During this season of giving, I want to challenge you to give in even one more way - give your blood. 37% of Americans are eligible to give blood, but only 5% choose to do so. It's a very easy, mostly painless way to literally save another person's life and 1 pint of blood can help up to 3 different people.
I know, I know - you're squeamish. You don't like needles, you don't like hospitals, you don't like blood. But seriously, moms, don't we come in contact with a lot of stuff on a regular basis that makes us squeamish but we deal with it anyway? I am a major sissy when it comes to bodily fluids, and I can give blood.
It's totally safe. They only use the needles and other equipment once, so there's no chance of infection. You undergo a short medical screening to make sure donating blood won't be hazardous to your health. People who work at blood banks are usually phlebotomists who stick people all the time, so they are gentle and complications are rare. The worst complication is most likely fainting and that can usually be prevented by eating regular meals before you donate and hanging out for a few minutes after you give to get your sea legs back.
This is what will happen if you give blood: You'll answer some questions, fill out some paperwork, have your temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure checked. The phlebotomist will prick your finger and put a drop of your blood in a solution to see if it sinks quickly - if it does, you're not anemic and can give. If it floats (which usually happens to me), she'll put it in a centrifuge and then check it. Then, once you've been cleared, you'll sit in a reclining chair and the donation will begin. (I'm not going to go into great detail because of those of you who really are squeamish.) I'm not going to lie - it hurts to have a needle stuck in your arm. But it's temporary and not that bad. After a few minutes, she takes out the needle and holds pressure on your arm, then bandages it up. You drink a Coke, eat some cookies, get a free t-shirt, and go home. You might feel a little woozy, so keep activity light for the rest of the day and make sure you eat a good supper. I like to eat steak or another red meat to help replenish the iron I lost. Speaking of replenishing, your body starts to replenish your blood supply immediately. All fluids are replaced within 24 hours and red blood cells are back within 56 days. I've found that the more often I give (every 8 weeks - the limit), the less tired I feel afterward.
There's another reason why I give. My dad was religious about donating blood. His blood type was O-, which means he could give to anyone. He even had some special thing in his blood that allowed him to donate to fetuses. He gave gallons and gallons of blood throughout his life. So not only do I get a free Coke and t-shirt, I get to help people and honor my dad's memory.
This is my challenge to you this Christmas - give. Give money, give food, give toys, give clothes, and give away a part of yourself, a part you don't even really need - give a pint of blood. You never know when you might need someone else to give a pint to you.