May 8, 2015

Donating blood: The Interview

FINALLY going back to donate blood today after a shameful, multi-year hiatus. Looking forward to my entrance exam, which usually goes something like this:

*usual review of lengthy questionnaire, then consultation…*
"Hmmm, interesting scar you have on your left forearm there.”
*Nurse's pulse begins to race*
“It’s a grafting scar leftover. I don’t shoot heroin if that’s what you’re thinking”
*nurse's pulse begins to race faster*
“Yeah. You’ll note I chopped off some fingers. Docs tried to reattach them but they needed some extra vein length”
“OK well, that should be fine. Ah yes, I see it on your file. Your tetanus is up to date, though?”
“Yeah, don’t worry, I manage to critically injure myself once every decade just to be sure I get the tetanus shot.”
“When was your last tetanus shot, then?”
“June 21st, 2010”
“Oh, that’s very specific. How do you know the date?
“My two year old son sent me to hospital when he split my head open with his teeth. Long story. Happy birthday to my son, happy fathers’ day to me.”
“Any resulting illnesses?”
“It almost went septic, but I managed to avoid that with a week of IV antibiotics and fluids”
Almost… went septic?”
Yeah, this is what the screening room looks like when
they leave to check your file. exciting stuff. 
*Visible beads of sweat begin to appear on nurses brow*
“Yeah, all good though. I got a note on my file about that, even though I haven’t been in to donate for years.”
*Nurse goes to find file notes, comes back*

“Okay found it.… Any other surgeries or illnesses in your history?”
“Hepatitis A.”
*more sweat on nurses’ brow*
“Sorry… hepatitis?”
“Yes. A type. The curable one. The one I got follow-up blood tests and clearance letters from my doctor for, specifically so I could continue to donate blood. It’s in my file.”
*Nurse goes away again for a while*
“OK so we can’t find that in your file. How did you contract Hep A?”
“Working at Earl’s restaurant, far as anyone knows. Inconclusive investigation from the health authority. About that file, please look harder.”
*nurse goes away again*
“OK we found it and it looks like you’re good. Few more questions for you. Have you ever felt light-headed during or after a donation?”
“Yes, once. I passed out on my feet.”
“Oh. And when was that?”
“2002. My front two teeth are fake thanks to that one.”
It's all goooood!
“Any surgeries, piercings or tattoos  in the last six months? “
“Surgery, yes”
*Nurse now wiping sweat from brow*
“What for?”
“Hemorrhoidectomy, if you must know.”
*slough of follow up questions*
“OK, I think we’re done. You feel well today?”
“Yep, fine!”
“Thank you for coming in!”
So this is a lighthearted look at what it’s like for me to go through the screening at Canadian Blood Services. It actually takes me WAY longer to answer their questions than it does for my iron-rich blood stream to pump out 500 ml of the good stuff.

Fact is, it’s worth it. Donating blood saves lives. 

I myself needed a wee nip of donated blood back in the days when I cut off my fingers, albeit it a very small amount. I know there are plenty of exclusionary politics around people who can and cannot donate, but I’m not going to let that stop me from making donations. As I said at the outset, it’s been quite a long time since I made a donation; years, in fact. I hope the visit I am making today gets me back on the wagon!

I'll add a photo to the blog to prove I made it through the interview!