Last year, I tried to give blood. I failed immediately. It turns out, if you want to give blood for the first time in Ireland, you can't have exams within a couple of weeks of the donation. They're afraid you might hit your head and not perform as well as you should.
So, that sucked.
Every other date that came up just didn't work out. Until Thursday. On Thursday, myself and my dad - a long time donor - went down to a nearby school. We filled in our paperwork, he went and donated, and I was asked my name and date of birth about eight times.
The thing about giving blood is, you forget for a second that they're going to stick a needle into you, or that they need to test for iron. So, they stab your finger. (Okay, it's a slight prick to draw an itsy-bitsy bit of blood.) Thankfully, my iron levels were good. I was good to go. I was sent to get a drink to stay hydrated - even after two giant glasses of water at dinner - and then it was to the bench.
And...stabbed. Again. With a needle. And this one was an actual needle, which I refused to look at on the off chance that I might feel uneasy all of a sudden. Not that I could ignore the fact that there was something sticking out of my arm. Or that the attending nurse placed the blood bag on my wrist, for some reason. It made me realise that blood is quite warm. I never really thought about it consciously.
I expected to feel a bit dizzy the longer the process went on, but I was fine. I was tired before going, and the bright lights overhead in the school's gym weren't helping, but I didn't feel weak or lightheaded.
That doesn't mean they let me sit up straight away, though. Because it was my first time, they had me lie down for a long time. The nurse even left. Eventually, another member of staff told me to sit up, and when I didn't feel weak, I was allowed to get up and walk away.
All in all, it was a fairly easy process. I didn't bruise. I wasn't sore (except when the plaster tugged at my skin - that was annoying!) I was fine. And I'd given blood for the first time. After almost a year since trying and failing once, I was able to do something that I saw as being important.
Below, I'll leave some links for blood donation sites. It's a relatively painless process, and if your blood is suitable, you could help save a live.