Wednesday, 14 January 2015

It's all about that blood

I know, I know, not my most catchy-ish of titles, but it was this or some other dodgy blood related one!! So, first off, this isn't some gruesome tale that involves alot of blood and gore, sorry if that's what you were after (!). This is the tale of me and my experience going to donate blood for the very first time. There are no dodgy photos and this isn't a preachy blog post urging you to go and do it. If you fancy reading about my experience of giving blood, or, if you have ever thought of donating before but haven't been sure, then this is the blog post for you. Now we have cleared all of that up, let's get started! 

Back in December, in the midst of my blogging every day for Blogmas, I pledged to go and give blood. I wanted to go and do something for someone else during a season when it can feel a bit over commercial. I wanted to do something that would actually make a difference to someone else and hopefully show my daughter that Christmas isn't all about the presents. Ahhh, me and my bright ideas. My well laid plans certainly did not go to plan (they rarely do), and I found myself, after a week of worry, being turned away at the donor centre because the blood donation session was full!!! Argh! You can read all about that little escapade here.

Now I am not going to lie.  Giving blood worried me.  This was no walk in the park for me.  But don't you find that those moments that you feel most challenged by are sometimes the moments that you look back on and feel the proudest of? This felt like it could be one of those moments. And did you know that giving blood can save up to three lives? Fact. 

I had already signed up to the blood donation website where you can find out your local times and venues, and when one popped up near my home, I felt I had to go and do it. The very moment I clicked 'book', my nerves returned. As with most things in life, the thought of doing something is way worse than the actual event. (Hmmm, maybe with the exception of child birth?!) And as someone with a very over active imagination, I had already imagined the worst.  I imagined fainting, of my arm dropping off, of being sick all over the nurse - a bit like in the exorcist, of falling off the chair and other such completely believable scenarios (!!!).  

The big day finally came and I arrived very nervous.  As I had booked my session online this time there was no chance of me being turned away. I registered at the desk and went to take a seat in the waiting area.  When you book an appointment online they send you all the paperwork through the post and it saves time filling the forms out when you arrive.  I had to drink a big cup of water to help replace the fluids I would lose during the donation and during this time my two year old daughter performed a rendition of chim-chim-cheree from Mary Poppins which was nice. (N.B. I can't guarantee she will be there for you if you donate, but I am considering hiring her out for the waiting room!). 


Next, I was called into a private area and was asked questions to screen if I was suitable to give blood.   My finger was pricked to test my iron levels. A drop of my blood was placed into a copper sulphate solution and if it sinks to the bottom it shows you iron levels are OK for you to donate. (And you know this bit doesn't really hurt because I'm taking pictures at the same time!!).  


However, I won't get too cocky as my ability to then take a good picture of my drop of blood sinking in the tube was a fail!! Sorry for the poor quality. I felt I had to include this photograph as the lovely nurse did the test twice for me so I could get a good shot!!!


After the test I went out to sit on a couch and I was placed in a semi-upright position ready for the donation.  A blood pressure cuff was placed around my arm to maintain a little bit of pressure and then the nurse found a good vein. Obviously you can feel a pinching sensation, but really, it was nothing.  


I won't lie.  I didn't look down at my arm once.  I just didn't want to see it.  But I can honestly say, it was absolutely fine!!! Yes, there was a little bit of pressure of my arm, but that was literally it.  I didn't feel faint, I wasn't in pain and I didn't feel sick.  They ask you to do several exercises during your donation to help reduce your risk of fainting, like clenching your hand, clenching your bum cheeks (!) and moving your feet.  Obviously not one to risk fainting and erring on the side of caution I clenched away like my life depended on it! 


The process of actually having the blood taken took about five to ten minutes.  That is all!!! I thought I was going to be hooked up all day! It really was over before I knew it and I had donated just under a pint. And then its the bit you all know is coming, I was escorted to have a well earned drink and a bourbon biscuit. 


Apart from having a bit of a sore arm for the rest of the day, I felt absolutely fine.  The staff were really a credit to the blood service. From checking in to the actual donation, they couldn't have been nicer. And you know what? Everyone thanked me for going to give my blood.  Even on my way out, a nurse who I hadn't seen said thank you to me for attending.  How absolutely lovely.  I mean I didn't want a red carpet and an award or anything, but feeling like you have done something great, well, it makes you feel great. 

I don't want this post to come across as preachy or to make you feel like you have to go and give blood.  Its a personal and individual choice. All I will say is that if you are even considering it, then go and do it. Coming from someone who worried for a whole week about this, it was absolutely fine and I will definitely be going back to donate again. You can find the UK Give Blood website here where you can find out more and find your local sessions. And what better way to start the year than to donate blood to help someone, somewhere, who really needs it? 


"When you give blood you give another birthday, 
another anniversary, 
another day at the beach, 
another night under the stars, 
another talk with a friend, 
another laugh, 
another hug, 
another chance", 
American Red Cross. 



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37 comments:

  1. Ah fantastic, well done!! Such a fantastic thing. I couldn't give blood unfortunately, as I struggle to part with my blood for my own blood tests, usually takes a few nurses to come in and try and at least 4 holes in each arm before they get any!! :(

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  2. Well done, the first time is always the hardest - I'm giving my 10th pint next week and every time I've been the staff are so lovely. At our local centre you get a packet of crisps too...it's definitely the best bit!!!

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    1. Wow! That's amazing! Yes completely agree I think that first time, as its the unknown, is the hardest! x

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  3. Well done you! The first time you give blood is always scary - I made my best friend come with me, because I didn't want to go it alone.

    Sadly, I had to retire from giving blood (yes, you actually retire. They give you a certificate and everything), but it's such a good thing to do and wish I still could!

    Beccy || Bluebell & Bumpkin

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    1. Thank you! And get you with your retirement certificate!!! :-) x

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  4. I fell off the blogging wagon in December(up until now really), so never managed to see you succeed at your blogmas..Sorry!

    Last week whilst in town I mentioned that I was feeling peckish, so my husband decided to whisk me up to the hospital to give blood and get a free biscuit (he's thoughtful like that!)

    It was actually my first time, so I too was a bit nervous, but I needn't have been as my blood iron levels were too low. My husband was the same, although he was fine last year when he gave blood (last year when we went up I was having dental treatment so I couldn't donate then either!).

    We thought we ate a healthy diet, but maybe not! Am reevaluating it at the moment and will try to donate again in a couple of months time.

    The thought that just a pint of blood and a few moments discomfort can save a life makes it all worth while.

    I love that you managed to get some great photos of you donating blood, I have a feeling that my face would have been void of all colour (if I had managed to stay conscious, will hopefully be proved wrong next time!).

    #MMWBH

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    1. Aww thanks Debbie. Hope you manage to boost your iron levels for next time! It's such a worthwhile thing to do x

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  5. Such a great thing to do. You've got me singing "All about that blood, bout that blood, no treble"!!! That poem at the end sent a shiver through me.Great post and I love that you took pictures! xx #MMWBH

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    1. Thank you so much! Sorry I got that song in your head!!! x

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  6. Good for you doing this. I'm not good with giving blood in blood tests, so never have done and now I'm on warfarin I'm off the hook. It's nice how you feel appreciated, and a great experience to share so others know what it's like #sharewithme

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  7. Congratulations!!! I remember your first experience of being turned away bless you. You did a great thing and way to be brave. I am scaredy cat! lol Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

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    1. Thank you so much Jenny and really proud I finally got to do it! x

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  8. Well done you, you should be really really proud of yourself. I used to give blood fairly regularly and I always found it a relatively easy way to do some good!! However, I always found that the set up of the donations I went to was very poorly organised, they were constantly delayed and turning people away (even with appointments) which seems such a shame when they always need donations!!
    The last time I went I was told I was not allowed to do it again as I reacted very badly (never had done before) I was really upset as I know it's such a great thing to do and as you said really can save lives!!!
    Great post, I am sure that there will be people who read your post who are now inspired to go give blood!! X

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    1. Oh no...sorry to hear you can't donate anymore. You are right, it is such a worthwhile thing to do. I can't believe I was so nervous! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. x

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  9. Well done on giving blood - it can be quite nerve-wracking to do so, especially the first time, but such a good thing to do. I need to book an appointment to donate again as haven't done so for quite a while. My eldest daughter has needed several blood transfusions after her heart surgeries so it is something that is very important to me x

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    1. Hi Louise, thank you and it must be something close to your heart when you have seen first hand how it really does save lives. x

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  10. awesome job on giving blood! I have never donated blood before... the needles scare me! my husband has though and a lot of times they have a little offer going on that if you donate blood you get a free movie ticket haha so I remember he donated blood to get a ticket to go see a movie :P

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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    1. Ooooh I'd love a free movie ticket!!! :-) x

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  11. Well done! I've not donated before but it's something I know I probably should do. I might take a leaf from your book and keep an eye out :)

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    1. Yes, do it!
      I was so nervous about it and then afterwards I couldn't believe all my worry as it was absolutely fine. Such a feel good feeling afterwards too. x

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  12. Well done you - I've registered to give blood before but chickened out in the end as I hate needles ...buuuut reading this post is making me think I must do it! x

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    1. You can do it!!! I promise, it was absolutely fine and for me personally, it was the thought of doing it rather than the actual giving blood. Good luck and let me know if you donate x

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    2. You really should go and give it a go, I went for the first time today and I don't do needles. One of my reasons for doing it was to help me get over that. I couldn't even look whilst they did the pin prick test for your iron levels but you actually don't feel a thing.

      The nurses were great and the main needle only hurts for about 1 second, after that you are aware of it for around a minute, but there is no pain after the initial second.

      Whilst first entering the room can be a little nerve-wracking, after the process you feel really happy you did it. Superheroes have to work far harder to save lives. :-)

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  13. Well done, I so need to do this, I once went to donate and when I walked in the smell hit me and I felt ill. I need to be braver next time xx

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    1. Do it Sarah :-) its such an amazing feeling after you donate. Good luck and let me know if you donate x

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  14. This is brilliant! I donated for the first time last year and have done every 4 months since, I'm due to do it next month. It's not as bad as I thought it would be at all and all for a good cause for an hour of your day! #sharewithme xx

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    1. Fantastic! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience Alice x

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  15. Well done you! I have always been under the weight limit for giving blood which is great news for me because it does, if I am honest, make me feel rather sick! Well done for doing it and finding out that it wasn't that bad. You should be very proud!

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  16. Beautiful words at the end in particular and such an inspiring post lady, thanks for sharing and normalising giving blood as there really isn't enough info out there particularly when it comes to blogs from a personal POV as opposed to charity-led guest posts and this way, it really resonates more. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

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  17. well done, i work for the nhsbt on a collection team. a few years back my husband was diagnosed with untreatable cancer and died a few months later. while he was ill he was given 14 units of blood. these did not save his life but gave us a bit more precious time and made him feel so much better for a while. the value of a donation is imeasureable, thank you so much.

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    1. I read your comment and felt truly moved. Thank you so much for sharing first hand what a difference blood donation actually makes. x

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  18. I give blood regularly as it is something you can do for others that takes very little time and effort but is vitally important. Over the last few years one of my sisters needed quite a few transfusions during the course of her illness and I was pleased to think I had helped others in a similar situation. Unfortunately only 4% of potential donors actually give blood. So if you haven't done it before give it a go! :-)

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    1. Yes completely agree!!! It is so worthwhile and makes such a difference. Reading people's comments here there is so many people affected my blood donation and it truly is a very special gift. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment x

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