And today was the first time I ever gave blood.
I had tried back in High School when the Bloodmobile came to my school, but my blood pressure was always too low. I tried a couple times with the same results each time. And then... I just gave up. And I didn't see much sense in trying over the years, since my blood pressure remained pretty much the same.
Cut to more recent years. As I've gotten older, heavier and the mom of two kids, my blood pressure has finally hit the normal range. And, as our local radio station Jack FMwas doing a Halloween Blood Drive, I thought "Now's the time." I'll readily admit that along with the good feeling of giving blood and having blood points was the swag that Jack was giving away to those who attempted to donate.
The fact that I'm O- was something that I should have thought about before, as I know it's a fairly sought after type (any RH negative is, from my understanding). So that made me feel even better about it.
I asked Rich to come with me for moral support. I was very nervous about the whole blood-giving thing. Part of it is that I'm a REALLY tough stick. My veins are tiny and deep and it will sometimes take a couple sticks to find a vein that likes to give blood. Luckily, though, once they find a vein that is cooperative, the blood flows like Spice.
When I got there, the people from Jack and the Red Cross were really happy to see me. I don't know if I would have seen happier smiles on vampires. They pointed the way for me to go inside, though because of the smallness of the Blood Mobile, Rich needed to wait outside.
As often happens when I'm nervous, I got very chatty. Unfortunately, none of the phlebotomists felt very chatty back. So I ended up feeling pretty foolish as I talked. The questions were a breeze, with only two that raised possible red flags - Had I come into contact with anyone else's blood in the last twelve months (being the Mom of two boys, that was a definite yes) and do you have any heart or lung problems (again, asthmatic). But since both were easily explained and I wasn't having breathing problems at the moment, they handed me a bag, tubing and a folder and let me go lie down.
It took a minute or two for them to find my vein and yes, it hurt. I was trying really hard not to move because I didn't want to pull out the needle. But once they got it in, things were ok. They had me squeeze a stress ball every five to ten seconds, though I'm convinced I was squeezing it about every two seconds. Nerves, I know.
At one point, I looked up to find Rich at the exit to the Blood Mobile. They'd let him in because he said he'd never seen the inside of one. He couldn't come in the entrance - patient confidentiality. But there was plenty of room for him to sit at the exit and he was reading a magazine while he waited.
My pint was over before I knew it. On my way out, I grabbed an orange juice (best thing after any blood draw, in my opinion) and went out to get my swag. They had donuts from Krispy Creme (NOT my favorite, but beggers can't be choosers) so I took one of those. I also go coupons for bowling and a free Thickburger at Hardees. They gave me a baseball cap and a bright orange shirt with "Worst Halloween Costume Ever" written on it. Then I was able to go get Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Yummmmy. Rich got a few of the same swag, just for being support. (Actually, the only thing he didn't get was the baseball cap...) So that was how I spent my lunch hour.
All in all, it wasn't a bad experience. And I found out something else interesting while I was there. Being both RH negative and having been pregnant twice, I am eligible to give plasma at Southern Blood Services. Having needed to take RhoGAM for both my pregnancies, I know the importance of having the antibodies that help keep RH positive babies safe in RH negative moms. And, to help a bit more, they offer compensation. The website doesn't say how much, but since I could give plasma up to twice a week (and blood only every 56 days - I'm next eligible on Christmas Eve), it seems like a good thing for me to look into. And later next week, I think I will. (With this next week being a bit crazy.)
All this means I'm feeling pretty good about myself. And that is a good thing.