I watched with anticipation as my finger was pricked with a lancet. A drop of blood appeared and was wiped away. Repeat. The third was sucked into a test strip, and a cotton ball affixed to my finger with a band-aid.

Three drops was all the blood Canadian Blood Services would allow me to give them yesterday. My hemoglobin didn’t stop them.

My heart rate did.

[Note that’s 120.0, not 1200.]

For whatever reason, after my ten-minute “time-out”, my heart rate was 112. There are no third tries and I was deferred for the day because of 12 points. The day I wanted to be able to donate blood more than anything. I have been looking forward to this for a year—and with two heart rate readings from the blood pressure machine, I was told I wouldn’t be able to donate.
There were a lot of hard things about 2013, a lot of disappointing things. I had to cancel a trip to California last June because I was sick, and even that is, in retrospect, far less disappointing than this. I was sick and while not going and visiting ERs instead was super disappointing, I know I would have been okay on that trip.
This, though? This was crushing. Immediately, I was in tears; the screening woman didn’t know what to do with me, and wasn’t too good about being sympathetic (not that it would have really helped). I took my ID from her, and booked it across the gym for my bag and through the front door. I faked a smile and waved at the kids from work outside after lunch, and did the 40 minute walk home.
I know my heart rate runs a little high. Whether it’s a byproduct of my meds, or the hell of 2013, or both and other factors, I know that. Usually it’s not quite that high, so chalk it up to some excitement. Nobody has ever expressed real concern over my number even when I’ve asked. And while, yes, I know I can donate another day and that there are rules for a reason, it will never be that day again. The anticipation of yesterday carried me through the bulk of the past year, from the trivial where every time I contemplated getting a tattoo, I pushed the thoughts away because it would screw up my eligibility, to the more important because that thought gave surviving 2013 more meaning: to go full circle in that “everything’s a piece of everyone”.
The last thing I want right now is that all of me is still within me. Yet it is.
Part of me wanted to try again today. One year and one day after—the revival. The other part couldn’t resign to the fact that I could be tossed twice in two days. Those outcomes, like many of last years, are not in my control—and I can’t deal with that right now.
So I return to, resort to, quantifying myself. With a pulse oximeter purchased using my Shoppers Optimum points—essentially free, yet another byproduct of chronic disease. Because, as always, I want to know why. I want to grab those variables and eradicate them so that I don’t get let down by nothing but my own body again.
And, maybe I can’t change this outcome either.
But, damn it, maybe I can.

4 thoughts on “three drops.

  1. My heartrate runs high when I donate, too (which is funny because my resting heart rate is usually low-70s/high-60s). I’m afraid of needles, which makes it harder since every time I go to donate blood, I go to confront a fear. My fear probably explains the heart rate issues. Your excitement to pay it forward probably explains yours, to be honest.

    Anyway, here’s some tips if you want them for next time you try:

    *Practice meditation in the month leading up to it, and if you can, meditate for 5-10 minutes before you get tested. I know it sounds all woo-woo, but it works.
    *Don’t walk/run there – especially not uphill. Taxi, bus, or get a drive if possible. If you have to walk, see if you can rest there for 20 minutes or so before you get your heart rate taken.
    *If you have a huge backpack like me, try to leave it home if possible when you go to donate blood (this one is hard because they usually schedule my appointment right after school so I have to bring my backpack with me).
    *Avoid caffeine for a good 4-6 hours before giving blood. Likewise, avoid ventolin or anything that speeds your heart up if at all possible.
    *Eat before giving blood, but I find giving an hour to digest before I go helps me get in under the heart rate.
    *Avoid exercise for about 4 hours before your appointment.

    I’ve had good luck following those. I’m usually right on the border of too high (here the limit is 100bpm and last time I donated, I squeaked in at 99), but borderline under is still under. Helps that the nurses there know me and know my HR isn’t high out of health, it’s high out of fear/stress.

    1. Unfortunately there’s nothing on that list (aside from meditation) that I didn’t do. I bumped down my Zenhale, no Ventolin, the only place I walked over from was across the field, I never consume caffeine so the only thing I could do next is skip my Concerta, but I’m a bit doubtful on exact how much that jumps my heart rate. Hydration is probably the other problem, which I tried to address but maybe not well enough.
      As for meditation, I’ve tried getting into that but I just can’t seem to be adherent to that one, though I’ve tried multiple times.

  2. I don’t think they check heart rate here for blood donations. Just hemoglobin and blood pressure. I know how much symbolic dates and anniversaries mean to you. Here’s hoping you can donate again soon! *hugs*

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