Ok, I’ll admit it, I absolutely love donating blood. Not in a weird way, but in the “I am glad I can use my life to save lives” way. I came to terms at an early age that I would never have a career in the medical field, and I am ok with that…so, I do what I can, and give blood.
That being said, I’ve always failed in the pre-screening process somewhere along the way–leading to me getting the all to familiar “Rain Check” card which includes a list of foods I should add to my diet to increase my iron levels. I’ve come to term this rain check sheet the “fail sheet”. However, I have been committed to recovery (with a couple of bumps along the way), and thought I was healthy enough to try again to donate. Typically they check my temperature first. Followed by blood pressure and a finger prick test to check iron levels. They siphon the blood into a capillary tube, and drop it in a solution to test the iron levels. If the drop of blood fails to fall to the bottom of the solution in the allotted time, they spin your blood in a centrifuge to get a more accurate testing of the iron levels. This time, however, the nurse checked the iron first; completely throwing off the routine. The drop of blood went into the solution, fell slightly, then rose back up to the top while swirling around in the jar. I know the process all to well; I had just failed the iron test. The nurse walked away without saying a word, stuck the capillary in the centrifuge and pulled out the receipt-like report. Studying it with a frown, she turned back to where I was sitting. I knew it. I failed again.
She walked back to where I was sitting, fail sheet in hand. I looked up and said, “oh man, the fail sheet?” She kind of laughed and replied with what I could do to raise my iron levels. Then I was exiled to cookie and orange juice island to wait for my friend who was actually able to donated blood.
However, this failure didn’t affect me the way failure has in the past. Before, I would get discouraged, and go running back to ED behaviors to cope with my emotions and perceived failure; as failure in any way in my life seems unacceptable to me. This time, however, I knew that I was on my way to well, and my iron levels were just low this one time. It didn’t mean I am failing at recovery; it simply meant that yesterday my iron count was low. Recovery is showing me that health isn’t something to be feared. I now have tools and practices in place that I can draw upon in situations that would normally tempt me to reunite with ED behaviors. In fact, although I was telling myself lots of horrible things after I failed and wanted desperately to engage in ED behaviors, I went back to my office and had a normal lunch…and kept it down.
So although I couldn’t save someone else’s life by donating blood, I was able to practice some self care strategies to fight ED behaviors and work towards saving my own…because sometimes, you just have to take care of yourself because that’s all that really matters. After all, even the airlines tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs in case of emergency.