Hi all! It’s your friend Kelsey here. I have a fear of needles. I also have a need for funds. As of late, the latter has won out over the former, so guess what freaky thing I’m doing? Donating plasma!
Donating plasma is pretty dystopian. You get hooked up to a machine in a room full of lots of other people hooked up to machines and they suck out your blood, spin it around some, and return the red cells to you while keeping the white cells. There are needles and the phlebotomists wear plastic face masks and you have to read the risk chart every time so that you really are aware there could be an air bubble or something and you could die.
But it’s also something that saves lives and helps you earn a little bit of money and, for me, is aiding in conquering a huge fear. I’ve donated plasma about ten times now, and here are the pro tips I’ve come up with:
First, drink at least a liter of water before you go, but stop drinking it by the time you walk through the door of the facility. Not only will that allow you a little bit of time to process the water and pee before you get hooked up while also keeping you properly hydrated, but it will prevent any problematic vital read-outs (I once took a sip from my insulated bottle right before having my temperature taken and the cold water prevented the thermometer from being able to read my stats). Having to pee badly while literally not being able to escape where you’re sitting is the worst feeling in the world.
Note: if you’re donating later in the day, definitely have more than a liter of water before you go in.
Second, find something properly distracting. I’ve brought a book, I’ve watched the shows playing silently on the TVs at the donation center, I’ve scrolled aimlessly through instagram, I’ve answered emails… the best distraction I found was watching a video on YouTube of somebody playing a peaceful video game. Either way, find something that appeals to you that will occupy your mind for at least 45 minutes.
Third, SQUEEZY BALL. Upon your first visit to a plasma donation center, they should hook you up with a little “new donor” package, which should include a squeezy ball, which is your new best friend. I forgot my squeezy ball once and pumping became SO MUCH HARDER and the whole process took much longer. You’ll be needing to make a bunch of fists. Bring that squeezy ball.
Fourth, when having your vitals taken, have the attendant prick a finger on the opposite hand of the arm you’ll be using. It sucks to have a sore left hand and then have to pump it while donating from your left arm because you’re just shoving your poor pricked fingertip into the squeezy ball over and over again.
Fifth, take care of yourself! Drink plenty of water and eat something good when you’re done. Try to avoid coffee and alcohol before you head into the center, and have lots of protein and calories before you donate.
Also, there really aren’t any long-term studies about what frequent plasma donation does to your body so… yolo?
Who knows how long I’ll be able to keep this up… but there are some tips for anybody interested in the process.