A couple of nights ago I received a call requesting I donate blood through the United Blood Services.  I told the representative calling that I was busy on the nights she requested, which I was.  Then she suggested other nights where I was available.  I explained that every time I go to donate my iron levels are not high enough to donate.

She then explained all the ideas of how to increase my iron that I had heard before with no success.  She then explained to me something I had never heard of before.  Caffeine keeps your body from absorbing iron.  I told her that I do drink A LOT of Diet Dr. Pepper.  With this new idea I was determined to donate!!

The past couple of days I have stayed away from caffeine and tried to eat iron rich foods.  I don’t think I’m very good at this.  I mostly like things that are not green leafy veggies.  So today was the moment of truth!  I left work to go to my appointment at the blood bank.

When I got there the nice lady at the front desk gave me a packet of all the reasons a person could be disqualified from donating!  Looking through them I mentally checked off each of these items and knew I was good to go.  I have not been to Europe nor have I taken any medications on the list a mile long.

The next step was to talk to the gal who “interviewed” me.  I explained to her up front she may want to test my iron first because I knew that would be the only real deal breaker.  She tested my blood and I passed!  I can’t believe I finally had enough iron to pass!  I know most people would not be so excited about this but this was super exciting to me!  She asked all the questions and then set me up with the next phase of this experience.

She then explained to me that they had recently conducted a study that if donors ate a salty snack while donating they felt better after donating.  She then guided me over to the “salty snack bar”.  There were Corn Nuts, some sort of cheese crackers and chips.  I opted not to choose the Corn Nuts (I promise to tell you my Corn Nut story later.  Long story short is they are loud and smell very strong.)  I chose the cheesy crackers and a Gatorade.  Oh yes I have to mention there were beverages as well.  I was feeling a little spoiled at this point. (The staff was exceptionally friendly, although I suppose if you expect someone to part with their blood by way of a pointy needle you really should be kind.)

Next I was introduced to the next kind lady, Mary, who would be drawing my blood.  She asked which arm I would like her to use, to which I replied, “The one you will have to poke less.”  I promise I didn’t say it rude but I think I made her a little nervous.  After a little poking and prodding she put a blood pressure cuff on my arm and asked me to squeeze my fist a couple of times.  Apparently my veins were not on board with this decision to give blood and took a hike deep under cover!  Another friendly phlebotomist came over and consulted with Mary and found a vein.  It was in there deep but she said it was a big fat vein!  Yep I have fat veins.  (This made me giggle a bit.)

Shortly after some discussions the needle was in my arm and even drawing blood.  Thank you Mary!  She told me after I was all done that I’m a fast bleeder.  I wasn’t sure what that meant.  She explained the average time for blood donation is seven to twelve minutes.  Mine was only five minutes!  Yep I’m an overachieving blood donor.  Not too shabby for the first time!

After all was said and done I scheduled my next appointment.  I also found out that United Blood Services has a program called “Blood Heros“.    It’s a reward program where you accumulate points for donating blood.  For keeping each appointment you receive 100 points even if you find you can’t donate blood on that visit, like if you don’t have enough iron.  You get an additional 100 points for donating!  You can check out all the cool stuff you can redeem your points for on their website here.

This was a great experience and as odd as it sounds I look forward to going back to donate again.  Also after you donate they ask you to remain in the “cantina” area as they affectionately call it for 15 minutes.  Here there is a refrigerator fully stocked with cold bottled water, another snack bar including freshly popped popcorn and a great selection of magazines to read.  Plus there are lots of great people to dote on you and make sure you are feeling okay.  I was also told to go home and have a hearty meal for dinner!  Yep they told me to eat.  I’m so going to go back!