I donated blood for the first time during a blood drive while I was in college. It was also the last time for quite a while. I had very low blood pressure back then (I’d often get dizzy from standing up quickly) and just about fainted from the donation along with feeling somewhat nauseous. So, the idea got lodged in my brain that blood donations were just something I shouldn’t do.
I felt the same way about running for a long time. After injuring my knees as a kid I couldn’t run for more than a block without pain, so that was another activity in the “don’t” column. Ten years ago, however, I joined my wife for a run when she was getting back into it and found that everything doesn’t necessarily get worse as you age. Contrary to conventional wisdom, running *properly* actually made my knees stronger and now it’s my primary source of cardio, stress relief, and outdoor fun.
So, the idea of trying blood donation again had been nagging at my mind for a while. Unlike running it wasn’t just a matter of lacing up my shoes and leaving the house, though, so procrastination won out for several years. I needed a little extra nudge to my motivation to get me to commit and Think Geek finally provided that in the form of a blood drive at their HQ on March 28, 2013. As a fan of the company and unemployed potential job applicant, Timmy’s lair seemed like the ideal location for my donation restoration.
As with running, it turned out my donating abilities had improved with age. There wasn’t a hint of faintness or nausea and I even got some swag (including a Jar Jar Binks whoopie cushion … you’re jealous, I know). In the U.S., donations of whole blood can be made every eight weeks. Shortly after I got my eligibility reminder eight weeks later, I also received an email about World Blood Donor Day on June 14. That seemed an appropriate time to donate again (plus they mentioned food and giveaways, which always works for me).
After the June 14 donation, I started going back exactly every eight weeks, which often coincided with a special date. Among these were Black Friday (when donors received a $10 gas card) and my birthday. On my birthday I walked into the door and before I even reached the receptionist I heard someone mention the “birthday boy”. That was a little creepy until I realized they were talking about someone else who was already hooked up.
One lesson I learned from the Black Friday donation, which happened to be two days before a five mile trail run, is not to donate two days before a five mile trail run. I ended up volunteering to man the food tent at the race instead of running because just the walk up the steep hilly area to the registration table was making me tired. So, for the final donation of this first year in March I delayed the regular eight week cycle by a few days until the day after a 10k trail race, when lying down and eating cookies is even more appealing than usual.
That brings me to a total of seven donations, which is a bit over half the amount of blood in my body. So far I’ve only given whole blood. It’s the quickest procedure (usually in and out in less than an hour) and least frequent. While being unemployed has made scheduling the appointments easier, I’m committed to continuing even if my job search finally bears fruit.