I went to donate blood today and I left feeling defeated. My pulse was too high so they turned me away. This would have been my fifth time donating and I’ve never been turned away before.
If you’ve never given blood, here’s how my experience went today. I signed in and started reading the papers that they gave me while drinking my 2 cups of water. Then they gave me a number and soon after a woman came and took me to one of the cubicles they have set up to take my blood pressure, pulse, etc. This was where I met my downfall. She asked me a bunch of questions and then proceeded to take my pulse. Right away I knew I was going to be lucky to pass the pulse test because I could feel my heart going at a million beats per second. She said it was really high and that she was going to try it again in case she counted wrong. She hadn’t. She then took my blood pressure, also high. Normally my blood pressure is a normal 120/70. Today it was 150/100. I told her that I have had this problem before. Whenever I think about somebody taking my pulse or blood pressure, I start freaking out. She said that she actually has this problem too. It’s part of a condition called White Coat Syndrome. Whenever somebody is being tested by a medical professional, they’re blood pressure is consistently higher because of a fear. While it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one this happens to, it’s also extremely frustrating. I am in no way scared of the blood donation process. I also know there is nothing wrong with my pulse or blood pressure. It’s just that every time I get tested I can feel my heart start to beat faster and my breathing gets shorter and quicker.
Donating blood is one of those things that I do because I know it’s needed. My blood type is O- which is loved because that means I can donate to anybody. I’m not as fortunate though because I can only receive from other O donors. As I was leaving one of the women working there told me to make sure to try again because they really need my blood type. As if I didn’t feel guilty enough.
This winter has been especially hard on the Red Cross because of the blood drives that have been cancelled due to bad weather. Blood donations have not been able to be collected and have risen to 23,000 uncollected. If anybody has been considering donating blood, just do it. It’s definitely not for everybody but you’ll never know if it’s for you until you try. It’s easy to set up an appointment. Just go to redcrossblood.org. Each donation can save up to 3 lives. Next time I try to donate, that’s what I’ll be focusing on. I don’t want to sound like a public service message, but this stuff is really important. And who knows, maybe the next time I go to donate blood, the person that takes my pulse will be wearing a blue coat. Crazier things have happened.