Today I fainted

It was not a bad thing, after all, as soon as I felt a little better I told my boss I would not be able to go to work. I told her I felt like crap, and it was true. I was nauseated, my body was burning and I couldn’t feel my hands, arms, feet and legs, but let’s step back a bit.

I woke up feeling great. I slept well after finishing chapter 2 of Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider and, as usual, I made coffee for both my girlfriend and I after feeding the cats and opening the bathroom faucet for David.

Along with my coffee I had also a reasonably sized piece of the baguette I’d made three days ago (tip for not buying bread again: freeze your own in aluminum foil once it cools down) and some slices of aged cheddar, which is more than what I usually have on weekdays. I took care of small stuff around the house and set on my journey while listening to the latest episode of No Such Thing as a Fish.

Even though I was supposed to get to work at 10:30 and it is conveniently located a 40-minute walk away from home, I left the house at 8:30. After 35 minutes of walk I crossed the street I work, not seeing any co-workers on the way. I walked for a few more blocks and arrived at my soon-to-be final destination for the morning and from where I wrote the first draft of this text.

I arrived 15 minutes in advance for my appointment — he third I had with Héma-Québec and maybe the seventh or eighth time I ever donated blood — and decided to take my chances. Luckily, there was someone who could see me right away and I felt I was off to a good start. The screening interview went smoothly and I sat down to start.

The donation itself is very straightforward. You sit down, they ask a couple of repeated questions, you look to the side while they stick you with a needle (yes, I admit it) and you wait for about 10 minutes as 500 ml of your blood is drawn and packed for processing and use in up to four of the people who need blood every 80 seconds (Quebec numbers) either because of an accident, surgery, or a disease or condition.

And for my other donations everything went just fine. Once I felt light-headed, but I laid down for a few minutes and was good to go. Today, however, things took a strange turn. All was good and I was checking the millilitre count and the clock, thinking that I’d probably be able to arrive at work earlier than expected, since at about the 5-minute mark I was hitting 460 ml. At the same moment I looked outside and my vision just got dark. I was dreaming, I don’t remember what or who was in that dream, but it felt good. That’s when I awoke hearing, “You fainted. Are you ok?”

I looked outside and my vision just got dark. I was dreaming, I don’t remember what or who was in that dream, but it felt good.

The other time I fainted in my life was just as weird, but the moment I woke up I was fine and ready to go for a breakfast. This time, however, my hands and feet were numb — a sensation that soon spread to the rest of my body. I felt warm and sweaty. I got nauseated.

Little by little the blood started spreading again through my body and the numb sensation was going away. My body was cooling down and the nausea would last for a couple of minutes every time I changed positions (each time with my head slightly higher than before).

I can only thank everyone at the blood drive for all their support and making sure all was good with me, even getting me a box of juice, cookies and some water. While I was chatting with one of them during my recovery, a guy donating next to me also fainted, but he was the lucky one, as he left the drive two minutes before me.

While I sat there texting my boss to explain what happened, playing a few rounds of Adventure Express and writing down part of this text, I asked myself, “Is it worth risking going over this again?”

And I only thought that if it could be that hard for someone having his blood drawn in a very controlled situation, I cannot even start imagining what it must be like for someone who’s lost a lot of blood at once in an accident. So, yes, after December 23rd I am ready to once again go down to a blood drive in Montreal, roll my sleeves and give away 500 ml I have to spare. I’ll just make sure I have a lumberjack breakfast this time.

To know more about blood donation, you can check your local blood supply organization/agency or hospital. You can also check some of the brochures with general information from Héma-Québec here.

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