I guess it was Mardi Gras on Tuesday, aka “Fat Tuesday”. I celebrated in my own quiet way by renaming the holiday “Stupid Tuesday”. Here is what I did:
After work, I went and gave blood. This is something I very much enjoy and highly recommend to anyone who is able to do so. You get to lie on a bed and read for twenty minutes with no interruptions – they’ll even give you a BLANKET! – and they give you cookies afterwards. And everyone you encounter there will THANK YOU for enduring such hardship, and basically treat you like a rock star. It is the easiest way in the world to save a life. What’s not to like?
Well, if the preceding paragraph has persuaded you to join me in my phlebotomy-related philanthropy, I highly recommend that you take the story below as a great example of what NOT to do.
After donating, I went and ate a bunch of cookies, as is my wont. Then I had about 25 minutes until my belly dancing class, which was held at the same rec centre as the donor clinic. At this point, I could have done two intelligent things: I could have gone to the cafeteria and bought a bottle of water, and/or I could have eaten the leftover pizza I had with me in my lunch bag.
But I did neither of these things! Because I love the planet! And I was full of cookies and didn't feel the need for pizza! So instead I just sat and read my book. Then I went to belly dancing, where I made sure not to raise my arms too much. It was a fun class, and I had no problems. When class was over, I hurriedly changed back into my work clothes and rushed over to my church council meeting. I am the Vice-Chair of council and had been told the Chair was going to be away, so I was leading the meeting. I got there with a few minutes to spare, so I went upstairs to the kitchen to seek out a glass I could fill with water. There were only mugs. So I had a mug of water over the next 30 minutes or so.
I told everyone right off the bat that I had given blood earlier and might be a little light-headed. At 8:30 ... an hour into the meeting, and just as the heated debate was getting, um, heated ... I started to feel reeeeeeeally awful. I was very shaky, and couldn't focus very well. I think I was slurring my words a bit, and I was having a lot of difficulty FINDING the right words. It was a really uncomfortable way to feel, ESPECIALLY as one is trying to moderate an intense discussion.
I didn’t waste any energy trying to hide my wooziness, and in fact I apologized several times as I was sure I was not acting like myself. I kept hoping someone would offer to take over the meeting, but it didn't happen. As the discussion got more heated, the emotional reaction made things worse. My heart was absolutely racing. I started seeing spots, and more than once I wondered if I was going to vomit all over the table. (I didn’t, though.)
I didn't have the brain power to put it together then, but I realized later that I'd eaten nothing but sugar for over 8 hours. When the sugar crash happened, there was nothing to fall back on, and it about destroyed me. I honestly felt like I'd been drugged.
The meeting ended around 10 (Hallelujah!) and I asked another council member to follow me home as I couldn't figure out another way to feel somewhat safe - Chris couldn't leave Gwen to pick me up, and I needed my car the next day to go to work. As soon as I got in the car, I felt better ... I think because it was dark and there was so little stimulation. I got home fine, and told Chris what had happened, and he fed and watered me and put me to bed. He figured I was in a mild state of shock. We both agreed that I had been very, very stupid, but Chris was kind enough not to give me any “I-told-you-so”-related grief.
I was actually still kind of out of it yesterday – whenever I got the slightest bit emotional, my heart would start to race like I was having some kind of adrenaline reaction. I was also yawning all damn day.
So, two things to learn here: while cookies may fill you up, they do NOT substitute for an actual decent meal after having a pint of blood removed from your body. Also, ENOUGH WITH THE OVERSCHEDULING OMG SRSLY.
There are lots of people who, for perfectly legitimate reasons, cannot give blood. I can, and I think that it’s my responsibility to do so. But next time, I will head straight home for a healthy dinner and a night of putting my feet up. I hope you do, too!