Giving blood for the first time

Giving blood for the first time

Are you a blood donor?  I must admit that it’s something I’ve always meant to do, but never quite got around to.  Until a few weeks ago.  A friend really wanted to go to a local session, but didn’t want to go alone.  Ok, I’ll come with you.  Registering on the Give Blood website is easy and only took me a few minutes.  If I’d registered earlier I’d have received a card and confirming my registration number before we went to donate blood.  My friend checked the timings for the session, we both needed to fit it in around school.  All the timed slots are booked but we can attend as ‘walk-in’s’.  Let’s get there when the session starts and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long.  Ok, sounds like a plan, we’d be giving blood for the first time.

I’m not a big fan of needles or my own blood, if I’m totally honest.  I used to dread injections for holidays to far-flung destinations.  But as soon as you fall pregnant, someone always seems to want a blood test for something, so it really doesn’t bother me in quite the same way these days!

So the day for giving blood for the first time came.  I had breakfast and lunch as normal, and swapped my trusty cuppa for glasses of water.  I met my friend and off we went.  We filled in some forms and read an information booklet, drank a pint of water and waited our turn.  Please don’t take too long – me and bladder control these days!  Yes, I really am rubbish at pelvic floor exercises.

Anyway, my friend and I were called to different booths and I saw a nurse who read through my form and queried a couple of points, took a pin prick blood sample to check for anemia and I was good to go.

I moved to a special chair, was made comfortable and was talked through what would happen next.  I needed to roll a ball in my hand continually and clench and unclench the muscles in my bum;all to aid blood flow.  The nurse tilted me back once I was hooked up and asked if I’d drunk much water the day before.  No, I’m a tea drinker, not a water drinker.  It’s best if you drink lots of water for 24 hours before donating blood, it broadens the veins.  Your veins are quite narrow.  Ok.

My blood flowed slowly, I’m not sure what that actually means, other than it took longer than normal.  But for me, the time passed quite quickly.  I was unhooked and went to sit down with a drink and a couple of chocolate Bourbons.  I’d survived giving blood for the first time.  Unfortunately, my friend wasn’t so lucky.  After 70ml of the 470ml normal donation she felt incredibly faint and the nurses suggested that it was best to stop the donation immediately.  She was gutted.  In hindsight she thinks she probably hadn’t eaten enough beforehand, and she has a very slight frame.

Giving blood for the first time

I felt fine, I’d survived giving blood for the first time and had already registered to give blood again next year after the recommended 16 week rest period.  That was the Tuesday, I ate and drank normally for the rest of the day.  Slept well and felt fine when I got up the next morning.  I showered, dressed and went downstairs to prepare breakfast.

That’s when everything changed.  I felt hot and clammy, my legs went.  I’ve never fainted in my life, but I felt very unsteady.  Luckily Daddy P was around having not long come in from work.  He took over getting breakfast, it soon became apparent that I wasn’t up to the school run, or driving to an appointment out-of-town.  I felt incredibly drained, very wobbly and ended up sleeping for 3 hours straight.  Even then, I felt awful for the rest of the day, not with it (no change there I know), not ill, but not well. Daddy P collected Monkey from school and the boys looked after me until bedtime!

I felt tired for the next few days, but nothing as bad as the Wednesday.  I’ve asked relations if they’ve had this reaction but no.  Some have felt a bit faint on the same day as giving blood, but nothing more.

So maybe it’s not even related?  I don’t know, but I’ll certainly have to investigate further before my next donation.  I hope it was just a one-off occurrence.  Only time will tell.

Any ideas or tips for the future would be much appreciated.


5 thoughts on “Giving blood for the first time

  1. I’m unable to give blood as I had a blood transfusion after LM’s birth. My situation wasn’t life threatening but without the blood I received my recovery would have taken months and months, which would have been terrible with a two year old and new baby to look after. I admire everyone who gives blood so much, so thank you!

  2. I give blood regularly and other than feeling a little drained later in the day I haven’t felt unwell so far.
    Did you eat properly for the next few days, no skipping meals or not drinking much?
    If you continue to do the bum exercises when you get home it helps to keep your blood pressure up, which stops you fainting.
    Strange you fainted several days later though, hopefully it was just a one off.

  3. That does sound strange, I’ve still never done it which I am not proud of. I wonder if you were fighting some sort of bug or something at the time? Well done on donating, again!

  4. I’m sad to say I’ver not done it either. My mum gave blood once when my sister and I were little and we were with her. She felt faint and almost collapsed and needed a wheelchair to rest until she felt better. This has stayed with me for life and I just can’t do it. Having said that, one day I’d like to but for now I leave the donations to my husband who isn’t affected by it in the slightest.
    I should be fine with it as, like you, I’ve had so many operations, blood tests and drips to last a lifetime!
    Well done for donating xx

  5. I am so scared of needles that I have never given blood. I’m not sure about your reaction but I’m glad you’re feeling better.

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