FIRST BLOOD (23/07/2015)
I don’t blog very often. I can’t be bothered, basically – I can usually say what I want on Twitter and I’ve been lucky enough over the last year or so to have found a home for what I write in, to be frank, places that pay me. Plus, I’m never really going to top that post about why good pubs have coathooks along the bar, so why try?
People who blog well (yes they exist, almost exclusively outside the area of football tactics geeks) have told me to write about things that I’m passionate about, so in this very rare post I’ll talk about blood. I’ve been giving blood since late 2009, first at Norfolk House in central Manchester, then at Bristol Zoo in Clifton, then at Southmead Hospital, which is where it’s all got a bit more serious – I started donating platelets in October 2014.
Firstly, the blood side, or ‘whole blood’ as it’s known – if you have the time, the health and the means to do so, I’d urge you to do it. You can do it in a lunch hour, give or take a few minutes. The needle itself is only in for 20 minutes or so and you can only go every four months, so it’s nothing really. As long as you’re OK with injections, there’s nothing to it. You also get crisps and a brew afterwards.
I’d seen the platelets notices a few times before getting a letter from the blood service asking if I’d consider it. Basically, the NHS always needs whole blood, and it always needs platelets. These are small cells that work with plasma in the clotting process, preventing bleeding. People who need platelets are those undergoing chemo for cancer or leukaemia, accident victims with life-threatening bleeding, and those with severe blood disorders.
True, it’s more of an imposition than whole blood. You get hooked up to a machine that draws blood out and spins it all around, withdrawing the cells it needs, before returning the rest of the blood, a process that repeats itself for however long it takes (it depends on your height, weight, age and stuff – usually around 70 minutes in my case). Because most of your blood is returned, you can do it much more often than whole blood, as frequently as once a week if you have time.
The whole process is no more or less painful than whole blood, you’re just there for longer. I always get through a chunk of a book, but I also see people in there watching videos, chatting on the phone, all sorts. And here’s the kicker – you get drinks and biscuits BROUGHT TO YOU throughout. King for a day, eh?
Seriously though, there’s a sense of community about it all – I saw a bloke presenting flowers to the nurses on his 100th donation. I can see why – on the face of it, it’s you who’s providing something, but doing it does bring home to you that you have the good fortune to be healthy.
I was prompted to write this by a Facebook post from a friend who’s turning 40. She has leukaemia and didn’t expect to get this far. She needs loads of blood, loads of platelets. Lots of people are in the same boat. If you’ve got the time and the health to donate, and the means to get to a centre, please give it a go.
And I promise I’ll never turn to blogging about football tactics.