I went to give blood this morning. To my shame, I’ve never done it, because I am too squeamish. It’s never been about having a needle put in my arm (I’ve had blood tests taken), it’s the thought of all that blood draining out of me. But the recent TV ad campaigns have been so powerful and heart-breaking, I felt compelled to overcome this silliness and just do it. It’s been on my “to do” list for months.
I sat there reading the information sheet they gave me this morning and started to get worked up already over the fact that some people faint afterwards. With my blood sugar control issues, I feared I would be one of them.
Because it was my first time, a nurse came in to interview me and I had to fill out a questionnaire. It turned out that because of my travels to Malawi and to Algeria, she wanted to test me for malaria antibodies before letting me donate. There is no malaria anywhere near Algiers, but I don’t mind that they are checking meticulously… if I ever have to receive blood I will appreciate that.
Even though I have had blood tests before without any problem, there was something about the way she spoke about it that made me think this time would be different. Maybe it’s because I was already in an anxious frame of mind. Maybe it’s because the information sheet had alarmed me by saying I’d be offered a local anaesthetic… for what?? Right before leaving the room to get the test tubes, she said, “we use a butterfly system”… and for some reason this awful picture leapt into my mind of something like a butterfly clip forcibly holding my vein wide open! I glanced at the thing in its cellophane packet, and the first thing I saw was what looked like an enormous needle. I looked away in horror. Fortunately I looked back and saw that the other end of the tube actually had a very thin needle in it. Also, the only butterfly-like thing was a little blue plastic tap, presumably to stop the blood flow while changing the test tubes over. Phew.
In about 2 weeks I should have the result, and hopefully I will be able to go and face more of my fears!