I’d never given blood before, but after a period of soul searching, I decided to try to start doing some more positive things in my life. Something supposedly simple (yet very important) on that list was to start donating blood. So I called that number that has been drilled into my head for years… 1-800-2DONATE and made an appointment to go into the donor clinic.
That was almost 3 years ago.
As I sat down and started to read through the extensive list of “no-no’s” I saw one that made me flinch. Maybe it was better to come back another day. I promised to make another appointment and went on my way.
And so began the flood of phone calls from Canadian Blood Services asking if I’d like to schedule another appointment. These people are relentless. Eventually I decided to go back, and this time I made it a little farther through the screening process. But not much.
Apparently high blood pressure will disqualify you from giving blood. It’s fine if you’re taking medication to control it, but if your pressure is too high at the time, they won’t take your blood. Try as I did to convince the nurse that perhaps if they took some out, then it might lower the pressure a little… she wouldn’t go for it. They checked it two or three times, and it was still high. They suggested that I see a doctor about it, at which point I sheepishly admitted that I was already on blood pressure medication but had been slacking a little in taking it. Cue speech on importance of taking your medication regularly.
Another year passed of me dodging their phone calls. In that period I got a little more serious about taking my medication, and my doctor was relatively pleased with the results. (Now if only I would lose a little weight.. yeah yeah… I know) So I decided to give it one more try. Maybe the third time would be a charm.
Things had changed at the donor clinic since I was last there. Now when they prick your finger to check your iron level, they can get the results immediately with some nifty little machine that sits on their desk. Apparently I passed that test, and onto the next station I went. I aced all the questions about my travel experiences and whether I engaged in any forbidden activities. After that, they sent me to “the room” where I had to have my blood pressure checked, and answer some more questions, this time asked by a nurse in person, rather than on a form.
They ask some strange questions. They were particularly interested in whether my mother or grandmother had been born in South America or Africa. I guess they don’t care about Dad. Then more questions about personal stuff. And then they give you a sticker to place on the questionnaire as to whether or not you feel that your blood is safe to give. It’s just a bar code, and the nurse leaves the room while you choose the appropriate one and place it on the card.
Of course before any of that happened, I had to pass the blood pressure check. You can tell from the title of the post that I passed. But it was still high. (Don’t ask.. I can’t keep the numbers straight in my head. All I know is that 0 is bad.) Unfortunately for me, I had made a comment that I had failed this part before. The nurse seemed surprised and said “It must have been very high before, because we have quite liberal guidelines when it comes to that.) Well when I told her about my slack and idle approach to medication consumption, she proceeded to give me two examples of people she knew personally who had stopped taking their blood pressure medication, resulting in strokes for both. One regained partial movement on one side… the other went into a home… Yeah, that’s not what I wanted to hear.
After telling me that, it’s no wonder that it was high when she checked it!
I must say… the chairs that you sit in while giving blood are quite comfortable! I could really use one at home. Maybe another at work. I’m getting a little better with needles. I don’t like to look as it goes in, but after that, I don’t mind watching the blood flow out of me and into the bag. And the next bag. And some vials. Jesus, were they going to leave any in there for me!?
When all was said and done, I had a cookie and some chocolate milk… and away I went. At some point I guess that I’m going to receive a blood donor card in the mail (or a nasty letter telling me that I’m not allowed back there again). I’m looking forward to that.
And next month I guess I’ll have replenished enough of my stock that I can give again. Whohoo!