A few weeks ago I made an appointment to donate blood at United Blood Services. If there’s one thing that makes me totally uncomfortable, it’s needles. I hate needles. I hate mosquitoes. My skin is there for a reason, and that reason does not include getting poked, by human or otherwise.
However, I decided recently that I really should get over myself and make an effort to donate blood regularly. (It saves lives you know. Yes, plural. One blood donation can be separated into its various parts and used to treat multiple people.) If it wasn’t for my hangup about needles, giving blood would probably hover somewhere between boring and a little bit fun — mostly because after donation, you have free reign to munch on the likes of these with zero guilt in order to replenish your blood sugar levels:
Sign. Me. UP!
Prior to my donation, I got a good night’s rest, did a little yoga in the morning, drank about a liter of water, and had a filling, moderately low fat breakfast. My donation was a breeze. Because I treated myself well, from poke to finish the actual donation part only took 7 minutes, and I didn’t feel lightheaded or sick to my stomach.
It was the best I’d been to myself for weeks.
As I waited for my appointment, I found it odd that I don’t treat myself that way every day.
Why not? If I could feel great while having my life force sucked straight out of my veins, why can’t I feel great all the time?
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat nourishing, lower fat foods
- Eat foods rich in iron (mainly meat and seafood — sorry veg-heads) and foods that help you absorb iron (like fruits and veggies rich in vitamins C and B)
- Take 15 minutes to sit down and relax (with or without a cookie!) when your body needs a rest
It seems like common sense, but if it was that common, the blood donation organizations wouldn’t be constantly reminding you to do these things before and after donating.
If you’ve never donated blood before, it’s not that bad, and it’s totally worth it. You can only donate once every eight weeks anyway, and hospitals are constantly in blood shortages. A lot of donation organizations go so far as to offer rewards to donors. In the summer, my donation center usually runs a “pint for a pint” program (donate a pint of blood and get a coupon for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream). Via the website you can earn and redeem points towards movie tickets and stuff. They’ll even track your cholesterol levels for you.
But mostly, it’s about saving lives. A few minutes of discomfort for you could be the world for someone in need.
And might I add that you feel like a total rock star afterward? I mean, seriously, you save freaking lives. You’re like the Batman of Blood, or the Han Solo of Hemoglobin, or — you get the idea!
What’s your blood type? (I’m O+, the most common type.)
When was the last time you donated blood?