Today was my third visit to the blood van; my first visit proved that I was quite a capable doner, but they denied me on my second visit due to a recent bout of sickness.
Anyway – today I was determined to make up for last visit’s shortcoming, so I enthusiastically walked through the rain to the blood van, and checked myself in. After satisfying them with my answers to the usual barrage of questions – “Are you feeling well today?”, “Have you been to North Queensland in the last four weeks?”, “Have you ever ‘Used drugs’ by injection or been injected, even once, with drugs not prescribed by a doctor or dentist?” (etc) – they lay me down in a booth, and hooked up the extractor!
Everything was going swimmingly, and my donation was done in just over six minutes. Unfortunately, after they removed the cannula, things when from “swimmingly” to more of a “drowningly”. One of the nurses walking past – lets call her “N1” – turned to me and asked, “Are you feeling ok?”. To which I replied, “Yes, just fine thanks!”.
She then said, “Oh, it’s just that you’re looking a bit… well, are you feeling faint at all?”; I started to reply, “No, I’m… ” and then wouldn’t you know it – I started feeling faint! “Actually yes – I do feel a little faint, now that you mention it…”
That’s when things kicked up a gear. Another nurse literally materialised, right in front of my eyes. I think I’ll call him “Supernurse”, because he seemed to be the dude in charge. He said, “If you could just turn over on your side, and take some deep, purposeful breaths for me…” – which I did. At this point, N1 had placed a cool towel on my forehead, and was frantically fanning my face to try and stop me from passing out. Successfully! I was feeling better after a minute, but continued to lie down, sipping some orange juice.
The next stage of recovery was to sit up. Success! Well, for about five minutes, after which time I said, “I think I need to lie down again”. A different nurse – N2 – who was attending the lady opposite me spun around and said, “Yes, by all means… I might just put you on some oxygen, too. Sometimes it helps, you know.” – and then proceeded to rig me up with an oxygen mask. Oh dear. I had become that guy.
Finally, after about ten minutes of oxygen, I was ready to sit up again – this time, completely successfully! My blood pressure seemed to keep improving after that, so after another ten (or so) minutes and I was out the door, feeling like somewhat of a failure!
So why did this happen? Well, probably for a number of reasons:
- I got my flu vaccination yesterday, so my body was probably busy developing antibodies for that;
- I had a terrible night’s sleep last night; and
- I hadn’t really eaten anything all day.
That last point is the one I feel most stupid about; we had made smoothies for breakfast (which we regularly do), which are both nutritious and filling – but I suspect that in the face of a blood donation, they don’t do a very good job of regulating your blood/sugar level. Had I remembered that it was blood donation day, I would have chowed down some scrambled eggs!
Anyway – lots of lessons to be learned there, I suppose – the next time I donate I’ll be sure to have slept well, eaten well, and avoid flu vaccinations!