Tuesday, September 12, 2017

#DarlyFacesFears: Allie Donates Blood!

feeling pretty tough in my car after donating blood for the first time :P

I used to be afraid of needles, and truth is, they’re still not my favorite. SO far from it. But I’ve had to deal with needles a few times because #adulthood. One of my first big needle experiences though, when I was still very scared of needles, was having to get my blood drawn for some tests when I was probably 19 or 20. Afterward the doctor emailed me to inform me that my blood type was O negative, and how great this was because I was the universal donor and could help so many people. Then I panicked and ignored that fact for several years.

I’ve always felt a tinge of guilt when an opportunity to donate blood would come along and I’d pass. But even as my fear of needles lessened over the years, I’d then have the “horror stories” I’d heard from friends who had donated blood: getting light headed, passing out, and in one extreme case, having nerve issues in her arm??! And if nothing else, the needle is big, I’d been told.

I knew this would be one of the fears I’d overcome this month, but when all the hurricanes, floods and other disasters began one after the other around the United States, I knew I didn’t want to wait to do this any longer.

I registered to donate blood with the Red Cross online one evening, mentioned it briefly to my roommate the next morning, and that night on my way to the appointment I texted another friend asking him to remind me that “DONATING BLOOD IS NO BIG DEAL, RIGHT? TOTALLY CHILL? EVERYTHING’S FINE?”

And he confirmed that yes, donating blood is totally chill, then kept texting me jokes and kind words to distract me.

If you have not donated blood, here is the process: Sign a thing, read some things, be invited back into a private little space where a nice nurse will check my blood pressure, prick my finger to test the blood (checking the iron levels and such), then they left me with a laptop to answer a series of personal questions to make sure that my blood is clean and able to be donated.

When I was done, they took me back to a nice lounge chair. The same nurse who had checked me in took my blood. I informed her from the get-go that this was my first time donating blood and I was nervous. I recommend doing this because she knew exactly how to make me feel safe: she answered all of my questions, told me exactly what she was doing, then had me inhale deeply and exhale as she inserted the needle. I didn’t look, and she covered the needle itself so I couldn’t see it, which I’m grateful for. I held one of those stress ball things that she had me squeeze every 3-5 seconds to keep the blood flowing well. The nurse made sure I was comfortable and we just chatted the whole time. (Such a great woman!).

When she bent down to check the progress, I did glance over once. Not a lot to see, but still interesting. I don’t recommend doing this if you are particularly squeamish with blood ;)

When the bag was filled (the website says it takes about 8-10 minutes, but I didn’t keep track when I was donating), she again had me inhale, then exhale as she removed the needle. She had me hold the gauze and apply some pressure, and lift up my arm for a moment to help ease the bleeding. She put a bandaid over the folded up gauze, then put that stretchy tape stuff around my elbow to hold pressure there. I was told to remove the tape after an hour, and keep the band-aid on for the next few hours (I took it off at bedtime but replaced the band-aid just so it wouldn’t accidentally start bleeding at night while I slept.

They offered me some cookies and juice as I sat there afterward to make sure my blood sugar levels were good (I think?). I felt just fine, though. I don’t think I needed cookies or juice, but why would I ever decline such an offer? Hah!

Verdict: I’m SO glad I donated blood, and I intend to do so again. It really wasn’t a big deal. Yes, a pinch when the needle went in, but I felt that for a split second, then was totally fine. I will say, my iron levels were great, and I was sure to hydrate throughout the day before coming in. I felt no lightheadedness, and truly felt great afterward.

And as cheesy as it sounds, I felt especially great knowing I had not only overcome a long-held fear, but I enjoyed the process, AND was able to help others. I’m just so glad I did this. I STILL feel good about it!

*This month, face a fear and share your experience on Instagram, with hashtag #darlyfacesfears, and you will be entered to win a $100 gift card to Darlybird!

No comments: