For about twenty four to forty eight hours after I donate a pint of blood. I’m a zombie, almost literally. I crave flesh (not human, though, and preferably not raw). I will go to great lengths to obtain fluids if need be. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, often trying two or three times to get up from a couch or bed successfully, if not without a gray-out. I laze about and growl at people who ask more of me than I feel like doing at the time, reasonable or not, and I’m more often than not in a bit of a foul mood.
So, why do I do it? A lot of people have asked me this question.
Some of it lies in a sense of obligation. I’m the universal donor type, O-. We’re rare enough, and while blood typing is often attempted, if it cannot be done quickly enough, O- will do. However, for those not up on how blood types work, O- patients can receive safely only from O- donors. I don’t have the statistics on the proportions of donors versus recipients of each blood type, but the thought that I might need it and not have it is a scary enough prospect that I want to make sure nobody’s in that situation.
I’m no hero. I’m not particularly strong or fast or witty. I have my good days and my bad days. I’m not the first person most people would turn to in an emergency, partially because it’s a crapshoot whether or not I’d be level-headed enough to handle it. It’s because of this that I do what I do. Perhaps it’s a little egotistical to sit back and think “Yeah, I did my part” after giving blood, but it’s what I can do. (Confession: I wanted to be a veterinarian once upon a time, but blood makes me queasy. Don’t ask me why donating works for me in that case; I really don’t know.) I could probably just as easily volunteer at a soup kitchen, or work with kids in a hospital, but neither of those is a good fit for me.
Also, it’s a pretty good way to make sure I stay healthy. Colds and such aside, giving blood reminds me to drink lots of water, eat healthy (except for the cookies they give out at the blood center, naturally), and watch my weight in general. I probably could be getting more exercise, but that’s for another post.
Giving blood makes me feel like I’m helping out. It keeps me honest, and it keeps me healthy. In a funny sort of way, it makes me feel whole. That’s why I do it. If you want to volunteer, just consider it.