So I got the call to go for my four monthly blood donor session. Normally, even with an appointment it’s a case of turn up and wait…and wait….and wait while being force fed gallons of water. Putting up any kind of resistance is futile. “I’ve just had a large drink” “Well, never mind, it’s prevent you being dehydrated.” “Well I might need a bed pan halfway through. I know these youthful looks belie it but I am middle aged, you know.” “I’m sure you’ll manage.”
Yesterday was a bit different. Walked in sat down, pint of water was shoved into my hand. No sooner had a started to sip at it than a nurse came to take me through. “Ooh, that was quick” I said as I gratefully plonked down the glass. “Bring that with you” I was instructed, “You don’t get away with it just because we’re quiet.” Dammit.
I was lead through for the health questionnaire. They’ve added a couple of extra questions. “Have you ever been a surrogate for another woman’s eggs?”
“What? No. Does that happen a lot?” “We have to ask”
“Have you ever had IVF treatment?” ” Again, no. What’s prompted theses new questions?”
The answer was a bit hard to hear over the blaring radio they say is there to protect our privacy but it was something to do with the urine of middle aged women. “Oh. Right. Is there a market for middle aged women’s wee then?”
“Not unless you want AIDS.”
I’m so confused. I wish I’d heard the explanation properly. I wish they’d turn that damn radio down. I didn’t want to keep saying ‘what’ in case the thought I was a bit thick.
Next was the finger prick test. While she did it she noticed it was my 125th donation. You soon rack ’em up as a plasma donor which I did for a couple of years before the moved the centre to Liverpool, a no go area for any sensible person.
“You should be in for an award.” “Ooh, Can I have a balloon.?”
To my utter horror she wrote on my form in HUGE letters, “Does this lady get an award?” Then put stars all round it. Oh my God! I felt like I’d asked for one. I was so embarrassed I was happy to hide my head in my pint of water and take a few slurps to hide my burning face.
Next it was through to the beds for the actual donation. No the finger prick test wasn’t it. They want a bit more than that. The beds are arranged in the style of old wild west movie corralled wagons in a circle, nine in total.
As I apporoached the bed a quick glance round the room made me realise that not a single other bed was occupied. Not one! “What’s going on? Why is it so quiet?”
The answer really shocked me. They make a few appointments and rely on walk-ins for the rest. No walk ins had responded to the call that day so the place was deserted. Then he told me that in any case only 4% of people donate blood. 4% to keep the whole country going? What about all the blood they need for research as well? 4%!
What can you do when it’s a voluntary thing? You can’t force people to donate so 20 staff stood around chatting when they should have been taking donation after donation of valuable blood. Come on people!
Once my donation was over I was pressing on the puncture hole, arm in the air as normal. Would it stop bleeding? Would it hell! Every time we took the dressing off it started again.
“Don’t waste it! Scoop it up and use it, that’s liquid gold, that is!” It took a good few minutes to get it to stop. To the point where the nurse told me that if I wanted to go to the loo I’d have to have a nurse go with me in case I fainted. (doing a good selling job, aren’t I?). Eventually it did stop. A male nurse, told me that haemostasis had finally occurred. “What? That sounded really impressive” “The blood’s stopped.” “Oh. Not that impressive then.”
I was instructed not to use that arm for a while and to go and get a drink. Yup. Another drink. Coffee this time, with biscuits, very nice. I didn’t mind this one so much.
So that was yesterday’s blood donor session. I live such an exciting life.