more click, press save, and the appointment is in my Outlook calendar.
Because of this process, the Red Cross has me scheduled to donate blood 56 days after the last time — the minimum allowed.
Update: I just checked my e-mail and there’s a confirmation of the appointment with links for directions, changing the appointment, or adding it to my calendar. There’s also contact information should I want to talk to a human. I continue to be impressed. :-)