Today I finally gave blood! My conscience has wanted to do it for a long time, but doing my 30 things has finally given me the push I needed to go through with it. Unfortunately over the last year people I know have had serious illnesses, which has brought home just how important giving blood is.
Back when I was about 15 I wasn’t very well and had to have a few blood tests which made me feel really faint. Then when Oscar was born I had to have a drip. Having that drip put in was hands down the most painful part of my entire labour and continued to hurt long after he was born. Those two experiences meant that I was feeling really nervous about giving blood, but as a first timer I was treated like royalty, and all the nurses really went out of their way to make sure I felt comfortable.
I booked online a while ago at www.blood.co.uk after trying for a walk in appointment back in January and there not being space. When I arrived they warned me they they were a bit behind and it might take a while, but I was in and out in about an hour, which is what I’d expected (an hour of quietly reading a magazine, a big treat for a Mum of 2!). First I had a chat with a nurse about my medical history, lifestyle etc (fortunately I’m very boring so this all went very smoothly) and they made sure I’d eaten plenty throughout the day (no worries there) and did a finger prick to check I’m not anaemic. As a vegetarian, I was pleased to find out I have high iron levels (I had spinach in my dinner especially!).
Next I was shown to a special seat and set up, ready to go. The nurse then put the needle in, which felt more weird than painful. I braved a couple of sneaky glances at the blood pumping from me but could only bear to look out of the corner of my eye. For the first minute my arm continued to feel a bit weird but after that I couldn’t really feel anything. Throughout this bit you are asked to keep opening and closing your hand, and clenching and unclenching your bum, all to keep your blood pressure up. Nurses came over every couple of minutes to check I was ok, and weirdly told me that I was doing well, as though it took skill.
Finally, after about six minutes, a nurse came over to tell me I was done. Having the needle taken out was the bit I was dreading most, and it wasn’t pleasant, but of course it was fine and over before I knew it. The nurse slowly adjusted my seat to bring me back to sitting, and showed me over to the all important snack area! I stayed for about 15 minutes, a wonderful time of drinking squash, and eating orange club bars, crips, and a macaroon.
All in all it was actually kind of a pleasant experience: a quiet hour, free food, encouragement to eat all day long. I have booked to do it again in Teignmouth on Monday 7th December, and so should you!