Monday, May 15, 2006

What's a Little Blood Between Strangers?

I'm going to tell you why you should get off your rear end and schedule an appointment at the nearest Red Cross Blood Drive...and I'm also going to tell you why I won't be doing the same.

For whatever reason, I had lived most of my life under the impression that diabetics could not give blood. I'm not sure where I heard this. So, for years, every time there was a blood drive I was felt partially thankful and partially guilty at the same time. Thankful, because the fact is the idea of giving blood probably scares everyone just a tad. I'll admit, even as a diabetic, the idea of that needle going in and taking away part of my life can be scary.

But at the same time, I felt guilty. There is a huge need for blood, and I couldn't give. The guilt was short-lived, however, since I couldn't give. Right?

Wrong. Turns out, diabetics can give. So, the next blood drive at my church, and I rolled up my sleeve and gave. Contrary to claims made, giving blood does hurt. Or, at least, it hurt me. But it wasn't really the needle that was the problem.

Imagine what it would feel like to have your life force sucked out of you from the inside out, pulling at your insides from every inch of your body, kind of like the scene from that movie The Dark Crystal. That's sort of what it felt like. It wasn't painful, per se, but this weird sensation that you are somehow being made less. Hard to part in words, and at best, it could be called uncomfortable. But I figured fifteen minutes of discomfort would mean so much for those who could use the blood.

After I was done, I was pleased with myself, and I recovered very quickly. So, several months later, I decided to give again at the blood drive at work. I showed up and gave. This time, it wasn't as uncomfortable, though I still had that same sensation. Still, no big deal.

That is, until I went to sit down for my "free" juice and cookies. My breathing started turning labored and I felt all sweaty and cold and hot at the same time. Everything started moving in slow motion. In many ways, it felt like low blood sugar...yet different.

The workers laid me down on my back and gave me a paper bag to breathe into. They gave me several containers of juice and water, and I felt sick to my stomach.

It took me three hours to get up enough strength to return to my desk. Turns out, I was dehydrated before I gave blood, hence my bad reaction. But it was enough to make me scared to go back. I, frankly, never want to experience that again.

Okay. Now that I've managed to scare you away from the process, let me say that there is nothing to be afraid of, in general. I had a bad experience, but that isn't the typical case. And right now, blood donations are horribly low. Giving blood one time can help up to four different people. They are in particular need of O- and O+ blood types. So, go give blood. And to help you along, you can go to this website for more information: http://www.redcross.org/donate/give.

2 comments:

Keith said...

Ryan:
I really appreciate this post as I'm trying to make a decision on this exact issue. Sorry you had a tough time on the second round.

Sounds like with the proper hydration I might be OK though. I'm putting your blog on my favorites list so I'll be checking back frequently. Take care!

RyanBruner said...

Thanks for dropping in, Keith!

I truly think my problem was simply dehydration (which is what the Red Cross staff told me). But the feelings I experienced are enough to make me hesistant. Once I gather up the nerve, I'll be out there again.

My diabetes had nothing to do with the problems I experienced.