Canadian Blood Services always tells us, “It’s in you to give,” but I’m starting to seriously doubt whether it applies to me. I’ve tried countless times but there are so many checks and balances along the way, it’s almost a miracle if I ever give a donation. If you’ve never given blood, here’s a preparatory rundown for you…
This may be a problem if you hang out with Magneto, but when you give blood they don’t mind at all. Quite the opposite actually. The first time I tried to donate blood I found out that I had low iron. The nice nurse told my teenage self that this can be a common problem for young girls but that I was therefore not allowed to donate. Thanks a lot CBS for giving my mom the lovely catchphrase, “are you getting enough iron, dear?”
2. 20 Questions
If you pass the iron test, then you need to go through the questioning period. And it’s well over 20 questions, and you have to answer them every time you go. Luckily I’ve never lived in Africa prior to 1977 nor have I had sex with someone with AIDS, nor have I ever paid for sex or drugs, so this section has never been an issue for me. Still, it always makes me very uncomfortable when some elderly nurse looks at me like my 34th “no” in a row must be a lie.
3. The Poke
Arguably the worst part of giving blood is that initial poke. Thanks to my mother and her mother before her, and I’d hazard a guess that it goes back to even her mother before her, I have teeny tiny hide-and-go-seek veins. When the nurse starts fondling my inner elbow my pesky veins run for the hills. I have had so much trouble with this. Worst of all is when they poke the needle in and then move it around under the skin “fishing” for the disappearing vein… this is possibly the worst. feeling. ever.
4. Go With the Flow
If they get the needle in and everything’s hunky dory, then the blood starts coming out in droves. At least it does for my husband who is quite proud of the fact that his veins allow him to give blood in 5 minutes flat. My veins on the other hand are a tad gun-shy. If they don’t close up completely and cause a clot in the line (true, pathetic story folks), I’m lucky to finish up around the 10-minute mark. On some level this seems logical, but the whole time all I can think is that my body is yelling at me to get out while I still can!
That’s right, if you survive all of the above, they will bribe you to return in just 56 days with food! It’s a free smorgasbord, but only for the special iron-endowed, large-veined folk. It’s closed off for bloodless losers like me who try and try again only to be continually rejected. Actually the time my blood clotted in the line I was so upset that they gave me a cookie anyway… maybe I should cry every time.
Considering all of this, it’s a wonder I ever try to donate anymore, and truth be told I haven’t done so in a number of years. And I’m constantly called by their phone service because I have “special blood” or something (Yay?). But this year… this year I decided it was worth trying again. I just had a feeling that it really was in me to give, so I booked my appointment. I went to that appointment a couple weeks ago, with annoyingly familiar results.
While I surprisingly passed the iron test with flying colours (143 – my PB!), the nurse couldn’t get the needle into either arm and on one of them she was even fishing (cue the shudders). So yet again I had to endure the walk of shame that is leaving the clinic without giving any blood. Dang it all anyway!
At this point I’m discouraged but I won’t be put off entirely just yet. I’m committed to trying 4 times this year, so I’ll try again in another 56 days. But, maybe next time I’ll bring my own cookie.