Okay, it was yesterday, but still. I gave blood! I am excited. I tried to give blood 56 days ago, but I was turned down because my hemoglobin was too low. It needs to be 125 something or others, and at the time it was only 123 (so close!), but this time it was 131 and I was granted the privilege to give blood to someone who needs it. The hemoglobin level is related to your iron intake so, being the carnivore that I am, I ate liver pate to give me a boost. And then I was given the amazing tip of eating Cream of Wheat. Turns out it’s a huge source of iron. Well, it all seemed to have worked and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing so I can continue to donate every 56 days.
I have to be honest, I was really disappointed when I couldn’t give last time. I even cried. I tried to hide it as best I could until I left but I successfully managed to make the nurse uncomfortable as she gave me a list of food high in iron. It’s because of the situation with my dad. We’ve been told he’s going to die, but we don’t know when. Soon, is all we know. He gets weekly transfusions. Today, right now, he’s alive. And I’m so grateful. I just wanted to do something. He’s not going to get my blood, but someone is. It could be due to leukemia, or trauma, or surgery, or who knows what. But, that blood is life for someone. And that makes me feel better. Because someone else’s blood means life for my dad.
I’ve given blood before but it was about 15 years ago. In my twenties I started giving blood, but then I got a piercing so couldn’t do it for a while. And then I just never went back. No reason, just never did. Often, it takes a personal connection to bring people back.
The experience from start to finish was great. I was in right at 8am, greeted by the ever friendly front desk reception and immediately proceeded to my hemoglobin check. It was like waiting to see if your debit card is going to be approved at the grocery store. You’re pretty sure you have enough money in there, but maybe not. And when it says approved, jackpot! Woohoo, enough iron in my blood! Then I answered my questions about my health, read my little pamphlet and saw the nurse in the screening room where they ask you the personal questions about sex, and drugs, and travel to third world countries. I knew all my answers were no because I read the questions ahead of time, but I still listened carefully to the questions. They say these exact same questions over and over, multiple times per hour, all day long, and my nurse had adopted a sing-song voice to get through the monotony. “In the last 12 months…” up goes her voice. “…sex with a man who had sex with a man…” hitting the notes just perfectly. And on it went about IV drug use, hemophilia, syphilis, clotting factor concentrates, illegal steroids, cocaine, and anonymous sex. All good. None of the above. Finally, before getting into the chair to get hooked up they give you a chance to ditch your blood, just in case you’re not so sure about it (or whatever reason people might have) and anonymously indicate that your blood is not to be used.
Once I got in the chair it went pretty fast. I jumped a little when the needle went in but that’s because I like watching as they do it and the visual was a bit startling. Didn’t hurt though. Output time was good. They say it takes between 5 and 15 minutes. I clocked in at 8 minutes. After some cookies and juice and a few updates on my Facebook page I was on my way. In and out in one hour. I’m already booked for my next appointment in 56 days.
Starting now, considering that I’ll be heading out to sea in 426 days, if I successfully donate every 56 days, then I’ll be giving 8 donations, providing a leukemia patient with their week’s worth of blood.
There are a lot of reasons that some of you cannot donate, but if you can, please consider donating your blood. For information, go to Canadian Blood Services (blood.ca). They’re rolling out a fancy new website right now. If you live outside of Canada, check out your own national blood service. And, if you’re following my journey here then please let me know when you do give blood, either in the comments or on my Facebook page. I’d love to hear about how you’ve become inspired, or possibly inspired someone else to book that appointment.