I donated about a pint of whole blood yesterday. Seeing the sticker on my arm, reminded me of the instructions I received to rest and care for myself for the remainder of the day. The other reminder: there was a tiny, sweet woman at the registration desk who turned into the boss by the time I was ready to leave. "No, eat first!" she boomed as her outstretched hand and finger pointed me to the food line. I had the feeling that she would have tackled me if I took another step toward the door so I got a turkey wrap, some grapes and half a chocolate muffin and sat down to eat.
As I tried to leave the second time, the woman was sweet and tiny again and said, "Thank you for coming" with a big smile. Outside, it was a gorgeous day in Kona with a beautiful view of Kailua Bay from the Mormon temple, site of the day's blood drive.
Even the horses in the neighboring ranch property were relaxing. Sweet. So I drove home, did an hour of restorative yoga and later made myself a pot of chicken soup. I called it an early day and was in bed by 9 pm. I even put off writing this post.
I don't need to look too far for lessons on self care. Even when I think I'm helping others, I seem to get it right back. The first time I tried to give blood back in 1999 (the Blood Bank of Hawaii lets me look online at my history) I thought I was offering clean, drug-free, healthy blood but I was denied. My iron count was too low. I went straight to my internist and found that it was seriously low so I made it a point to eat more iron rich foods and took an iron supplement for a short time. I haven't had any problems with anemia since and look upon my first donation attempt as having saved me from greater health issues.
According to the Blood Bank's website, 60% of Hawaii's people will need blood at some point in their lives. Only 2% donate. It takes 48 hours for donated blood to be processed and ready for use, after which it can be stored, refrigerated, for up to 42 days. Hawaii requires at least 200 pints to be donated daily just for regular use. I can see a lot of reasons why that rate of donation is so low when I look at the eligibility requirements, the schedule for outer island blood drives, and consider individual work and travel schedules. It's not that easy to make a donation.
I wasn't able to donate on two other occasions before I became familiar with all of the requirements. Once when I was just getting over a cold and another time when I'd been off antibiotics for only a week. I am in awe of the folks who manage to consistently show up, able to donate.
This is a perfect example of caring for myself first, if I expect to be of any help. I'm going to hold that image in my mind of the tiny, sweet woman ordering me to eat and I will, Be Nice to Me.