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Give blood, get cookies.

Update: Sept. 1, 2016 - This blood drive's over, but the Red Cross won't turn down any help you can offer. And the cookies are still chocolate chip.

Wasn’t planning on adding another post so quickly, but the American Red Cross has a blood shortage. If you’re on this side of the pond, please visit their website to find your nearest donation facility. You’ll find the locator in the blue box on the top right, and a list of requirements and restrictions for prospective donors. If you do decide to donate, they’ll e-mail a link to a questionnaire that saves about ten to fifteen minutes of time in the facility. (My appointment took a bit less than an hour from start to finish, but depending on what you’re donating - platelets vs. whole blood, for instance - and how much, it can take longer. By the way, image shown may not represent actual cookies given at your local facility, especially considering I found the photo on the sitebuilder.) Scared of needles? Let them know, and you risk the staff taping one of their own lab techs into a chair, then spinning her around until she’s screaming and dizzy. (Then again, sometimes they do the chair thing just for kicks.) Point is, don’t be afraid. They’ll do silly things to make you laugh, they’ll keep an eye on you throughout the process, they’ll bring cookies and water over if you feel unsteady on your feet. If it’s reassuring to ask for their most experienced lab tech at your arm, ask. The tech I was with started things out by asking for ID, and if I had a RapidPass instead of filling in a questionnaire. (The list of questions can be filled out ahead of time on the web - the timesaver I mentioned above - but it has to be done on the same day as the appointment.) She checked my blood pressure and temperature and performed a finger stick test, in case of fever or low blood iron. She double-checked my identity and recent travel history (the Red Cross has a Zika alert going, so that’s one example of why the travel history’s necessary), and ended with a few confirmation questions for me to fill out on my own. After that, the process took about fifteen minutes, including the amount of time the tech used to prepare the equipment and injection site. The actual blood drawing didn’t take much more than ten minutes for a bag. If it does, the staff will let you know that you need to drink more water. (Guess how I found that out.) I tried before to look away as the needle goes in, but oddly enough, I find it more reassuring to watch instead. It still scares me a bit, but seeing and knowing more about what’s going on reduces that fear. How do you deal with what scares you?

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