So I never did donate back at the start of December. I wasn't over by the right building and I was lazy to walk the half mile over there in the cold.
not to be a dick....but that's a pretty lame excuse to not save someone's life....people forget how important whole blood is...if you were on the other side of the campus, and you knew someone that half mile away was drowning and you were the only one who knew about it, wouldn't you run across campus cold or not?
as far as the pain is concerned...as everyone else said it's negligible (depending on the phlebotomist)...the reason getting medicine from a shot hurts is because they're injecting fluid into tissue (i.e. muscle) which pushes said tissue around...and that tissue tends to be loaded with nerves and pain receptors...there are no nerves/pain receptors in veins....so the only pain you'll feel is the needle going through your skin.
for inexperienced (or just plain shitty phlebotomists)....just because you're donating blood doesn't mean you don't have a right to make sure that the person drawing your blood is skilled in their craft. when you're doing your "pre-donation" questions...make sure to mention MULTIPLE times that this is the first time you're giving blood and that you're nervous. request the most experienced person on staff at the time to do your draw so you don't have a bad experience. if the person tries once and fails, give them the benefit of the doubt and let them try once more...but blood drawing is a 2 strikes and you're out scenario...in most medical situations (hospitals included) there are rules in place (either in place by the medical institution or by state law) that limit blood draw attempts to 2 consecutive sticks...after that second stick someone else has to try...if someone tries more than twice request another sticker...also, get familiar with your veins before you go...put a tourniquet on (for a little while...not too long) and see where your biggest/most visible veins are...this will give you an idea of where they will PROBABLY be sticking you, which can help you judge how much it might hurt (right in the middle of the inside of your elbow will hurt more than towards the outside)...REMEMBER don't EVER tell them what to do/where to stick unless you actually know what you're talking about. i'm an experienced phlebotomist so i give them "advice" as to which vein they should use, but i've done QUITE a lot of blood drawing in my day (somewhere in the order of thousands of sticks)..speaking from experience, there's not much more annoying than someone telling you which vein to use, 9 times out of 10 they tell you to use the WORST possible vein because they "think" it's the best one (or they think it's the one that "everyone else uses" when they get their blood drawn)...these people do this as a job because they know what they're doing (most of the time)...let them pick which vein they think is best
Also, bring a friend and make sure that you can sit at tables close enough to hold your friend's hand (even if you're a dude...it's not ghey to be scared), this will give you enough support and distraction that you probably will have to ask if the needle is in.