Why? Because I gave blood today.

That’s what the bright blue shirt I got yesterday said.  The American Red Cross came to my school for the first time this school year.  They come two or three times a year and the Key Club organized the day, this time getting over 200 students and teachers to sign up to try to give blood.  In my mind, this is the most reasonable excuse for students to get out of class.  Many students sign up for that reason alone, which is fine by me.  Blood is blood and it saves lives, no matter the ulterior motives for donating.

I’ve tried numerous times in my life to give blood, starting at a blood drive held at my high school ten years ago.  My blood does not typically cooperate, even in the doctor’s office when I need blood work done.  It tends to clot and stop flowing long before an entire bag is filled.  But I keep trying, because blood transfusions extended my father’s life and have helped saved so many others in this world.  So when the kids asked me to sign up to donate a few weeks ago, I was determined to make it happen.

I started a few days ago eating foods high in protein and drinking lots of fluids.  Yesterday alone I drank three entire Nalgene bottles of water (about 96 oz).  When I got to the gym in the afternoon, I filled out the paperwork and was ready to go.  The first step in donating is passing the protein test, you need a 12.5 and this has been a source of my struggles before.  Yesterday I was 13.7, more than good to go!  Side note: this was almost the most painful part.  Then they moved me to my chair, of course I was front and center in front of all the students waiting to donate.  But I believe that leading by example is one of the most powerful tools I have with these teenage kids, so that was fine.

I warned my nurse, Rachel, that finding a good vein would be tough and that I often struggled to get a whole bag.  If I did, it would take a while.  She kind of laughed it off and said she’s seen it all and at least I wasn’t a hyper high school student (I got the feeling the staff was getting tired of all the energy our kids have).  After sticking me twice, she got a good hit on a vein in my left arm.  That part wasn’t so bad and the blood starting flowing as I pumped the red heart ball in my hand. After about ten minutes (the average time it takes a person to give blood), Rachel checked on me and immediately re-did my tourniquet.  I knew what that meant, my blood was slowing down.  Then a few minutes later she undid the tape on my arm and twisted the needle around a little, trying to make a better connection.  This repeated again a little later and wasn’t the most comfortable feeling in the world, but luckily a few of my students that were volunteering wandered over and started talking to me so I was distracted.

Finally, after 35 minutes and weighing the bag several times and making more adjustments, Rachel told me the news I wanted to hear: I had officially donated enough blood to be a full unit!  She took the needle out, taped me all up and sent me over to the recovery zone where I enjoyed some Oreo cookies and juice.  She did comment that I had been a challenge, and I resisted saying “I told you so!” because I was just happy she got it done.  I spent a few minutes chatting with some of the students giving blood, then headed back to work with my “Am I your type?” sticker on, which the kids thought was hilarious.  I can’t wait for the next time I can donate, because I think I’ve finally got it figured out!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cynthia Butler
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 09:14:52

    YOU are awesome girl! Giving blood is such a powerful life-giving gift. Proud of you! Cyn



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