When I got pregnant, I learned what it was like to become a human pin cushion. Due to Gestational Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura , I had to have my blood drawn to evaluate my platelet count every week in the third trimester. Had my platelet count gotten too low, it was possible I would not have been able to get an epidural (had I wanted one) and a c-section would have meant general anesthesia. There was also a probability that I could have needed a blood transfusion.
By getting pregnant I also learned that my blood type is O negative – thanks to the 9 vials they draw in the beginning. Learning that I was a universal donor made me feel A.) Really awesome for being one of only 7% of people with a blood type that can save lots of people! And, B.) Like a horse’s arse for never having given blood before – I mean, I was potentially going to be taking from a blood supply to which I had never given.
I got super used to needles, thanks to that whole human pincushion thing. Blown veins? Huge bruises? No big deal – purple isn’t my favorite color, but I could get away with wearing anything when I was pregnant. I was so used to giving my blood for testing that I could tell the phlebotomist which vial she should be using to capture the goods. All those years I was afraid to give blood…well now that just seemed silly. I really should donate blood, I decided.
A while back, I also started following the story of a young woman, who happens to be my fellow high school and UMaine alum, that was waiting to receive a life-saving double lung transplant. I pretty religiously read her blog to keep up on her journey – my favorite post being the one where they announced she was receiving her new lungs! I am a proud organ donor, but to me that was (oddly) an easier decision to make than giving blood. In the event that I can’t use my organs anymore, of course I’d want them to save another person’s life! But giving blood – for me it had been built up as some big scary unknown in my head.
But it was Ashley’s journey and her story finally inspired me to do something that, unfortunately, took me years to do — donate blood! I heard on the radio this morning that the Red Cross was doing a drive at the Westbrook Cinemagic. I thought, “This is it! I heard this promo for a reason and today is the day I conquer my fear!”
I dragged Tristan and Charlie with me. While he is also a universal donor, the C-man is a little too young to donate, so Tristan and I traded baby duty while the other donated. I went first.
I was nervous, but kept telling myself “you gave birth to a baby without an epidural – this will be a walk in the park!”
And it was.
The interview process and mini-physical was a little overwhelming in the beginning, but the majority of the questions they ask are reasonable and no big deal. I was most scared for the finger prick, which they do to test your iron. I remember having that done for cholesterol testing when I was younger, and I was certain it hurt so bad that it was like they cut the tip of my finger straight off. Apparently, that was me being dramatic because it was literally painless.
The, I laid back in the bed and got a little iodine massage to clean my arm. Literally, it was like a 30-second massage and felt quite nice. (I thought about asking if she did pedicures too but then I realized I hadn’t shaved my legs. Oh, and that it would also be inappropriate.) I did the “look away” when she stuck me, and 6 minutes and 45 seconds later my bag was full and I was on my merry way.
Piece of cake.
Tristan went next. After about an hour, I was like “okay, what gives?” Well…. apparently, someone didn’t eat enough for lunch and got a little light headed. Poor guy almost passed out. Twice. When he walked in, he was completely pale and looked like he had been in a street fight with the emo skateboard kids congregating outside of the theater. I tried to find out the deets of his situation, but was told by the Red Cross lady not to ask him for details because it “wasn’t good for his recovery process.” So Tristan was unable to be reached for further comment at the time this story went to press.
But he did break his silence in the car when he said, “I’m still really glad I gave blood.” I told him we didn’t have to talk about it if it was still too soon. 😉 And that I was glad too.
Charlie’s first donation experience was great too. He barely made a peep, even though we ended up being there for 3 hours. He won the ladies over with his amazing waving & clapping talents, his lady-killer blue eyes, and by making loud fart noises with his mouth. All of the volunteers and concession stand girls got to know him by his first name. It’s funny how acts of selflessness and cute babies bring out the best in people!
The Red Cross workers asked us what inspired us to donate today, both being first-timers. I told them about finding out my blood type when I was pregnant, and then Ashley’s story. I said if Ashley and other people in her position are amazing enough to fight their fight, the least I can do is take the time to donate something of mine that could, quite possibly, help them win. Every minute of every day, someone needs blood.
So, if you have time tomorrow, stop by the Westbrook Cinemagic and donate! Not only are they baby and kid friendly (there’s an arcade to entertain the older ones!), but you will also get a free movie pass! And – best of all – your one donation will save 3 lives!