Thursday, 24 January 2013

Giving is in my Blood*

As many of you know due to the need to show everyone my 'scar' and bruise today, I gave blood yesterday. It was a very interesting experience, and although I'm glad I did it, I'm not sure I will do it again. I know it saves a life and all - actually 3 lives, did you know that? - hurt.

This might seem kind of obvious, since a thin tube is stuck in your arm for about 10 minutes, but I was convinced by the nurse that the miniature iron blood test you do before hurts more. It doesn't. So instead of basing your decision to give blood in the future on the nurses with their false promises, dear blog reader, you can get a more unbiased view from cynical old me in the corner. Mwahahaha.

So one of the things they tell you is that you will be in and out in 45 minutes. Lie Number 1.   I was there from 3.30pm til 5.40pm. I may not be a mathematician, but that was 130 minutes. And no, I did not just use a calculator to work that out.

There was a good reason why it took so long, though. There were so many people going to donate that there were longer waiting times, which is great for them, but not so great for the would-be donor sitting in a room with an automatic door leading outside that keeps on opening. Oh, and did I mention that this was when Porthcawl had gone into shut down because we were having a blizzard? Yep.

But 1 hour later-ish, my name was called. I had become pretty nervy by this time, and my poor friend Harvey, who had agreed to go donate with me, was probably more relieved to hear my name that I was. 

I was escorted to the next waiting room. Just to clarify, there were 3 waiting rooms. It was like levels of tension. And so the waiting game began again. 

The next level was The Interrogation. They escort you into this little cornered off section of the room, sit you down, and ask you loads of questions to make sure you aren't infected or something.

Another thing: every time a new nurse talks to you, they ask you to confirm your age, address and date of birth. By the end I had worked a way to say this in the quickest way possible. Not that I'm going to write it on here, I don't know if any of you are stalkers of pedophiles or something (I'm sure you're not. Please don't go.)

So anyway, they asked the usual questions about drugs and stuff, even though I had filled out a questionnaire before hand. There were some very obscure, specific ones, but not for young ears, so I shall leave that to your imagination.

But then it got complicated. I had put down that I was born in Nepal, which has caused me loads of problems in the past, particularly on my UCAS form. I've realised recently that if you say you were born outside the UK, especially in somewhere like Asia, alarm bells ring in people's heads. It's like 'IMMIGRANT ALERT!' or something. So anyway, they clearly were concerned I had malaria or something. I would have thought I would know if I had, or had ever had malaria, but there we go. 

I was finally cleared by the Senior Nurse ("Can you confirm your name, address and date of birth please?") and moved on to do the blood test. This involves them practically stapling your finger with this little device, and then squeezing the blood out of it, and dropping it into solution. The idea is, if your iron levels are right, the blood will sink in 15 seconds. Guess who's blood didn't sink?

She reassured me that a lot of people's blood doesn't sink the first time, so I should try again. Yip-de-doo. Thankfully she didn't have to staple my finger again, as the hole from which the blood was squeezed last time was still oozing blood. Yummy. And, hurrah, the blood sank! Meaning I was put through to the final waiting room. Cue Jaws music.

This was probably the most tense part of the whole experience. By the time they called my name, I was literally shaking. Stupid, but true. I lay down on the bed and waited for my nurse. I think I probably looked pretty pale at this point because random nurses kept smiling at me reassuringly and asking me if I was okay.

Finally, my nurse arrived. He put one of those tourniquet things on my arm so he could see which vein to use. He looked and prodded. Looked more. Prodded a bit more. And then it happened again. He called the Senior Nurse, or the 'Special Nurse' as I had started to call her, to try and find my vein. Turns out I have small veins. The Special Nurse reassured me about my 'small veins' by telling me that it was normal as I have small arms, like I was going to go away with a vein complex or something.

So there they were, both prodding away, trying to find a big one, but their search was in vein. (See what I did there? I'm so punny.) So they tried my other arm, but no such luck. I was starting to get cold feet by this point, so I slightly hopefully asked them if I wouldn't be able to donate but they assured me they would use the best vein I had. And they did. 

Giving blood is completely different to when they take blood in the doctors. My friend Jon thought it was taken through a needle into a tube and that was that, so when I told him your blood is sucked through a tube into a bag he almost spewed. 

Finally, after much prodding and sighing, the needley-tube-thingy was inserted. And it hurt.  They tell you that the iron blood test hurts more than the needle. Lie Number 2. I'm fine with injections, seeing as I had about 10 year growing up in a foreign country, but this is quite a chunky needle. Ouch.

It is quite an odd experience, though, lying there squeezing a roll of dressing to keep your blood pumping, while seeing your blood flow through this tube into a bag which is rocking back and forth in this cradle-esq contraption next to you. The special nurse stayed with me the whole time, asking if I was okay and trying to make conversation. 

The funniest was when she saw my Head Team badge and thought it was some sort of sports team. Just to clarify with anyone out there that doesn't know me, the closest thing I do to sport on a regular basis is 'stew' with my Brownies (which is a strenuous workout, I can assure you!)

Apart from my blood mysteriously slowing down half way through, the actual giving of the blood was quite uneventful. I was a little bit irritated when after the nurse had taken the needle out, she was chatting to another nurse and said 'Well I was going to stop it at 420ml but it was going so well...' 

I was rather disappointed, however, at the final part of the process, which they said involved a 'cup of tea and biscuit'. Lie Number 3. I was offered squash, which is possibly my least favourite drink ever, but I was a good girl and treated it like medicine. No tea though. It was a sad day.

Reading back through this I just realised how negative the whole thing sounds. It was fine, honestly. I would definitely recommend you doing it at least once in your lifetime. And it probably will be different for you because you don't have an awkward birth place or small veins. So whatever you do, don't let this put you off! Hahahaha.

In other news, I haven't blogged in ages (yet again.) Things are happening though. I've had 3 offers for uni (Royal Holloway, Leeds and Exeter) which I'm really happy about. A few months ago I didn't feel ready to go at all but after enduring 2 months of sharing a room with my sister Lydia I am more than ready for a change of scenery. 

People think I'm exaggerating when I say how irritating Lydia can be to share a room with. Don't get me wrong, she's lovely, but singing 'On My Own' for about an hour non stop at the top of your voice (TOP of your voice - I had my headphones full blast and I could still hear her) and then after all this telling me how she wishes she was 'Epony' is  just too much to handle. Eponine, Lyd. Eponine.

But back to uni and all things exciting. Looks like I'm going to be somewhere in the north of England, as if Durham don't give me an offer I'll probably go to Leeds. This is rather exciting as I find northern accents very amusing. 

I was musing over this the other day and said to my dad 'Wouldn't it be funny if I went to Durham and came back with a Yorkshire accent?' to which he dryly replied 'Well yes it would be funny, as Durham's not in Yorkshire!' 

Apparently the whole of the north of England isn't called Yorkshire. Whoops.

*As much as I wish I had made up this clever little pun thingy, I didn't, it's the slogan for Welsh Blood. But still, isn't it clever?! Bud-dum-tshhhh.


  1. Awwh I've missed your blog Sarah! You must do it more often, if only because I'm SO rubbish at keeping in touch with people, and I need to know what's happening with you somehow! Please don't get a vein complex, I'm sure one day you'll find someone who can look past it :P xxx

    1. Awh thanks Libby! I'm going to try and do it more often, I neglected it for a while! Hahaha maybe I should go to a counsellor with my woes ;) Xxx