In September of this year, I donated blood for the first time, and it completely changed how I view my body, weight, and health.
My appointment was set for early afternoon, so I slept in that day. When I woke up, I drank plenty of water. I spent several days leading up to this appointment, drinking extra water. Everyone always talks about drinking enough water, but I didn’t know about eating enough.
I had a bowl of Greek yogurt with granola and dried cranberries, one of my favorite meals. I drove over to the blood donation center and checked in. They ran a series of quick tests to make sure I’m fit to donate, hemoglobin, and blood pressure and checking my veins. Then I was all set to begin.
I laid down on the large medical chair. A staff member, a phlebotomist, came up to me and started to prep my arm. She cleaned the skin, rubbed it with a scrub, then she put in the needle. She gave me a squishy stress toy to squeeze, ensuring my blood continues to flow through my arm.
We sat, and we chatted for a while. I discovered the phlebotomist makes resin casting and sells them on Instagram. We talked about her business the entire time, I learned so much about resin, and I enjoyed every moment.
What went wrong
In the past, I’ve had blood drawn at doctor’s offices before. I think most people have. I always felt the blood in arm becoming scarce. It would go a bit numb and tingly. But I didn’t feel that at all this time. I felt right as rain, nothing feeling off. So I decided to get up right away and go grab some water and chips and make my next appointment.
I made it back to reception and about halfway through booking my next appointment when I started to feel the lack of blood. All I remember was getting really hot, my head started spinning, and I knew I had to sit down.
I missed the chair a bit and passed out onto the hard floor of the reception office. The next thing I felt, someone was putting a cold cloth on my head and helping me onto a chair. It turns out, I just had a very delayed reaction to the blood loose.
Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself too badly—only a minor concussion. But my poor glasses couldn’t say the same thing. I fell face first, right onto them. They wouldn’t stay on my face because they were too bent. Later that afternoon, a lovely optometrist fixed them, so no lasting damage to me or my glasses.
I decided to continue scheduling my next appointment. The staff said as long as I eat more before future appointments, I’m safe to still donate.
Donating blood is something I am so happy to be able to do. I know a lot of people aren’t physically able to donate blood. My roommate can’t.
In the last few years, eating disorders have been prevalent in my family. My cousin and my sister, as well as myself. I had only minor eating disorders, nothing too serious, but food and I aren’t on the best of terms, and I’ve never had much body positivity before.
Growing up, I was always very small. Nothing was wrong with me, I was just small. So when puberty hit and I started gaining weight, it freaked me out. I always associated with being small with myself. I can still fit into size 0 skinny jeans, so I’m still rather small. But now my tummy is a little squishy and my thighs have some fat on them. Something I didn’t have much of growing up.
Once I got to college, I started to feel a bit more comfortable in my body and with my new fat. It helps keep me warmer, and I’m more comfortable to hug. I feel healthier than I ever really have in regards to my body fat.
While being healthy is a nice feeling, I still have a lot of difficulties accepting my changed body. I look at old photos of me and wish I still looked like that. I look at my smaller friends and get jealous of their bodies. Prioritizing beauty over health is something I find myself still doing, wishing to give up my better health for a skinnier body.
Up until recently, I never felt a need to be healthy. I never felt a need to keep my body fat and my healthier body. I can still do my school work and keep my job. What else do I need to do?
Donating helped create body positivity
After the first incident, whenever I go to donate blood, I always make sure I eat plenty for the days leading up to my appointment and throughout the day of the appointment. But I think about it more than just around the time of the appointment. Almost every day now, I think about my weight and my food intake, making sure I’m eating enough and that I weigh enough to continue to donate blood.
After my most recent appointment to donate blood, I realized I need to take care of my body and my health, not for myself, but for other people. I found a motivator to keep myself healthy and have body positivity.
People in the world need blood desperately. Their lives depend on it. If I can help them, I will do all I can. Now I need to make sure I keep my weight up for someone else. I’m taking care of my body so that my body can take care of someone else. Donating blood helped me to create a body positivity mindset by needing my body to help others.
Having some belly chub is good because it means I can help others. Being bigger than what I used to be is good because it means I can donate blood. I’m beginning to view my body as this wonderful thing supporting me and can support so many more people. My body is a treasure, one that’s constantly helping people. I’ve learned to be kinder to my body. I’ve learned to love my body.
Whether you’ve struggled with your body positivity, weight, or image or not, donating blood has many benefits. I know some people treat donation time as a day off, especially when donating platelets or plasma, both of which take longer to donate.
So if you’ve never donated blood before, I suggest you try it out! And if it’s been awhile since you last donated, try donating again. You have the potential to save someone’s life.
There are a lot of different organizations that run blood drives, but the Red Cross is the biggest blood donation organization. Check out their website if you’re thinking of donating!
Just remember to both drink and eat plenty before donating.