Donating blood is one of those things that I don’t particularly enjoy, but do think is important: since I’m lucky enough to be a physically fit, able, and healthy human being with ample ability to replenish my own blood supply, it seems only right that I share. No, I don’t go every 8 weeks the way a truly respectable person would, but I do try to go a few times a year, often with James for moral support (don’t tell him though: he thinks I never need moral support ever;)
If I stop to think about it too much or if I wait too long between donations, giving blood kind of freaks me out. Like many things in life that are not inherently pleasant, it has a tendency to seem worse and worse the further removed I am and the more I dwell on it. I’d like to say this isn’t the case, but I actually don’t like the idea of a large needle being shoved into my vein and then held there for several minutes while a bag of my own blood collects underneath me. Nor do I relish the idea that I might be weaker afterward, lightheaded or less able to exercise.
But in practice, it’s always just fine. Heck, it’s better than just fine. It makes me feel great, like I’m doing one more small bit to help. I always feel totally normal; I’ve never once been unable, post-donation, to do something I’d usually do; once I go I remember that it’s a totally painless endeavor and I’m actually not squeamish about needles, I just build it up in my head too much because it seems like something that I shouldn’t like.
The more frequently I go, the less opportunity I have to forget how easy it is or to start freaking myself out again. Which is why, like many potentially scary things in life, I think it’s probably good practice to just do it and not give myself too much of a chance to start believing it’s scary.
The point of all that, though, is to say that it’s not a big deal. Which is why I always treat it like a normal life thing — which is to say, like basically everything else I do in this life, something I will bike to and away from.
Mostly, I don’t even think about it, until, like yesterday, someone looks at me as though I’m crazy and says “you’re biking after you donate blood?”
Yes, yes, I am. And chances are that if you’re capable of blood donation and even remotely fit (by which I mean, if during normal circumstances you could bike to and home from wherever it is you’re donating), you could too. You can walk after you donate blood, right? And cook dinner and hug your spouse and water your garden and vacuum your rug? No reason biking can’t happen too.
While we’re speaking of normal life things you could do via bike and while I’m feeling slightly rambunctious and irreverent, you might also enjoy these totally random things that sometimes raise eyebrows but are totally feasible with only a bicycle (not a complete list:)
- Bike to a run. I like to run at Mt. Tabor, but I don’t like to run to Mt. Tabor. Solution? Bike to the park, and then run. I’m not sure why this always amazes people, since it takes all of like 9 minutes to bike there (not super strenuous, c’mon). But for some reason, getting off your bike and starting to run strikes many people as supremely badass.
- Biking to Tryon Creek, about a 45 minute ride and quite a hill, is a more committing endeavor, but still. It’s possible. Enjoyable, even, if you have the time.
- Bike to pick up a Christmas tree. Or anything else that’s large. No, I’ve actually never done the Christmas tree thing, mostly because I’m a giant grinch and don’t really get into having a tree cut down for me that I relocate to my house and then drag out to the curb ingloriously a few weeks later. But for fun ideas about how to do it, look here and here (and basically anywhere on the internet:)
- Actually, the chance to bring it home on my bike is probably one of the biggest reasons I would ever consider buying a real Christmas tree, ever. Kind of like how I would only really consider having kids so as to prove to myself that I could do it without a car. Which, as we know, is not a good reason to have kids;)
- Bike to somewhere where you need to look fancy. Two options: change when you get there (almost always what I do), or just get all fancy first and bike slowly (this works better if it’s not raining. Otherwise see option 1). I’m not sure what the big to-do about helmet hair is, but I promise you it’s mostly in your own head.
- And, basically anything else you already do in your normal life.
I swear, it’s not groundbreaking to do things on a bicycle. Including donating blood.