Friday, August 31, 2007

Like blood from a stone

On Tuesday, I went up to the village hall to a blood clinic that was being held there. I donated blood once before when I lived in Edmonton, and at that time I had gotten quite faint mid-donation and they'd had to cut me off before I could fill up a full bag. So this time, in preparation, I had lunch, then a second lunch, and headed up about 4pm full of food.

I had to go through the extensive questionnaire about my health and "lifestyle", same as with Canadian Blood Services (over here it's the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, who must be affiliated with National Health Service as all the workers were wearing that uniform). They offer a local anesthetic over here, but since it involves an injection anyway it didn't seem to any advantage.

So I passed the questionnaire test, and the iron-blood-content test, and on I went to one of the beds so they could start draining me. Pretty much as soon as they had the tube into me, the nurse and blood worker started discussing how slow the flow of blood from me was. I was told to keep squeezing my hand, which I did until my wrist was sore and my little finger wasn't moving properly because it didn't have enough blood. The nurse commented that I just wouldn't give up my blood, and after some time limit (15 minutes, perhaps) they pulled me off and I think I'd filled about 3/4 of a bag. I inquired as to what makes the difference in blood flow (I thought it might have been blood pressure), and was told that it's vein size. I have small veins, it seems.

I went out to have my cookie and juice, and started feeling increasing hot and flushed (and drained, pun intended if you so desire), so I had myself led to a bed where I recuperated for probably half an hour before walking back to the hostel. I had actually anticipated that this would happen, based on before, and the fact that I just know that I don't react well to blood loss (probably why my body makes damn sure that it holds on to it). The nurses and blood workers seemed very concerned about me - I don't know if it's unusual for people to react the way that I do, or if the concern is just to ease me (it tends to make me feel a little uncomfortable instead, like I'm a burden).

I talked to a fellow from the village last night who I saw up at the clinic, and we compared stories. He has the opposite problem to me - once they finished taking blood from him and put on some gauze to stop the bleeding, it took a lot to get it stopped. He had to be re-bandaged because his arm started bleeding again. Whereas with me, I didn't bleed into my bandage at all. In terms of survival, I suppose that's a good thing for me, but it sure makes donating difficult.

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