Hockey fan + blood drive (13.11.2017)
Never would have thought that a medical appointment would be a good thing. Today’s was! ‘-)
I had a rare disease-related appointment this morning, in the downtown (city centre) area, about a 20- to 45-minute drive from my office; depending on the traffic. It was just a follow-up, with no procedures or testing.
From a patient perspective, a ‘good’ visit. No delays or waiting. No blood draws, no “this will be very uncomfortable” or “bleep”-ingly painful moments.
To top that off, today was also the annual blood drive organized in part by the Canadiens de Montréal NHL hockey team. My team! I didn’t have any meetings at work later that morning, so took an early lunch break to stop in and give blood right after my medical appointment.
I’m a regular blood donor, so had already confirmed that I could still donate blood – despite all the medications that I’ve been prescribed for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS); also called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).
At least being able to give blood is something that this nasty disease hasn’t stolen from me! My field is bioethics (also called healthcare ethics, or medical ethics), and I’ve always felt that it’s important for folks working in this field – as well as in medicine, and other healthcare fields – to donate blood.
Although I’ve given blood 49 times now, I’d never been to one of the Canadiens’ blood drives; I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. It was definitely the best blood drive I’ve ever attended, and I’ll be trying to go to this one every year now! Maybe I can schedule my downtown medical appointments on the same day as this event each year ‘-)
Everyone who checked in to the blood drive was given a bottle of water, and some veggie crackers; as a snack before donating blood. At another table they were giving out parking passes to anyone who’d parked at the Canadiens’ building. I had, so saved $13.50 ‘-)
Each donor also received a small re-useable Habs shopping bag, with a couple of Canadiens logo items; a pen and a stress ball. There was also a nice sports-themed desk calendar from one of the local sports media outlets. The little bag was a great idea, as it gave each of us somewhere to carry the bottle of water & veggie crackers we’d already received. Great planning!
And, before even going down to ice level, each donor received a ticket for a hockey-game style lunch. The ticket was for after the blood donation; a hot dog, chips, and a drink (juice, soft drink, or water); right there ‘on the ice’!. Not the healthiest lunch but hey, it’s once a year!
Then it was time to head downstairs, to the hockey arena’s ice level. They’d covered the ice with a removable floor, but it was still cool (pun intended!) to be on top of the same ice that the Habs will be skating on tomorrow night!
Once at ice level, Héma-Québec (In Québec, we have a different blood management organization from the rest of Canada) had such a large number of nurses, technicians, and other employees on hand that I didn’t have to wait at all! There are many steps in the blood donation process, but there were no line-ups to have the administrative interview, or for a free tablet/system to complete the potential donor questionnaire.
There’s usually a wait after completing the questionnaire, to meet with one of the nurses, but I didn’t even have time to sit down before one of them was ready to take my vitals; temperature and blood pressure. And a quick finger-tip blood drop test to ensure that my iron level was high enough to donate blood today; it was!
Once those steps were completed, there was a donor bed already available for left-arm blood donations. All in all, this was my fastest blood donation ever. I wish my medical appointments would do this smoothly, this quickly! No waits, no delayed appointments.
As for the Habs fan moments, none of the current Habs players stopped by while I was at the blood drive; they were all still at practice. But that’s fine; there were a few former players there chatting with donors and posing for photos. I got to meet a few former players, and picked up a few autographs for friends’ kids.
And had snapshots (not slapshots!) taken with Sergio Momesso, the Canadiens’ mascot Youppi, and with a local TV news celebrity; Christine Long. All in all, I think the strangest thing was to be down at centre ice – and to see all the seats of the arena… empty!
The goal of this blood drive was 750 donors, and I hope they made it. When I left at lunchtime, they’d already met 30% of their target, and the blood drive was set to continue until 2000 tonight.
It was great to give blood, and to feel like a valued guest – rather than a number! I’ll definitely try to make it back to this annual blood drive next year, organized by the Montréal Canadiens & the Evenko event management company.
After that, it was back to work until 1700 and then rushing over to the physiotherapy clinic for 1800 for one of my many treatments for CRPS. If you’re reading this post, you may know that one of my aims – with the rare disease portion of this blog – is to raise awareness of CRPS. So that no one else has to fight for a diagnosis, has to watch their body being damaged by this disease, all the while trying to prove that something’s wrong…
So I used the opportunity of today’s blood drive to again try to increase awareness of CRPS. Operating such a large-scale blood drive requires a very large number of nurses all in one place. So I wore my dynamic hand splint for CRPS (also to protect it from anyone touching that hand and arm!), and several nurses dropped by to ask what it was for…
As I’d hoped, I was able to do some more awareness-raising about this rare disease. For the past 4 years, the first Monday of November has been the (unofficial) awareness day for CRPS, so I extended that by a week to raise awareness among quite a few nurses today ‘-)