Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Selfish Me: Why I Chose To Donate Blood

In the immortal words of an overweight ginger tomcat: I hate Mondays. Mostly just because they herald Tuesdays, admittedly; the deceptively easygoing 10am start, with two of my favourite modules in nice digestible 1 hour slots and a wonderful 2 hour lunch break that allows me to dash home and get my lunch rather than trying not to cry at the till over the massively overpriced fare at the campus marketplace ... it all adds up to a rather nasty shock the next day.

This week, though, my Monday was a little bit different. Namely in that I was looking forward to the end of the day, rather than dreading each passing hour as part of the slow downward spiral toward another detestable Tuesday.

What was this joy? Lying in a plastic bucket with a three-inch needle in my arm, clenching and unclenching my fist as I waited for an un-nervingly vocal piece of machinery to help itself to a pint of my vital fluids.

.... I just realised how manically deranged that last sentence makes me seem.

No, no, I have not offered myself up as a vending machine to an underground cult of post-graduate vampires trying to stave off paying back their neverending student loans by preying on hapless undergrads. Honest.

Actually, my surpringly-viscious internal contents will be going to aid patients, trainee doctors, and medical researchers, whom I've no doubt will take just as much delight in receiving this bag of crimson glory as the tragically-nonexistent fanged horrors would.

Now, here comes the question flashed up on irritatingly cheery website frontpages: Why?

Why? Because I'm horribly selfish. And I don't like it.

I am a happy, healthy, and wholly functional (supposedly) human being, who can do whatever she likes, almost whenever she likes. I've been gifted with a wealth of opportunities - so gifted, in fact, that I don't even know about most of them before I stub my toe on them at three o'clock in the morning.

Being healthy is not, objectively, a bad thing. Nor, for that matter, is thinking of oneself.
I know it's important that I keep on top of all my commitments, be they doing my reading, writing up my essays, meeting with my study groups, renting a house for next year, sorting out my new financially independent status or chasing emails in the hopes of landing a job so I don't starve in a cardboard box out the back of the local Lidl in three years time...

But sometimes, I don't want to think about myself. I don't want to be the centre of my own little universe. I want to do something that matters to someone else, and gain nothing more from it than knowing that it will make someone else's life a better place to be.

That, my friends, is why I sat there, on a rainy Monday afternoon, peering at the dauntingly high ceiling and shooting sympathetic looks at the slightly nervy looking lady in the bucket next door. I knew that at the end of 50 minutes of mild personal discomfort (rapidly followed by the fastest hall-to-bathroom dash the world had ever seen), someone, somewhere, was going to appreciate it.

The fact that I spent the rest of the day with a dead arm, sporting a plaster that made it look like I'd been attacked by an angry cheese grater was more than worth it, just for that.

On the off-chance any of my UK-based followers are interested, here's a link to the NHS Blood Donation site. It's super easy to sign up - I did it over the phone in under ten minutes - and, as if this post had not made that abundantly clear, it's a marvellous thing to do.

Oh, and just so you know, most of your visit will be spent drinking fruit squash and eating biscuits. Just in case you needed any more motivation to inspire your inner altruist.

.... Seriously. They had chocolate digestives and everything.

~ Charley R


  1. Oh gosh....I just....I just can't do this. I'm not opposed to blood, I'm opposed to PAIN. And it's terribly selfish. But I nearly died of panic just having some blood drawn to have blood tests with. I know it could save lives and stuff, but I'm just an O type blood or whatever so at least the world won't abysmally miss my blood. I'm still not sure they actually use it on dying people. I'm pretty extra sure it goes to vampires.

    1. O types are fairly universal - it's AB that's non-compatible with others outside their category.

      Also, it really isn't that painful! It stabs a wee bit when it goes in, but you hardly notice it after a second or two. You can have local anaesthetic if you want, I think, and the cuff around your upper arm helps numb things up a touch.

      Still, if you hate needles, that's fair enough. I'm capitalising on my lack of fear of them due to repeated stabbing xD

  2. I don't think they'd want my blood, given that it doesn't work properly anyway. Not sure an anaemic transfusion is much use to anyone -- and I kind of need all the red blood cells I've got. Don't have any to spare!