Blood donation vans in a cobbled courtyard. A tentative opening of the door, this is my first time. I never used to be squeamish, "Where's Wally?" books did a fabulous job of taking the childhood mind off proceedings during vaccinations. Today the stomach flips a little, I still haven't forgotten fainting when blood was taken from my sister prior to her operation last summer, the swimming vision, the distant feeling. Still, I have been drinking water all morning to help the blood flow quicker, and have resolved to justnotlook. I pass the questionnaire, a drop of my blood sinks slowly through the blue solution indicating high enough haemoglobin levels. I lie on the plastic covered bed. They try unsuccessfully for a vein in my left arm, before moving to the right. I'm hooked up to the bag, and taped up, though I'm still not looking so am not quite clear on this. I stare out of the window whilst I clench and unclench my fist; blue sky, bare trees, a cloud that looks like a lion. I try not to focus on the strange sensation in my right arm. Not painful, just unknown. Try to remember to breathe, not let the swimming sensation creep up on me as it did last summer. And then, 3 minutes in, my blood stops flowing. Not entirely, but it slows down enough that it is not time efficient for them to keep me there, other donors are waiting. They unhook me. Well you managed about a third. Small veins they say, next time drink lots of water. I did I reply, lots. Must just be tiny veins then.
I know it can still be used, but a third of a pint just seems pathetic somehow. I drink my orange squash thoughtfully. I'll try again, but can't help wondering if I'm better suited to encouraging others to donate, strapping youths with bulging arms and prominent veins, then cooking them up an iron-rich dinner, emerald spinach, slabs of steak, to show my support.