Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Canadian Blood Donor Clinics - My Donor Day!

My prized sticker possession!

Two months ago I left home very enthusiastic to give blood for the very first time.

The parking lot of the blood donor clinic facility was full to the brim! Wow, I wondered how long would this take!

Upon entry I checked in with the volunteers sitting at their table set up near to the doorway. When they discovered from their notes that I was a first time donor, I was awarded with a sweet sticker to wear. I felt like a little kid loving every second of my sticker, proud to wear it. (see photo above...snicker)

The atmosphere in the hall was that of joy, happy folks everywhere encouraging and congratulating me over my decision to donate my blood. Some were waiting at various stages in the donation assembly lines.

Here were the hoops one had to jump through...

  • 1 - Check in. No I had no previous blood donor card - this was my first time. BUT, I will get one in the mail after my first donation.
  • 2 - With reading material given to me to read in hand and a sweet (ick) juice to drink (I think it was Tang, world's WORST sugary awful chemical gross drink in my opinion) and was instructed to have a seat and await the number I was assigned to be called forward.
  • 3 - Taking my seat in front of the nurse's table, a series of questions and proof of identification were required to validate my blood donation this day.
  • 4 - The nurse took my temperature and blood pressure. All normal.
  • 5 - A small device rested at the end of my forefinger and "pop", blood began to squirt out. Painless. A small bit was collected and dropped into a vial, at which time it was heavy and began to fall to the bottom long before it bobbed on the surface. I was told a second test was required now.
  • 6 - Second test, more blood onto a microscopic glass and slipped into a machine to determine hemoglobin levels. Surprised and heavily disappointed, my levels weren't quite sufficient to give blood this day.
My heart fell to the floor and tears surprised me as my eyes grew misty. I had been denied the chance on my very first day to give blood.

Immediately following, my personal file folder with my information was returned, and a nurse escorted me to a private cubicle where a more senior RN nurse, I guess, counseled me not to feel rejected. But I did. There was undeniable proof before me now on WHY I had been feeling so droopy. Proof that sprang me to my feet after our little chat with my next scheduled appointment card in hand and as I left through the doors, I began to feel terrible about not being able to lay on one of the lounges as the others were. And here me and my big mouth had announced on my Facebook profile status about giving blood, challenging others to do so too. Actually to be honest, by not allowing me to give blood, they were doing me a favor.

With my bandaid on my forefinger and my special first time blood donor sticker on, I did try to turn the positive around by snapping a few photos on the way home, maybe if for any other reason to boost my own spirits up higher. Dumb I know but this photo below will serve to remind me to look after ME a whole bunch more now so I can give blood over and over again in the future.

Sure I was worn down from the move as the nurse suggested, plus having a hubby in hospital for seven weeks, a plethora of deficiencies in our new home to deal with, lots of out of town company, schooling the children and so forth, admittedly then - over this past few months I've really gone to town to raise my own barre on my health status.

I never told anyone about this, except my hubby who saw how visibly upset I had been when returning home afterward. Now obviously my secret is out but if my honesty becomes helpful in motivating someone else into action, then I'm thrilled. Go on, go and get yourself a sticker! :-)

Up until this point in my own life, I had either been pregnant, nursing, marrying kids off, having grandbabes, moving or escorting an unwell husband around to doctors for so long, I never thought to take the time to give blood. Unlike my friend Barbara whom I found out is a super star blood donor (hugs to you girl!), I just hadn't ever thought to do it.

My trigger point to become a donor? (besides seeing and witnessing others who have required it to save their lives...) I was energized and super excited after viewing the Canadian Blood Donor poster at my local post office, calling right away to schedule an appointment.

Fast forward to more recent times, and my return visit for the second scheduled attempt at donating blood. Gosh, I was so nervous! Nervous enough my blood pressure was up a bit more than usual.

By now I knew the routine; Check in, sticker (wasn't as exciting this time though), scheduled another donor appointment for the next clinic, gross juice and book to read, sit, wait, nurse interview, and the blood routine after the blood pressure and temps.

Here we go I thought after the nurse announced she had squeezed blood out of my finger too quickly as we had both just observed it plummet to the bottom of the vial again. She proceeded then as protocol with the second test.

I sat trying to understand my emotions while we waited for my numbers to pop up, at least a 12 was required. My heart pounded, my head began to hurt, my eyes were misting up, and then - I was almost a 14! Woot-Woot!! I passed. Leaky waters invaded my eyes, and for this I uttered a happy prayer of thanksgiving. I felt like Gene Kelly looked (!) just wanting to kick my heels up together and dance up and down that hallway.

Next I had to complete a longer form with many questions, some I thought were real awful really (but they have to screen each candidate well, good thing you know to do), followed by another interview with another nurse to swear by oath that to my knowledge I did not have AIDS as they would be testing for it as part of the screening process and would later have to by law inform me if I had it.

As I lay comfy cozy on my cot, I grinned (alot) knowing I'd be donating a nice big sac of blood (I'm so cheesy...), but as two nurses were now unable to find a big enough vein (another issue I've always had in my lifetime!), a third nurse was called over. Oh brother, could this be another negative thing for me?

After using both stretch band and blood pressure cuffing to (squeeze the heck out of my arm!), she found one she would try, but didn't guarantee anything. It worked, just fine. It had better as my arm felt like it was in a vice grip. The red stuff began pouring out just fine and I was happily well on my way to filling up that lovely lifesaving blood sac.

The nurse stayed with me for a while and I began asking questions, loving all of the education on blood donation, how they separate the blood, store it, use it, and so forth.
I found it all fascinating!

The nurse took photos for me, my arm squished on the curved section from the way the nurse plopped me there with the pressure cuff at first. It was the only discomfort so far.
(and my blood on the tray)

One sac of blood, five vials of blood and a smaller sac were removed from me. Donating blood has huge health benefits, this I knew. The biggest issue is dodging around people who are unwell afterwards due to lower counts of white blood cells and being susceptible to contagions.

I never experienced any woozy feelings of light headedness or nausea, only a teeny tiny bruise where the needle entered. And I was proud of my round bandaid on my arm and the tip of my finger this time. :-) Dumb I know.

Yep, this is MY sac of blood here under me

Motivation became even higher after sitting around having my snack and water at the end of the donation process when I met a woman who was celebrating her 40th time giving blood. It was also where I met a family of four, a family who all scheduled appointments together every three months no matter what to "pay it forward" for another.

Just like airplane snacks, we were instructed to eat.
(If you're thirsty or hungry, this is a great place to go by the way- wink.
You're allowed as many snacks or cookies or juice/tea/water as you like.)

In conclusion, if you're able to, and especially if you are a woman in menopause, or a man who is healthy, why not keep your blood circulating and consider "paying it forward" to possibly save a life, or maybe a few with your blood, platelets, plasma and more. I am very hopeful someone out there will be taking blood donor clinics seriously in the event my husband ever required blood as he has a very rare type - ABneg. I earnestly (beg) implore you to think about this possibility at the very least okay? Let me know how I can persuade you. Maybe I can send you cookies....LOL

Guess what I'll be doing Oct. 17th?

After such an uplifting and positive experience of donating blood, I've decided I'm actually going to investigate a step further by possibly becoming a Red Cross or Canadian Blood Donor Volunteer to assist at these clinics near to me. I think it's an excellent way to offer my time, really I do. (And besides, I was awarded a special Canadian Blood Donor pin the last time too I can wear now when the sticker doesn't stick anymore. giggle)

If you live in Canada, please check out the Canadian Red Cross website by CLICKING HERE


If you live in Canada, please check also the Canadian Blood Services website by CLICKING HERE

If you live in the USA, please check out the American Red Cross website by CLICKING HERE

If you live in another part of the world, google the Red Cross for a local website near to you.

As always, thank you so much for allowing me to put in a plug for something very important to me. Hugs; Renee