I gave blood a week ago, and the bruise has only gotten bigger since then, even though it doesn’t hurt at all. Weird. (If you’re someone whose toes curl at the words ‘needle’ or ‘blood’ – sorry, in that case – I would advise not reading on, although I promise we won’t get too graphic!)
I decided to start giving blood for a number of reasons. I first went with a friend who was heading to a blood drive on a down day at the end of 2013 and wanted some support. Not only that, but my Dad’s had life-saving blood transfusions in the past, and I’ve never been overly afraid of needles or injections. I spent too much time in hospital and the doctor’s when I was little having countless blood tests to develop a proper phobia! Giving blood is a really helpful, simple thing to do, and even if you only do it once it’s an easy way of finding out your blood type, which is quite cool.
The process itself is relatively stress-free. A nurse will take you into a booth to test your haemoglobin levels which takes seconds and feels a bit like you’re having your fingertip stapled (but it’s not even as bad as that sounds.) Haemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the respiratory organs to the rest of the body, providing you with enough energy to power your metabolism. If you haven’t got the right haemoglobin levels, your blood won’t be able to provide poorly people will the right amount of nutrients to get their body back to normal. If you ever find yourself prohibited from giving blood because of your haemoglobin, a trip to the doctor’s can sort you out and usually you’ll be back to donating in a number of months.
Actually donating is surprisingly uneventful. Once the nurses are happy you’ve had enough to eat and drink (there’s free biscuits crisps and cake everywhere and it’s great) you’re laid on a bed or chair, given a series of circulation exercises to do and then strapped up to the machine. I’ve got to be honest, I can’t ever look when I’m giving blood so I have no idea what it looks like! Last time I went, the nurse missed my vein three times so I’ve got a pretty blotchy arm, but it’s never any more painful than a small sharp scratch. They extract a pint of blood from your arm which takes somewhere around 5-10 minutes. Then you’re done!
The first time I gave blood I nearly fainted and had a great time. It’s quite a lot for your body to deal with first time round so if you find yourself feeling a bit dizzy, just tell someone and hopefully you won’t ‘do a me’ and find yourself tilted upside down in the waiting area in front of everyone, being fed crisps and drink until you’re no longer seeing stars and blood is flowing back round your body. It’s a good look, I promise. I wouldn’t worry though, I’ve done that so you won’t have to. Aren’t I kind?
If you’re able to give blood I would strongly recommend it. It’s free to do and so rewarding to know someone somewhere is going to benefit from something you don’t need – I can’t remember how long it is afterwards, but your body regenerates the lost blood in no time. I forgot to mention as well, my blood type is O+ which is literally the most common blood in the population. I was hoping I’d have a more exciting one, like AB- (oooh), but a lot of people can benefit from my blood which is never a bad thing.
If you want to know more, the NHS ‘Give Blood’ website is really helpful and gets you pumped to donate (see what I did there?) You can visit them right now, and find your nearest session, by clicking here.
Until next time (when the bruising will hopefully have gone down!),
Emma 👓 x