Saturday, December 8, 2012

On Donating Blood and Fainting

I grew up around blood. Hmm. That's an odd sentence. My mother is a medical technologist and I went to work with her several times over the years. At four years old, I had my own special chair in the lab. I'd sit there and wait for her to finish work and then we'd head home. I saw lots of blood. Sometimes people would come by the house and my mother would draw their blood there and I'd watch. At 16, I worked for a summer in a medical lab - more blood (and other samples which I'd rather not think about).

I know too well about blood shortages. It's always crazy when there's an emergency case at the hospital and there aren't enough cross-matched units of blood. So when I learned that I was O negative and that meant I was a universal donor, I was eager to donate. However, I was always below the weight limit. When I was finally at the limit, I had visited restricted countries and couldn't donate.

Six months after my surgery, I begged and pleaded with a mobile blood bank to take my blood. I emailed my surgeon from the steps of the blood mobile and then I literally shoved the reply that said it was OK for me to donate in her face. She was still hesitant and added several notes to my files. Since then, I've tried to donate about 3 times per year.

So when the mobile bank worker approached me on Wednesday, I knew that I was going to say yes even though I really shouldn't have. You see, the days before that I hadn't been drinking enough water and felt dehydrated. If I'm not drinking enough water, it takes an eternity for any blood to come out of me.

I also hadn't had any breakfast that day. This is kinda typical for me but not the best idea. My mother has cautioned me against donating blood when I haven't eaten but I haven't had any issues. I did tell the phlebotomist that I needed to drink something before donating though.

As expected, it took a lifetime. I watched him use the little pliers to try to force more blood into the bag. And another phlebotomist fiddled with my needle. I should not have watched any of this. I grew up around blood. But I simply cannot look at my own blood. That's asking for trouble.

After donating, I felt fine. I spoke with the phlebotmist for a bit. I grabbed a sandwich and some cookies and headed down the hall. And then things started to go black. I'm a stubborn fool so instead of turning back, I kept going. I made it to a water fountain, took some sips but that did nothing. I was there hunched over, ready to pass out when the recruiter saw me and ran over to me. He got to me right when everything went black.

I was only out for a few seconds. And he took me back inside and they put ice packs on me until I started shivering and then made me drink and eat some more. For the rest of Wednesday, I felt like crap. I needed to help a friend proctor an exam and I simply did not have the strength to do it.

Normally I am pretty good at staying hydrated but have been slacking off for the last week or so. I have certainly learned my lesson. Saving a life with my blood donation is great but I need to take care of my body first.

No comments:

Post a Comment