Back in December 2013 I made some New Year’s resolutions as I do every year. Typically at the top of my list was to tone up, get fitter and trim down (I’m trying my best not to say “lose some weight” because it’s not all about how much you weigh, you know). At the time I was attending a gym and had been for about four months so that meant I was well on my way to make that happen. I also set myself the goal to get back into running. Whilst I did weights and the circuit equipment at that gym as well as doing the group boxing and cross-training classes, if I only had an hour to spare to visit the gym, my time was focused on the treadmill. I really wanted to get back into the running so I could look at down the world famous Sydney City to Surf and maybe a half marathon.
Sadly it didn’t happen. I quit the gym at the end of January because the only class I really loved doing was the group boxing, and that was only held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings; both the days that my wife works during the week, and therefore the days I had to take our son to school. I could have gone the other days, but the gym that my wife and I attended late 2013 was quite a drive away and she picked it based on a friend of hers going to that one at the time, but then her friend quit that gym so it was pointless for her and I to travel to one so far away when we have so many closer to home. After breaking three ribs while on my business trip to Germany and having pain for about two months after that, my motivation to do exercise fell by the wayside.
Lucky my wife is looking our for me though. She bought me a month’s unlimited group training session with a local personal trainer and I spent all of late November through to Christmas Eve attending his classes. And guess what? He has group boxing, so that sparked my interest to sign up for a longer term in 2015. But this post isn’t about exercise. It isn’t about running. It’s not about that old cliché of “must lose weight for my New Year’s resolution.” It’s about another resolution I set for myself in 2014, and it took right up until the very last day of the year for me to fulfil it.
I donated blood.
This was actually a carry over from my list of resolutions for 2013 that I made back in December 2012. I tried giving blood throughout 2013 but things didn’t go as planned.
Firstly, I had a minor operation on the 1st February and when I enlisted to donate during the summer holidays in January 2013, I was knocked back because the date I picked was too close to my operation and I was told that I might need to keep that “extra” blood for myself. The rules of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service states that you cannot give blood within 84 days before your operation. Okay then. I’ll schedule it for afterwards.
I booked my next appointment over the phone and received an email confirmation. I told them at the time that I was having and operation on the 1st February and they selected a new date for me. The date they picked was the 30th May which was one day short of 17 weeks, two days short of four months, and 118 days from my operation. On the day I was scheduled in I attended the blood donation centre and as it was my first time, I had to have the interview before hand. Everything was going as planned until the nurse discovered that I was booked in two days too early. Because my operation was to remove the remainder of a root of a tooth I had extracted six years earlier, they classed my operation as dental work which means that I had to wait a full four months. That meant that I needed to return on the Saturday two days later (which was booked out) or reschedule for another date afterwards.
At the time, I was booking through the mobile blood donation centre at our local shopping centre. It is only there for one week per month so rescheduling meant waiting for four weeks before trying again. I rescheduled for 27th June but when that date arrived, I conveniently got a cold or the flu, so I was unable to donate. Winter and spring 2013 weren’t good to me with what seemed like a perpetual bout of coughs and sneezes which prevented me from donating each time I rescheduled. And I think by the end of the cold and flu season that year, I pretty much gave up.
I waited until the summer to make an appointment again and included giving blood as my resolution for the coming year. That was 2014. Again I caught a cold in January 2014 and decided to put off the next appointment fearing that making these appointments was somehow jinxing me. I know that is stupid. I’m not a superstitious person by any means (well, not by any of traditional superstitions that is).
Come April and May 2014 and I headed for twelve days of touring around Germany on a coach tour followed by a week at a business conference in North West Germany. Having spent 20 days overseas it meant that on my return I was unable to donate for a few months once again. And once again the cold and flu season hit me for six so each appointment I made in the latter half of the year was rescheduled and eventually cancelled pending me felling one hundred percent.
In late November 2014 my wife bought me the month long group training gift certificate and I was on track for getting back into shape after having put on four kilograms from the start of the year. And once again, as my fitness improved I thought about getting into running and making the goal of running in the City to Surf another resolution for 2015. But somehow, giving blood had slipped to the back of my mind.
It wasn’t until a woman in a relatively new Facebook group I joined posted a photo of her trip to the blood donation centre that it sparked my memory. That was on the 23rd December. With only eight days until the end of 2014, I didn’t want that to be another broken resolution. So I hopped on the phone to see if the mobile clinic was in my area. Unfortunately it wasn’t, but I was told that the permanent collection centre that is about a 25 minute drive away had a few spots available before the end of the year. And the date I was given was 31st December. Yes, nothing like waiting until the last minute, or last day…
Having sat through the interview previously I was treated as a return donor right up until actually giving blood, and then I became a first time donor again.
It’s not as bad as you think it might be. In fact, except for the needle going in, there is no pain. But this is definitely not a case of “no pain, no gain” because giving blood means that you are helping to save a life, or two. And if you keep going back and donating some more, the amount of lives saved could be in the hundreds. I intend to be a regular at donating so y job now is to keep as healthy as possible so that cold and flu season doesn’t prevent me from giving. And the best thing about donating, besides the good feeling that you get for helping out your community, you also get a free feed afterwards.
I’m not going to go into detail about the experience, but if you want to find out more about giving blood, please visit the Australian Red Cross Blood Donation website. If you’re not in Australia, you can visit the American Red Cross Blood Donation website, or NHS Blood and Transplant website for British readers, or the Canadian Blood Services website. Of course, if you are not in any of those countries, simply use your favourite search engine to locate the blood donation service in your country.
One thing that I will add before finishing up; although the blood donor centre suggests avoiding alcohol for eight hours after giving blood, I would suggest that you don’t drink too much even after waiting that long. On the night of New Year’s Eve we attended a friend’s 40th birthday party and he was very forthcoming with shots of whisky. Add those to the beers I was already consuming, and possibly the reduction in blood, and that made for a fine New Year’s Day in the ironic sense of the word fine. While my wife and sons spent the day at the beach, I was holed up in bed all day with the hangover from Hell, the room spinning around and my guts trying to do their best to leave via the front door.
Drinking, never again*. Donating, yes, I will be there…
Have you given blood? Have you thought about it? Are you unable to give for any reason? Tell me your experience…
*I say that every year.