That Was Fun

A few months ago some folks came to class, well not folks, EMT’s and asked the students to sign up for their blood drive. TSM can’t because of some funky stuff he contracted in Somali, but I signed up.

Last night was the night. I have never donated blood, but needles do not bother me nor does blood. I am healthy and so I went without much thought. When I got there several of my fellow EMT students were there and some were quite nervous(especially the boys), so I did my “You will be fine” “Don’t worry” “It’s not a big deal” pep talk thing I do and then went off to donate.

I sat in the chair and they plugged me in. No biggie. Everything was smooth sailing. I was chit chatting with friends and listening to music when all of a sudden things got fun.

And by fun, I mean not fun.

The man helping me was taking the very last vial of blood when I felt the tiniest bit of nausea.  I said in my head, “Wow, I fell, nau…” Before I could finish the thought I noticed the ladies in front of were not only blurry, but also I could not define there shape. I looked at the man and said, I think I might have a problem. By the time I got that out, I was extremely hot, sweating profusely and my hands and feet were tingling, but not like a normal tingle. It felt like I was holding a jackhammer. I am kind of out of it at this point, but I feel someone lean back my chair and another start to fan me. The other man is stopping the blood. Someone asks me if I am alright which I hear, but can’t answer. In my head I was thinking, I don’t know am I. He keeps keeps asking me to cough, hold my breath, the breath.

Eventually, maybe 20 minutes later, I start to come back around. I am still dizzy, but can see. My hands are still tingling, but no where near what they were. I am now freezing and wondering why my back was wet. Apparently at some point they put ice packs on me. I sit there for another 15 minutes are so and decide I was fine.

My plan was to drive home, but when I went to leave a paramedic who doesn’t me and didn’t know what happened said, where are you going? I said home and she said, “No, you are as white as a ghost.” “Did you give blood?”  I said yes and she said sit. I ate some pretzels,  a doughnut(yuck) and some 7-up. My hands remained cold and white for about another hour, but by about 8pm I felt pretty much fine except for being very tired. This morning I felt dandy!

I have no clue why on earth that happened. I ate a good breakfast and lunch plus I had lots of liquid. My blood pressure was 120/80(a little high for me), pulse was 68, temp was 97.something and my iron was 15.

I was very calm which again I am not sure is a good thing because in a crisis I tend to be very, very calm but I don’t do anything. Not that there was anything for me to do, but still.

I am not entirely sure I am up for something that sporty again and the Red Cross probably isn’t gonna ask AGirl to be there next spoke person.

43 thoughts on “That Was Fun

  1. Donating blood is donating part of an organ in your body. It it a very big deal. Even the healthiest of people (who is that ) should limit donations to once a year. Sounds like an autonomic nervous system overload response. Rest and hydrate. TY

  2. The same thing happened to me except I made it out to the lobby before I passed out. I had to have someone else drive me home and for about a week afterwards, I craved steak at every meal.

  3. I have donated several times and the last time I got very dizzy. There was a drive at my job yesterday and I had planned to donate but was feeling bad with allergies and knew they would not let me so I didn’t even try. They make it sound really easy but for some people it is not. Be careful and have someone go with you if you ever want to try it again.

  4. After giving blood several times I had pretty much the same thing happen to me many years ago. Haven’t given blood since and after some of the HazMat and such exposures I’ve had wouldn’t now.

  5. What’s your body weight? (You don’t have to answer. LOL)

    Red Cross generally doesn’t allow donations from people under a certain weight – I think 105 lbs., but I’m not sure off-hand. Under or near that threshold (which, incidentally, doesn’t factor in height-vs-weight ratios, body composition, or other factors that affect “weight”), a full donation can be risky for some people.

  6. Oh man!! It’s always something with you, isn’t it? 🙂 Rest and drink plenty of liquids. You’ll be okay.

    Take care!!!

  7. AGirl,

    Oh man, I’m sorry to hear this has happened to you. I understand people will have certain symptoms when giving blood and getting up to early will cause you to pass out. They should of had OJ and cookie after giving if you were having this kind of reaction. If you hands are still tingly, I would see my doctor. Even eatting and drinking to much will cause problems before giving blood.

    • Yeah, I have heard that too. I had not yet stood up. It happened right at the end while he was taking the last vial. Goofy.

  8. I had the same experience many times in my youth, indeed, every time I had a single vial pulled for testing. The sensation and symptoms were identical to a vasovagal response I had years later, post vasectomy when the pain killers wore off before I made it home. I am no doctor, but would hazard to guess that your experience was also a vasovagal episode. I now donate platelets and whole blood regularly for the kids at Driscoll Chrildren’s Hospital with nary a side effect. The big difference is that I consume juice, a cookie and an electrolyte drink like Gatoraide before donating so that my blood sugar does not plummet. during the draw.

    • I drank 2 gatoraides, some juice and a bottle of water before. I was well hydrated and while I did not eat a cookie I had plenty to eat. It’s odd to me. I understand the physiology and why sometimes it happens, but i don’t understand why it would happen to me.

  9. Hi, Thanks for sharing your stories.

    I visit your blog on occasion and you bring out great stuff, often enough to come back. lol

    I’ll be posting anonymously today as I don’t want to compromise my PerSec; I comment on many blogs using my handle and I don’t want my credentials known. I hope you understand…

    Now, with that out of the way, I realize you didn’t post this looking for medical advice and, that the internet cannot be trusted so take what I’m going to offer with a grain of salt. I could be a psycho. I actually will be using my VPN to post this anonymously through a server in Prog or Spain, or Brazil! Big Sis is always listening, ya know… Paranoid much? You bet…

    I should note that I perceive you’re probably a tad concerned about why this occurred. To that end, I will provide my Hypothesis.

    You DFO’d ( An Oakland California street term for “Done Fell Out”, You’d have to work the streets of Oakland to know its permanency)

    My credentials are that I am a retired 28 yr. career Paramedic and EMT Basic two years prior to that. I’ve worked ambulances in ten counties the whole time in addition to being a ten year Fire Medic, Hospital ER’s and labs, Dialysis Centers and Blood Banks, all concurrently. 24 hour shifts allow a lot of time to work elsewhere when the wages were low and I wasn’t chasing skirts. lol

    I don’t have the facts of your situation so I’ll assume a few things. I assume that you are probably of petite stature but that is only one factor. I’ve seen this occur a few times in my travels through the world of medicine, even on folks of large stature. Never the less, S it happens sometimes. Your situation is, while not daily, been seen routinely in mine eyes.

    If I had to guess on a differential diagnosis, I would say, Vaso-Vagal episode. I’ve seen this occur from psychosomatic shock, nuerogenic shock, mild hypovolemic shock and just shock in general that really couldn’t be pinned on a particular syndrome. S it happens comes into play here. My analysis is one that I’ll fell back on during dialysis of new patients.

    Your system could not handle with the speed necessary to adjust to your blood loss. This is not a bad thing. I’ve seen it in both blood donors and Dialysis patients. To counter this, we put a restrictor on the line to adjust the rate of blood flow through the line. Quite easy to do when we KNOW that certain patients may be susceptible to this syndrome. Since this was your first time donating, it is really not a difficult conclusion to come to.

    The problem with this is that if the flow is too slow, the line will become clogged by the action of clotting platelets. In Dialysis, we solve the problem with medicine but in Blood donations, we couldn’t do so due to the fact that the blood is actually broken up into packed cells, serum and platelets. Additionally, whole blood is used. One cannot give a Trauma Patient blood that has thinners in it now can one? They would continue to bleed out.

    I’m sure the staff asked you is you’ve had donation problems before. Tell them your story and they will draw more slowly from you. Instead of 15-20 min, it may take an hour. They also may turn you away if your blood is a common type. I can’t say.

    Next, your blood pressure cited was probably taken in the Trendelenburg fashion. Toes up, Head down in the recliner. An orthostatic comparison (sitting up vs Toes up) may have shown a reading in the 80/40 or below and Pulse of 130 or more, I know, that is how we used to check for the syndromes of shock. When peeps pass out sitting up, we don’t generally try it again as they tend to puke all over the place.

    Anyway, this prose is getting long. Suffice to say, you may want to try donating again, if you’re up to it, it is a GREAT thing to do and I commend you for doing so BUT, tell them, when they ask if you’ve had problems donating before, what occurred. They either adjust or deny you.

    Anyway, thanks for posting and do not “Overly” concern yourself with this ending. Happens sometimes, K?

    I’ve seen thousands saved from donated blood and I’ve seen people die waiting on blood we were out of, including kids. Donate if you can.

    Note: I never gave politics a thought until my retirement. I realized I am a rabid Independent Conservative when I retired. Funny eh? 4 Years USMC, Medic treating the masses for the rest, most often the takers and I find myself despising them today. Times change baby, times change…

    K, Sarah, Sarah

    Ahh, posted from a server in Moscow. Seems appropriate as they are free’er than us in the USSA. hahaha


  10. It takes 45 minutes and somebody jumping on me to get half a pint out. I always hoped if I ever got shot, I’d bleed slow. I’ve had so many horrible Army medics (usually new privates) screw up getting blood out of me, so I drink a gallon of fluids before and warn them: “Get the vein the first time, Or I will show you how many ways I can inflict pain.”

  11. I have veins the blood bank loved. Hit 100 donations when I was 40, and finally stopped at about 145.

    My wife on the other hand, has veins that will collapse if a needle gets near them. On those rare occasions when she has to give a sample, they have to use an infant needle. Also, they have to lay her down first. She’s not squeamish or afraid of the needle, but her body has an involuntary response to getting poked. She gets poked, she passes out.

    Give it another try if you want to, and have them take it slowly as advised above. If it happens again, then you’ll probably need to accept that your body is overriding you and you’re just one of those who they’re never going to be able to get blood from.

    • I have great veins! Phlebotomist love me. One can pretty much just wave the needle over my arm and the blood comes out.

      Congrats on the so many successful donations.

  12. Awww Man! You poor thing! Sounds like a good ol’ fashion vasovagal response. I’ve had a few pt’s crap out on me in the middle of a blood draw or other needle, pointy object, and blood involved procedure. It happens….ain’t no shame in that game. Its the same response that children have when you frighten them and the wet themselves…. it manifests differently from children to adults, and from person to person. At least you know now that the blood donatin’ bidness ain’t for you! anyway xoxo
    Your former semi retired Glock Guy

    • It was not from a shiny object or blood. I get stuck all the time and have had a fair amount of blood drawn at one time. not that much,but several vials. never an issue. I have watched a cochlear implant surgery, watched my husband have a cyst removed, had my kids bleed profusely, rode the ambulance, etc, etc. Blood and needles do not bother me in the least. I was perfectly fine the whole time. When it happened I was laughing and chatting. Not bothered one bit. I am not sure what it was from, but it was not because I was queasy over blood and or needles.

      Nice to have you back though:) xo

  13. I’ve been giving every 60 days (58 day min between donations) and am over the 1 gallon club. But my wife is smaller and has lower BP too. She can have issues as well, but they draw hers slower, as mentioned above. So have them go a bit slower, and be sure to have a juice and/or cookies before they start, and if you’re good, maybe they’ll let you have some after.

    Just don’t try to work out at the gym afterwards. THAT, will KICK your butt! You don’t need to ask how I know. LOL

    • Good advice. Yes, if I do give again, I am sure I will not be working out afterwards.

      Good for you for donating!!

  14. I can’t donate blood, but this happens to me every single time I have to have it drawn for testing. And my veins are nearly invisible and they roll. All in all, bad experience for the phlebotomist and me too.
    Definitely use it as an excuse to have steak.

  15. I found your site about 2 weeks ago now I’ve read every post. You have excellent communication skills, ma’am. I really enjoy the reading.
    Concerning this post though, I have the same problem. I’m about 6’1″ & 210 lbs. of retired Marine, and I DFO (dun fell out) every time I give blood. Blood and needles don’t bother me in the least, I’m good giving samples for bloodwork, but I’ll be darned if ever time I get in front of a bunch of people to be a “good citizen” and give blood I fall out right before the bag gets full. My BP runs a little on the high side of perfect, and my personal diagnosis is that my engine is used to running at a certain pressure in the pan. Take a pint or two out of that pan and the pressure drops…then I drop. I’ve tried the eating thing, and drinking thing, but ever time *plunck!* haha It’s funny cause every time I say, “Yep here I go.” then I go. Then I wake up about 2 minutes later with my feet in the air.
    In other words, happens to the best of us. 😉
    Tell your hubby Semper Fi from a good ol’ Alabama Marine.

  16. The same thing happened to my husband, only he was out for about a minute. He managed to kick the “nurse” in the face as he passed out, so he got some revenge I guess (joking). Either way he too woke up cold and disoriented. I won’t give blood now, because I’m scared of needles & passing out.

  17. Oh! Sorry to hear that. If you were well hydrated and fed and feeling fine, I would go see a doctor just to make sure this hasn’t uncovered something more serious.

    I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve given blood and this has never happened to me nor have I ever seen it happen. Because I never contracted some extremely common pathogen, my blood is especially desirable for giving to new borns and babies, so the Red Cross is knocking down my door every 56 days. And apparently I bleed well. 🙂 Which reminds me…

    • Andy, good thinking, but I did just have a very thorough physical about a month ago. I think I am fine.

      So glad that you have had so many successful donations!!

  18. I had a very similar thing happen to me the third time I donated. Never before or after, and until I was stationed overseas, was a regular donor (a pint short of my 2-gallon pin).

  19. Don’t be too quick to give it up with only one bad experience.

    I donated 15+ times before the Red Cross told me my Blood Type (AB+) wasn’t really useful for them. Never had a problem. The first time I donated at work, a big burly airframe mechanic on the next cot told me he’d donated over a gallon and never had a bad experience. In fact he crowed over how much faster his blood was filling the bag. After being unhooked, he stood up, wished me well, and then — he went paper white, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he rode the 95 year old, 75 pound, squealing volunteer nurse to the ground.

    All the nurses said a bad experience can just happen and never be repeated again.

    Hey, you’ve got a great story!

  20. My Dad was a lab tech in the Air Force back in the day, so anytime we’d need vaccinations (overseas stations) or bloodwork, he’d just bring the vials and needles home and do it at the kitchen table. My older sister and younger brother would whimper and fuss all the way through….I’d just sit so I could see the TV, or watch what he was doing. Never bothered me. Fast-forward to my Navy days, during bootcamp they had to draw 6 massively huge vials from me due to my rating (nuclear power, apparently, doesn’t like to have druggies). The tech told me to look away, I replied “why?” And then proceeded to chitchat with him the entire time. Two stations over, a prospective SEAL passed out after the first standard-sized vial.

    Last time we gave blood, after Katrina, I did the questionnaire and was led back to the semi-comfortable bed in the bloodmobile, where they gave me a rubber ball and told me to count to a certain number and squeeze. I told them they’d probably need to check on me every so often to make sure I was still squeezing. The nurse got a knowing look in her eye and started in on the “if you feel light-headed” (as she glanced over across the aisle at a guy groaning on another bed, damp towel across his eyes)….I listened politely, then pulled a book out of one of the pockets in my cargo pants and said “thanks, but this is a good book, so I might forget to squeeze or something.” LOL I don’t think the nurse had ever seen anyone read while giving blood. They kept popping up and staring wide-eyed at me. Afterwards, I walked out under my own power. They were set up in a local restaurant’s parking lot, and the restaurant was giving out free banana pudding to those who sported the blood-donor badge (mine was a Hello Kitty band aid). Good stuff!

    My problem is, I’m usually the guy below the ground on the communications tree, so I find out about the bloodmobiles as they’re pulling away at the end of the day, dangit.

  21. Neurocardiogenic syncope I’d say. The stressing experience of phlebotomy can be a trigger alone, outside of even the blood loss. It’s not uncommon by any means, but no less scary.

    Glad you are OK, and hope you feel better today. I’m donating tomorrow, but I do it every 4 months since I’m the “universal donor” which they get short on.

    Be safe. I am sending you a new gluten/nut/dairy free recipe for a dip (with bacon!) that I made as an experiment and had the bowl cleaned out from under me. It will be there shortly in email.

  22. Very possible that you have Neurocardiogenic syncope. I have that and have donated several times (universal donor) until my heart disease made me ineligible. I always have to lie down whenever a needle goes in me, but as long as I’m lying down, I’m fine. Just don’t ask me to think about what’s happening to me. Don’t get up too quickly, and if you start to feel abnormal (sweaty, ears ringing, etc.) lie back down. Vomiting can happen with NCGS, but fainting is the usual response.
    However, I will say that your experience reminds me more of my husband. He doesn’t have a rare blood type and has difficult veins to stick. But one time, we went in together and both donated. I was fine afterwards, but he was wiped out. This is a man who could watch a live C-section in person without a problem, while I couldn’t even watch a Lamaze video.
    Main thing is if you don’t feel okay, lie down until you do. Get your head level with your heart. Take it from someone who has “been there, done that” that even lying voluntarily on a hard floor is less embarrassing and safer, than to faint and fall down. Nothing like coming to with a circle of people standing around you and staring.

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