I’m finally emerging from my sad cloud of self-centredness and beginning to feel more like myself. Slowly, I’ve turned my attention towards helping others and while I’m still concentrating on my own needs, my overall focus is decidedly less self-involved. I’m setting goals with dual functions that both challenge myself and are also of benefit to others (such as raising money for the Terry Fox Foundation) and this weekend I added another task to the list: I donated blood for the first time.
I don’t mean to overhype what I’ve done because in the end, it’s not that big of a deal; it really isn’t, and I mean that in the best possible way. As a first time donor, the process was a bit longer because I needed to be screened but in spite of that, the entire appointment took about an hour and it didn’t even hurt that much. I won’t lie, it hurt a little bit and was a touch uncomfortable, but honestly, when you consider the importance of blood donation (especially from A and O types!) and how Canada’s blood supply hit a six-year low last fall, the discomfort becomes tolerable and decision to help out is easy. I’ve endured more pain for less important things in the past.
I’ve wanted to donate blood for a long while but have found excuses for not doing so. I think, ultimately, I was afraid it would hurt, which scared me but two things have changed my mentality. The first and most important event is that my dad got sick. Specifically, when he was in the hospital, my dad required transfusions in advance of his surgery and post-op as well. Perhaps I’m a slow learner but until that moment, whenever I thought of blood donation I selfishly thought of myself first rather than the beneficiary. Seeing my dad hooked up to the IV, receiving someone else’s generously donated blood, demonstrated for me the necessity of blood products and altered my perspective dramatically. So that was reason number one.
The second thing that prompted me to donate blood now is significantly less noble. My brother and I are three years a part and fiercely competitive. My brother happens to be a long time donor and one day, weeks ago, he pulled out his shiny donor card to brag, which encouraged me to get my own butt in gear and head to the blood clinic. Now, after my first donation, my fiance’s interest has been piqued and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to motivate him to make a donation as well.
My next appointment is a few months from now but I plan on dropping by the Canadian Blood Services clinic again in the coming weeks, this time to do a simple swab test for stem cell donations. It only takes a moment and could help save someone’s life. While Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch program is seeking all types of people, they’re urgently in need of male donors, aged 17-35. The more diversity we have in the system, the better, as it helps meet the changing needs of our population.
There are plenty of reasons why you should or should not donate blood and I would never want to coerce anyone into doing so. The choice to donate should be yours alone, and a decision you arrive at based on what’s important to you. All I want to do is encourage those that have been thinking about it, but have been held back by fear of pain or discomfort, to consider how much we let those feelings dictate our actions. If in the end, you decide you’re not ready then that’s fine but if what you need is a bit of encouragement or subtle push, I’ll be here to provide that for you.
Side Note: Social media seems to LOVE alliteration and I couldn’t decide whether today’s issue was better suited to “Motivation Monday,” “Wellness Wednesday,” or another categorization of which I’m not aware. I’m not teasing anyone for using these hashtags – I use them myself – but I wanted to figure out how best to optimize this post because I think it’s an important one. In the end, I settled on today for no other reason than the fact that I think this issue matters every day, and I can essentially apply it to any/all alliterated dates.