On Friday I donated blood. Nearly a pint of my O+ is now lurking in the UK blood stocks should anyone need it.
It is taking me a while to process the enormity of achieving something I have always wanted to do; I was jolly nervous and it has taken a while to process. I had no immediate feeling of exhilarated “I’ve done it”. Rather I wanted to sleep, which is a fairly normal Abigail-reaction to trauma.
A few days later and it feels a huge achievement. For many years I was phobic of needles. I had problems walking into a friend’s bathroom where I knew her diabetic mother kept her hypodermics. I have needed up unconscious in hospital because I refused an injection to help me breathe. I made a decision not to travel anywhere where vaccinations were needed.
It was that final decision that broke the behaviour. My decision was not affecting me, but also my husband who wanted to travel. Heck, I wanted to travel. This was about 25 years ago and I realised that life was limited through my fear. Strangely the effect of the hospital episode on my parents had never occurred to me until Friday, post-blood donation. My Mum is owed a large apology! Once I had decided it could not go on, I sought counselling and hypnotherapy and have never avoided an injection since. Every annual flu vaccination has me marvelling at how not scared I am. Blood tests were not so easy though, hence the decades it has taken me to get to donating.
I cannot say I enjoyed donating blood. The length of time involved (about 10 minutes) with a needle in my arm made it much harder to control the demons. I did though. I felt anxious as one does doing something unknown. It felt a bit uncomfortable – my veins are narrow, the needle is not, I was very tense anyway. Afterwards I felt such a resounding sense of relief that I honestly couldn’t say if it was a reaction to the loss of blood or the fact I had done something I was nervous about and come through it.
But I did it. I will do it again. And I am really really proud of myself. Feel like I can achieve anything.
And if you are scared of needles and have read all the way through this – well done – no way I could have done that 25 years ago!