I don’t like to stand out in a crowd. I’d much rather blend in, be anonymous and just generally be a bit invisible. I really am not that comfortable being the center of attention so do as much as I can to stay out of the limelight, to not cause a fuss and to just get on with what I need to do and leave.
Yesterday felt as far away from those moments as possible.
Life on Thursday really didn’t go to plan.
It started off well. I’d discovered that there was a blood donation session in my area. I’ve been a blood donor before but I haven’t been able to give blood for at least 7 years due to being pregnant, having small children then moving house and just “never getting round to it”.
Yesterday was the perfect opportunity for me to go along, give blood, have a biscuit and a drink then go home. Simple………….. So I thought.
Medical history all up to date and fine, I go onto the new seats, get tipped back so I’m laying back but with my feet up for good circulation then confirm my name, address and date of birth and get ready to go.
In the past I’ve been told I have deep set veins and sometimes it’s hard to find them. This time, it was still a little deep set but they had no trouble. I did the thigh clenching, the leg crossing and the opening and closing the fist exercises as my little plastic bag filled nicely with my pint of blood.
Before I knew it the alarm was going off, the blood donation nurse came over and said “Well done. You’ve finished”. I made conversation saying I didn’t realise I’d done as it seemed much quicker than I remembered and she agreed I was a fast filler and had done a great job. I was slowly bought back up to the sitting position, feeling fine so I was sent over for my post donation drink and snack where I had 2 cups of orange squash and a couple of biscuits. So far so good.
After the recommended 15 minutes I was thinking about going home. I still didn’t have a bus for half an hour and couldn’t be bothered to wander round town so I thought I’d have another 5 minutes, make a trip to the ladies and make a slow walk to the bus station.
This is where it all went wrong. I hung about for another few minutes and began to feel incredibly sick very quickly. I started having palpitations and in the few seconds it took to tell someone I was feeling really ill, I had about 5 people gather round me, help lift me off the chair as everything went blurry, lights were in front of my eyes and I felt light headed. I don’t know if I blacked out but I was lowered onto the floor, my legs elevated and one of the nurses applied wet cotton wool pads to my head and chest as I was burning up and sweating.
After a little while, I don’t know whether it was minutes or seconds, it all just felt like it all happened in the space of 10 seconds. It just flew by. In those moments I had all sorts of nightmare scenarios rushing through my head. An ambulance ride to hospital, hubby being called to collect the kids from school and that’s the last thing I’d want to have my kids to go through.
Back up on one of the special chairs a few minutes/seconds later I had another drink of water with a straw and took 5 minutes just composing myself and getting back to normal. They went through after care and what to do if I felt faint again, to carry my card with me a couple of hours at least. Told me to rest, not to do any strenuous activities, to drink and eat plenty and basically take it easy. I asked if I was still ok to collect my kids from school considering I have to walk and wouldn’t drive today after this even if I did have the car. She said there was no reason why not. I just omitted the fact it’s almost a 2 mile round journey on foot.
Once they were satisfied I was ok, I was back sitting at the table and encouraged to eat more biscuits and keep up my fluids. By now I felt fine. The people I was sitting with before had all recovered and gone and I was sitting with the next set of donors.
I waited and waited but all the drinks had gone straight to my bladder and I was desperate for a trip to the ladies. So I took my bag but left my coat and went for a little walk. I laughed with the nurse who’d been paying close attention to me and said “I’ll leave my coat here, if I’m not back in 10 minutes, send a search party.”
Thankfully that wasn’t needed.
In the wash area I bumped into one of the nurses that grabbed me who smiled and said I was looking much better. Definitely back to the colour a healthy human should be.
I went back, said I’d felt fine since I got up and asked to leave. My nurse agreed I looked better and could go when I was ready.
After all my dramatics and demonstrating how NOT to give blood, my bus was now due in less than 10 minutes so I made my way home.
I was fine the rest of the day just felt a bit of an idiot. Whilst I was in the recovery chair with my feet up I asked if many people fainted and the nurse said normally one or two in the 3 hour session they are open. It’s normally when people get up a little too early or too quick, she explained, not after recovery time when they think about going.
I’m just glad I held on for a few minutes longer and that I didn’t collapse in the toilets, in the street or on the bus and ended up having a trip to A&E in other circumstances. People were able to catch me. Outside I’d have probably had a bang to the head or bruises on the body at the very least and not just a bruised ego.
I’m grateful that these ladies and gentlemen do their jobs so well. That they can give hope and health to those that need it and help and support to those who don’t get it quite right when giving blood like me.