Picture: Heart by my niece Indica-Isa
For the very first time ever I donated blood! I know that many people donate blood and think it’s their civic duty to do so, but for me I thought donating was very strange even if it is lifesaving. Let me explain, I’m so morbid sometimes, my imagination is quite vivid when it comes to things like this: I imagine watching the blood, my life force, drain out of me and think ‘where will it go’. I even think right this minute what refrigerator is my blood sitting in, has it already been used, is it being ‘uploaded’ to someone right now? As crazy as it sounds that’s just me. So now you have an idea as to why I had to note this historic occasion in my timeline.
I’m in my late 30s, 37 to be exact, and it took me this long to donate blood because of fear, but you might ask what made you finally decide to ‘get over it’ and finally donate? Well, my late father was both victimized and saved by blood transfusions. He was a hemophiliac (blood didn’t clot) who had to receive transfusions from time to time; in his late 20s he received a necessary transfusion with a side of hepatitis. In his 50s he was saved by all of the selfless donors who gifted him with enough blood for 80 transfusions when he had a major surgery. That surgery was about 7 years ago and it still has taken me up to this point to get over myself and take the plunge. What made it easy was that the Red Cross visits my job and so they send emails to us asking if we want to donate and make it convenient since they set up shop right at the jobbie. When that email came through this time, I hurriedly replied that I wanted to donate before I could let my fears whisper sweet selfish nothings in my ears. Now after the fact, I’m so glad I jumped on this opportunity. My experience was great! This will not be my first and only experience and I hope others who share similar fears or simply hate needles will challenge themselves and donate. Here are my suggestions for getting over it and following through:
1. Consider the life (lives) you can save by doing so; I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say this, at the very least think about how grateful you would be if you ever needed a blood transfusion.
2. Look away, unless you enjoy watching sharp objects enter your arm and a bright bead of red surface on your skin. The needle is not a big deal if you have someone competent performing the puncture; I just look away so I don’t see it coming.
3. Providing possibilities for someone with a disease that requires specific donors, as a black woman that disease is sickle cell. I opted to have my blood set aside for those patients since matches tend to come primarily from the black community and per the nurse, there are not as many African American donors…I really hope that changes!
4. Snacks and stickers; after donating to a life changing cause, you can sit back relax and enjoy some snacks and juice just like in kindergarten and when you leave you get a sticker too!