Friday, May 24, 2013


Some fears are completely reasonable and rational. For example, any spider, even if only a millimeter wide, should be immediately squashed and disposed of (yelling for other household members to squash and dispose of is preferable to doing so oneself), because it might be a brown recluse spider (even if it looks nothing like one) (which I think is the most common poisonous spider in Oregon, but that might be completely inaccurate; I started to google further information, but that quickly resulted in me wanting to squash and dispose of my computer screen). 

On the other hand, some fears are mostly irrational, and in my experience ultimately based on a fear of not being in control of the situation, and can be overcome. 

I'm no longer afraid of:

Diving: My sister and I were in swim lessons from a fairly young age, and our neighbors across the street had a pool that we would swim in almost every day during the summers. I had no problem with swimming, even in the deep end, but didn't want to try diving. Finally, I spent a summer practicing; starting by kneeling on the side of the pool and leaning in, and eventually worked up to diving from standing on the diving board!

Roller coasters: I grew up near Spokane, which is near Silverwood Theme Park. We went often for several years, but initially I declined to go on any of the roller coasters, especially the Corkscrew, which goes upside down. In this case I'm not sure what changed... one time I just decided it would be worth it, and, hey, guess what, I survived! I now thoroughly enjoy roller coasters, including ones that go upside down.

Ear piercing: My desire for earrings didn't start to overcome the fear until my freshman year of high school, and I almost fainted afterwards. Just the idea that I had just punched holes in my ears made me queasy. Since then I've added two more in each ear lobe (including re-doing the third ones twice, so I've had gun piercings 5 times), and a cartilage piercing, with plans for more. I'm now quite accustomed to punching holes in my ears, and no longer almost faint.

Donating blood: I used to be afraid of needles (see also: afraid of ear piercing). In the past several years, though, I've had to have blood drawn for medical tests (way too often). I used to close my eyes and look away the entire time; now I deliberately watch them insert the needle (the needle is a tube! I mean, duh, but I didn't realize that until I saw it).

Today I donated blood for the first time! Abe went with me to donate, too.

There was a little bit of a wait (we didn't finalize our plans for the day until it was too late to make an appointment online), and once we got started the whole process took about an hour. 

You check in and show ID, and read through a booklet of information about the process and potential restrictions. Then you're taken into a little booth, and a nurse takes your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure, and a small blood sample from your finger to test your hemoglobin level (it has to be at least 12.5 and I was concerned because I've had low iron sometimes, but it was 14.1). Then you complete a questionnaire on the computer with questions about travel, piercings, etc. I had to clarify where exactly the yoga retreat I went to last fall was in Mexico, to make sure it wasn't in a malaria risk zone (Updated to add: I got a call from the Red Cross a few days later saying I couldn't donate for 12 months due to where I went, which was in the province of Nayarit. Per the CDC map and information linked from the Red Cross website , it's not the entire state, and the website lists an area within certain latitude and longitude that is at risk; the nurse used this information when I was at the donation site to determine that the city I was in wasn't included. However, apparently when my donation was processed, since I had listed that province in the questionnaire, they determined I couldn't donate. I certainly understand they have to be safe, but it seems like there's a communication issue, either with the information available at the donation site (because the guy who called me later stated that it was anywhere in that province that was at risk), or with the information that the site provides with the questionnaire - i.e., I guessing the nurse wasn't able to note the fact that she checked the latitude and longitude and that I was only in one city within that province that wasn't in that area.).

Finally, you get to the donation itself! They wipe your arm with iodine (so I guess that's the brownish stuff they show in preparing people for surgery on tv?), and once the needle is in you're instructed to pump/move your fingers every few seconds. The needle appears quite a bit larger than the ones for medical blood draws. The blood goes into a bag, like I'd expected, but what I didn't realize is that the bag is part of packet with 4 bags and several vials. The nurse reassured me ahead of time that you only have to fill one of the bags; the rest are for processing the blood into its different components at a later time. Each bag and vial has a barcode tied to your information, and essentially each time a nurse interacts with you, they scan all of them and ask your name.

It takes 5 - 10 minutes to fill the bag (Abe asked how long his took - just under 5 minutes. I told him he needs to continue asking when he donates so he knows when he's set a new PR). Then, of course, you get snacks and hang out for a few minutes, and then you're free to go. 

I'm so glad I got over this fear so I can contribute with regular blood donations! Check out the Red Cross' information for first time donors if you're nervous too.

1 comment:

  1. Woot! That's awesome!

    I didn't know they still used iodine at the blood drives. When I give platelets recently they've been using something else--I always think of it as purple, but I think it's actually clear and picks up a purplish tinge from the marking they do to find my vein.


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