I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I had a friend tell me that I was being boring for counting blood donation as one of my 32 new things. The person thought that there are more exciting things I could be doing, but what could be more exciting then saving lives.
I have been walking past the Australian Red Cross Blood Service in Bendigo for years; I didn’t even know they were there. I arrived early, because I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going. I found the staff at the service to be awesome! Everyone was very friendly, chatty and reassuring.
After the boring but important paperwork was completed, I got to sit in one of the big chairs. It was almost like a theme park ride. The chair lifted and reclined seamlessly, my adrenaline was pumping and I was being given instructions on what to do if I felt unwell during the donation.
I don’t love needles, but who does. I didn’t think it was necessary to watch the needle go into my arm. I could feel it pierce my skin, so I knew it was there. My blood was a little shy to begin with and the slow flow rate set off the alarm on the machine. It didn’t faze me, but the staff were quick to reassure me that everything was ok.
The donation itself took about 10 mins. I would have taken a photo of the process, but the staff set me a challenge of spending 10 mins without my phone. I had to laugh when part way through the donation my phone started to ring. It gave me the opportunity to say: see, I told you I needed my phone 😉
I thought I was very calm about the donation process. I’m not sure whether it was because it was my first time or whether on the exterior I looked like I was freaking out, but the staff kept checking in on me to make sure I was okay. It could also be because the newbie before me had fainted.
The nurse described to me that you never know how your body will react to donating blood for the first time. Your body may think that you are hurt because you are bleeding and its natural reaction might be that you need to rest, so you faint.
Overall I had a fab time donating blood. I got to chat to some really nice people, I tuned out from the world for 10 mins and I had some juice and snacks afterwards. Before I left I schedule my next donation.
A couple of days after the donation I received a phone call seeking feedback on my experience at the blood service. The first thing out of my mouth was: ‘it was awesome, I had fun.’ The caller was a little shocked and said she had never heard blood donation being described as fun before, but it was true. I think the staff made the difference in my experience. They were all up beat, chatty and efficient which passed the time quickly.
I’m really happy that I chose blood donation as one of my new things. I have now set myself a new challenge of donating blood when I can for the rest of my life. It feels good to do something that will help someone else.