Blood Donations: Bloody Heavy Lifting

During the most recent of my 191 blood donations.
During the most recent of my 191 blood donations.

I gave blood today. That’s not exactly news. I’ve done it many times. In fact, counting today, I’ve donated blood 191 times. That’s whole blood, not plasma or platelets, which you can give more frequently. And, before you ask, here in Canada, blood donations are donations. I.e., they are all unpaid.  So, no, I don’t do it for the money. There is none.

Having said that, before I sit down for each donation, I look for coins that I hope fell into the folds of the donation bed (actually, a recliner chair). You never know. Money could slip out of previous donors’ pockets. To date, I haven’t earned any revenue this way. Although, I think I might have lost a few of my own quarters during my blood donations. I need to get deeper pockets.

I didn’t tell you the number of times I’ve donated blood to boast. It’s not really anything to boast about. I think everyone should do at least one good deed in his or her life.  I did once give directions to someone who was lost on the streets of Toronto. But, apart from that, blood donations are my only good deeds. (In moments of anger, I’ve also told a few other people where to go. But that’s something completely different.)

I mention my number of blood donations only to say that I’m not completely ignorant when it comes to the process of donating blood. I have experience.

True, I know absolutely nothing about hematology. But I am a pro at lying back and allowing someone to poke a needle into one of my veins. Or is it one of my arteries? I don’t know. I’m also not an expert on the cardiovascular system.

After giving blood so many times, I have a couple of suggestions; one for blood donors and one for Canadian Blood Services/Société canadienne du sang, the not-for-profit organization that runs the blood bank in all of Canada, except Québec. I don’t know why Québec goes it alone. Maybe Québécois have distinct blood.

Heavy Lifting After Blood Donations

Back home after my 191st blood donation.
Back home after my 191st blood donation.

Here’s my suggestion for Canadian Blood Services. Currently, it tells donors that, after donating, they shouldn’t do any strenuous exercise for eight hours or any heavy lifting for 24 hours. If Canadian Blood Services wants to encourage more blood donations, it should change this rule.

Men can donate whole blood once every 56 days. Women can donate only every 84 days. (I don’t think that changes for post-menopausal women. Don’t ask me why not. I’m also not an expert in pre- or post-menopausal women’s body functions. Or menopausal women’s body functions, for that matter. Or women in general. Sigh. 😔)

To encourage regular donations, the no-heavy-lifting rule should change to:

  • Men shouldn’t do any heavy lifting for at least eight weeks after donating.
  • Women should wait at least 12 weeks after their blood donations before doing any heavy lifting.

Think about it. With this simple rule change, people will rush to donate as soon as they’re eligible. It provides the perfect excuse to get out of so many things without people thinking you’re lazy and/or a selfish jerk for begging off. (I am lazy and a selfish jerk. I just don’t want people to think that about me.)

A Moving Experience (Or Lack Thereof)

“I’d love to help you move today, Fred, but I gave blood almost eight weeks go. So, I can’t. I am so sorry. Honest. Maybe another time, but not tomorrow. I’ll be donating blood again then.”

“Honey, I know we agreed that it is my job to take out the garbage, but I gave blood today. Those bags are heavy. You’re going to have to take out the trash for the next eight weeks. Sorry, dear.”

(Unfortunately, this garbage strategy wouldn’t work for me. I’m single. And it won’t work for people who aren’t single either if everyone in their household gives blood as often as they can. Sorry about that.)

“It’s been great getting together, Sue. And this restaurant is fabulous. Would you mind picking up the check? I gave blood a few weeks ago and I’m not supposed to do any heavy lifting.” (OK, this one is a bit of a stretch. And, at the time of writing, we’re in the midst of a pandemic lockdown. Restaurants can’t offer table-service dining here now. But, when the lockdown is over, it might work with some of your less-bright friends.)

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Drinking After Blood Donations

The suggestion for donors comes from another rule that Canadian Blood Services tells you after donating. They say, “for the next few days, remember to drink a lot.”

With this rule in mind, it’s important to ensure that, before you donate, you are already well stocked with gin and tonic, wine, beer, scotch, or whatever your favorite tipple may be. Either that or make sure you have someone who will pick some up for you after you donate. Remember, no heavy lifting.

How often do people with medical knowledge and experience advise you to get soused? It’s not often. So take advantage of it.

Then again, I may have misinterpreted their drinking recommendation. If so, please don’t tell me.

Give Blood. Save a Life.

Literally all kidding aside, the best reason to give blood if you are eligible is that people will die prematurely* if nobody donates blood. Not may die. Will die. And, if you don’t donate, then who?

* I had to put “prematurely” in there to head off the sticklers. Yes, yes. I know. Everybody dies eventually. But most of us would like to defer that for a while if medical science can cure what ails us.

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