Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Adventures: Hero For A Day

Today the hubby and I got to play the role of heroes. We'll never know the people we helped, but that's okay with us.

Yep, we donated blood today. It's something we've both done a few times. Back in high school, we'd go out for lunch once classes were over, then head to the local donation location. We made it into a little afternoon date if you will.

Well, this past week the Big Red Bus, with the Florida Blood Centers, was at my school, and we both realized it had been a while since the last time we had donated. We made a plan to go out this weekend and find our local donation spot. Luckily, our closest location had Saturday hours, which works great for us.

The plan was to eat a large breakfast and then head straight to the center. However, other things got in the way, so we got there a couple hours after we had eaten. I made sure to eat something small before we left so that I'd have something on my stomach and I grabbed a bottle of water as we headed out the door. I am prone to nausea while/after donating; the more food and fluids I have prior to donating, the better.

So we got there and started the paperwork, which seems to always take longer than the actual donation process. Turns out it had been more than a while since we had last donated. My last donation date was January 2009! And Dan's was even further back - 2007! Ok, so we were slackers when it came to donating blood. At least we're donating, even if it isn't six times a year, which I think is what matters.

For anyone who hasn't donated and wants to know the process, here it goes. First, you fill out a questionaire about your travels, sexual partners, recent illnesses, etc. Basically its to determine whether you have an infection or have possible been exposed to some sort of blood disorder. Then they take you back into a little room and verbally go over some of the questions, and if needed, ask for you to elaborate. For example, one of the questions was if you had travelled outside of the country in the past year, which we both answered yes to. They asked us where we went, and they wrote down all of the locations we visited on our honeymoon cruise. Then, they prick your finger to determine your iron levels. And lastly, they take your blood pressure and temperature. If all of your levels are normal, they escort you to a lounge chair.

Then, they get everything ready. This is the part I hate the most. Needles and I don't get along. But, being the daughter of a lab technician, I've learned to just suck it up and deal with it. My phobia and momentary pain is nothing compared to saving someone else's life. So, as long as I don't look at the needle going in or it sitting in my arm, I'm good.

My phlebotemist was awesome! Little pain. Got it in the first time. And, he even put a little gauze pad on top of the needle (without being asked!) so that I didn't have to look at it.

Now, don't be intimidated by all of the tubing that comes attached to the donation bag. It's basically there to route your blood into different pouches for the different methods of collecting. They have to get four tubes of blood on top of the donation pouch. The purpose of the plastic tubing is to keep you from being stuck more than once. To collect enough blood (1 pint), it takes about 10 minutes or so.

 Then, they give you snacks. Like water, fruit juice, crackers, and cookies. 

They insist that you eat and drink something before you leave. One, so that you start the process of replenishing the fluids you just lost. Two, I think they do it to make sure you're not going to have any sort of reaction.

Once they are confident you're not nauseated, light-headed, or faint, they let you go on your way. We decided to go out for lunch afterwards and headed to one of our favorite fast food places for some chicken and milkshakes.

I love that donating blood is a fast and cheap date that you can do with your significant other, or even make a girls/guys day out of it. We're planning on going more regularly now that we know how closer and convienient our donation center is. We're even considering doing ALYX donation next time around. Smaller needle? Less likely to have reactions? Twice as many lives saved? Sounds like a deal!

Have you considered donating blood? Maybe it has been a while since the last time you donated. If your in Florida, and need to find a location, you can search here. Be a hero!

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