Today, I re-saddled my horse Karma, took the reigns of Amazingness in my hands, and with a kick of my heels, I rode back into greatness.
I gave blood.
Sounds very little - but it genuinely saves lives. And I am very proud of that.
My donation was booked for 3pm. I arrived at 2:45pm, and went up to the desk to let them know I was there. The whole donation process is run and organised by a team of nurses - the same team do all the local donations I believe. I had to wait while the person in front of me got checked in, and then it was my turn. With a big smile I said to the nurse booking people in, "Hello! I've got a donation booked for 3pm"
Nothing. Not a smile, not even the hint of a grin.
I might as well have said "Ooh, you're a fat old bag with bingo wings and a moustache, aren't you?" judging by the look on her face. I'd obviously caught her on a bad day - the 17,520th bad day of her life.
She grumpily asked me to confirm my name and address, and then shoved a clipboard with a form and a pen on it, and grunted at me to fill it out. She really was rude - I'd hate to see her on a bad day!
I went and sat down and filled out the form. My favourite part of the form is always the part about sexual health - I always tick "no" to everything, because I'm going through a 'dry spell' (like the Gobi Desert). To be honest, chance would be a fine thing.
Opposite where I was sat, was the table where you sat and had tea or coffee and a biscuit or crisps after you have donated. You do that to increase the blood sugar in your system which helps you to recover from giving blood. While I was waiting to be called to donate, there suddenly was drama at the table!
A woman who was having a coffee after donating, suddenly felt unwell. Out of nowhere, three nurses swooped upon her like vultures on a dying Antelope. Within seconds, the woman had been laid on the floor, with her legs raised - and was being patronised heavily.
I've realised that all nurses are trained to patronise people, no matter what their age or illness. The way these nurses spoke to this woman - "Are you alright! You're not are you? I'll take that handbag from you - you come and lie down, there's a good girl" and the tone used would be the same if it had been a six year old child with a gash in its leg, or a ninety year old with Alzheimer's. It's as if the section of NHS manual that deals with talking to
Patients simply says "one tone of voice covers all - you know what's best for them"
After a few minutes laid on the floor being fanned with a clipboard and still being patronised, the woman was helped up and led away to lie on a gurney and be patronised privately behind a screen. Besides, it was becoming apparent that the sight of a woman laying on the floor in obvious distress was quite off-putting for people coming in to donate.
Soon enough, my name was called (incorrectly), and I was taken to have a sample of my blood tested for its iron levels, and to run through the questionnaire I had filled out. I was prepared for this, as I had declared that I was taking eye drops (for my eyes). I had to explain that the drops I was taking had been checked by NHS Blood and Donation, and I had been told that I could donate blood whilst taking them. The nurse asked me why I was taking them, and I said it was because I have high pressure in my eyes, which could lead to Glaucoma. But I added that I didn't actually have Glaucoma - to which the nurse replied "I can see that - you have lovely, clear eyes"
I thought, 'hello - I'm in here!'
Sadly, I wasn't. But I was given the all clear to donate. So another nurse came and took me to donate. There was an open area with Gurneys scattered around - some with people on, some without. It looked like one of those emergency triage centres you see in disaster movies.
I hopped on a Gurney - and found large parts of me over hanging the edges. The Gurneys used are made for people of around 5'6" height, so I had an extra foot dangling off the end. It's hard enough to look graceful on a Gurney as it is, let alone when you overhang it!
Nonetheless, I was there to save lives, so after getting hooked up, my Donation started.
And about 5 minutes later, I was done. Apparently I have excellent veins and great blood flow. This may be perfect for blood donation, but it's a bit worrying when you're as clumsy as I am. With veins and blood flow like this, if I did cut myself badly I could quite conceivably bleed to death before I manage to get to the phone to call for help.
Still, I have done my good deed.
My second Sign Language assessment takes place on Monday the 12th March. This time around, I have to have a two way conversation about a specific topic. I can choose the topic from these three options:
• The Weather
• Describing my House
• What I do in my spare time
I've chosen to describe my house. The reason I've chosen this as my topic is because it is the most difficult, and it will test my descriptive and signing skills. I think being out of my comfort zone is a good thing, and I will enjoy testing myself. I know enough of the other topics already, but the one I have chosen will require more research and practice. If things are too easy, I can get complacent.
My plan is to work out what I want to say, and then practice how to sign it. I will still be expected to ask at least three questions of my assessor, and show comprehension of what she is signing.
I'm looking forward to it!!