Thursday, August 6, 2009

Do Some Good. Feel Better.

So this is my 50th post, right? And I never thought I'd make it past the 6th one. So we're all here and this is a momentous occasion in its own way (at least for me it is) and I'd like to celebrate a little. And by "celebrate" I mean subtly try to coerce you into doing some good. I'm a sneaky broad like that.

So a while back, United Blood Services gave me a call. I'll be completely honest with you, Internet.... I had been avoiding them. I admit it. Not proud of it, but it's the truth. I knew what they wanted. Several UBS e-mails and phone calls had made it my way. And I avoided them all and thought "GEEEEZE Don't they know that I just don't have the time right now?!" So when someone else (not naming names) answered the phone and passed it to me I groaned a little.

Holding the phone between my ear and shoulder, I listened to the woman on the other end as I got dressed. There was a drive going on the next morning and she wondered if I could spare some time to come on in and donate blood. I'm not quite sure what it was - maybe it was sound of her voice...bracing herself for a "No, I'm sorry I can't make it. I just don't have the time." - but I said yes. I scheduled an appointment for the next morning, a Saturday, at 9:30 am.

The truth is I used to donate quite regularly. But then one skipped appointment turned into several months of not scheduling an one which then turned into avoiding their phone calls. It's all so silly really. A little bit selfish. I know a lot of people don't donate for a lot of reasons. Some people think they don't have the time. Some are scared of needles. And some just don't know what to expect. So for all of you that use that as a reason for not donating blood... Please keep reading.

Here it is. My donation start to finish. Photos. Play by Play.
Don't worry there are no graphic photos for those of you who are squeamish.

Setting Up Your Donation
First off, there are several ways to get started with your donation:
  • You can visit a mobile donation center (basically an RV that's set up with 2 or 3 interview interview rooms, 4 or so places to lie down while donating, and a set-up for donating plasma.) These often make their way around town stopping at businesses or offices. And sometimes the locations of these mobile units are broadcast on the radio station.
  • You can call your local United Blood Services location and schedule an appointment. A list of locations along with their phone numbers can be found here.
  • If you've ever donated before you may be on a calling list of some sort. You can easily set up an appointment like I did when you receive a call. Your information should already be in the system so it's easy to be a repeat donor. I even got an e-mail confirmation with all the details of my appointment.
  • And if all else fails, just walk in to your nearest UBS location. The wait may be a little bit longer, but I'm sure any location would be thrilled to have an extra donor that day.
I made my appointment with the Lafayette, LA location.
(1503 Bertrand Dr.Lafayette, LA 70506 337.235.5433)

A little bit unsure about it all.

Arriving At Your Appointment
When arriving to your appointment, there will be a sign-in sheet where you need to fill out your name, phone number, & e-mail address. (Some sign-in sheets may require additional information). At my location, I signed in at the front desk and took a seat in the waiting room.

The Interview
Once it was my turn, a nurse called my name and had me wait in a private interview room. There are no photos from this because what happens in the interview room is completely confidential. After a few minutes, the nurse joined me in the interview room and closed the door. When donating, you must bring a valid photo ID. I gave the nurse my ID and she entered my information into the computer. During the interview, I had my blood pressure and temperature checked (at the same's that for a speedy check up?) After she checked my pulse, she pricked my finger to take a tiny sample of blood to test my iron levels. Next, she asked a series of questions about my medical history and current health. The first time I heard all the questions I was all "say whaaaaaaaaaaa?" but I realize it's important to listen to each question and answer honestly. The donation bags were labeled with all my information and I signed off on a few things.

Prepping to Donate
I was brought into the donation area and was told which chair to sit in. I laid back in the chair and put my legs up. I chose which arm I wanted to donate with ( left! so I could use the right to hold the camera haha) and placed it up on the arm of the chair. A strip of rubber was tied around my upper arm as an tourniquet and the crook of my arm was sterilized with alcohol.

I watched a bit of tennis as I waited for the actual donation to begin.

The BIG Shebang: The Actual Donation
My nurse then came to insert the needle and begin the donation. I know there are a lot of you that don't like needles, and while this isn't a fail proof "cure," it's a little trick that helps me ... Cause let's face it. Who really enjoys having a needle in their arm? Not me. So I look away and take a deep breath as she inserts the needle. Then I ask her to cover it with gauze and tape it in place all before I look again. Still hate the sight of that? Bring a cardigan or sweater with you and ask them to drape it over your arm before you turn your head back around. I was given a little foam "do-dad" to squeeze every few seconds to get the blood a-movin'. First a small bag (perhaps a few ounces) was filled up and then with out having to do a single thing, the nurse clipped & switched the tubing around so that donation went into a larger plastic bag. And that's that. It doesn't take long to complete. The nurse came around to seal up the donation and remove the needle (again this where the head turn and deep breath came in to play.) She asked me to hold the gauze in place and to hold my arm straight up to stop any bleeding. Then she wrapped my arm with some purple medical tape and told me I could get up when I was feeling okay. She then gave me some guidelines for post-donation concerning eating/drinking/activities.

After Donating
After donating, they asked me to please stay at least 15 minutes before leaving. There was a separate little cafe area that was set up with tables and chairs.

There was a soda machine and several juices.

And oh-so yummy treats (Muffins, Granola Bars, Brownies...)

So I took a seat to rest as I ate my chocolate chip muffin, drank my diet coke, and watched s'more tennis.

Nom Nom.
From getting out of my car, interviewing, donating, resting 15 minutes to getting back into my car... the whole thing took less than an hour. Yep. And I said I didn't have the time.

If you guys have any questions or concerns about donating blood, please feel free to email me or visit the United Blood Services website.

So this month, I challenge each an every person who reads this to give it a try. It's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be and not gunna lie... you feel pretty fabulous for doing some good.


Kristen Sara said...

Giving blood is pretty rough for me... I pass out, and feel sick for days after, but I still make sure to do it at least once a year. I have a rare blood type so I know it's important to do... So cool of you to go!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an awesome endorsement. On behalf of my staff and the patients lives that will be touched from your blood donation, THANK YOU! We hope to see you again in 8 weeks!
From Susan Begnaud, Executive Director at UBS

Kora Bruce said...

Kristen - I definitely know my post isn't a fix-all for all the things that comes along with donating, but let me just say I think its soooo amazingly awesome that you donate even though you face those side effects.

Susan - WOW! What an honor to get such a compliment from you. Thank you for all the work that you and your staff do on a daily basis! Annd I can't wait to continuee on with my donations