Have you had your cholesterol checked lately? When you donate blood at Grand Junction's St. Mary's Regional Blood Center or Bloodmobile during the month of January, you'll get a free cholesterol screening.

Celebrate the new year with the gift of life - give blood. It's quick, relatively painless (so long as you don't mind them poking your finger with a little pin), and it saves lives. During the month of January, your blood donation comes with this added perk.

I couldn't begin to tell you the last time I had my cholesterol checked. I'm so old I can remember a time when none of us cared about cholesterol. Well, word on the street is you would be wise to watch your cholesterol levels.

If you haven't donated blood before, let me assure you, it's one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. The average visit takes less than 30 minutes. You don't need an appointment. You simply show up at the St. Mary's Regional Blood Center at 750 Wellington Avenue, walk in, tell them you would like to donate, and get to it.

Okay, so there are two things you have to do, neither of which qualify as "fun." First, they ask you a handful of questions. Most involve name, age, and general health questions. Yes, there is this matter of questions such as "Have you ever had unprotected sex with a circus performer shorter than 5'1" while in Austria on a Wednesday between the dates of March 1, 1985, and December 14, 1996?" For most people, not only is the answer a resounding "No," but most can't even remember where they were between March 1, 1985, and December 14, 1996, let alone what they were doing.

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Secondly, before you donate, they poke your finger with this vicious little pin in order to do a blood test. I wouldn't care, but I play the great big string bass, and that little pinhole in your finger kind of smarts when playing. Usually, I can persuade them to use one of my "non-essential" fingers. Check out the photo below. I talked this phlebotomist into drawing blood from my pinky.

Blood Donate 2

The actual blood donation is a breeze. Putting the needle in your arm doesn't hurt a bit. Once the blood draw begins, you sit there squeezing this little "stress ball" thing about every ten seconds or so. Before you know it, you're done.

Now's a great time to donate. Not only will you save lives, but you'll also get a free cholesterol screening. The St. Mary's Regional Blood Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.

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