In recent weeks I have been struggling with an old nemesis: self doubt. This has snowballed into a sort of ‘Blogger’s Block’….In fact I made a couple of posts and after a time of reviewing them, they both ended up in the “trash”. Not deleted, because, though I didn’t feel I could articulate these topics in a helpful way at the time, they are a part of me and there is always hope that I will find a way to resurrect them.
And so, as I regain my focus and stay true to the reasons I started this blog, I will post about something that is near and dear to my heart. The subject of blood donations.
I knew I would address this when I saw a local blood drive being publicized during the Christmas season. Although blood is needed all through the year, at the moment we are entering Prom season and Spring Break. Our young people are out and about and, every parent’s worst nightmare….vulnerable to accidents.
A particular epiphany I had one day made my blood run cold…if you have ever had this happen to you, it is both amazing and horrifying…and on this day I took notice. It was during the time my husband was on the respirator in September of 2011. Maybe it was because, though we had dodged the proverbial bullet with the bypass surgery a couple of months before, we had had the rug yanked out from under us yet again. For the second time in two months, we had viewed the fine line between invincibility and catastrophe, and catastrophe had nearly won this time. All my emotions were raw as I realized that we were vulnerable. Vulnerable to things we couldn’t control. Even vulnerable to death.
I think it was the Tuesday of the respirator days that I came in to sit by him at visiting time, only to see he was getting a blood transfusion. I knew that the balance of all his internal functions was being monitored and carefully tweaked to give him the best chance of recovering. When I looked at that bag of blood hanging on the pole, it dawned on me: what if they had NOT had this blood in store? He obviously needed it. What if his life depended solely on whether or not they had blood to give him? What if NOT having blood available caused him to lose his battle to recover?
The answer is simple and something we can all do ensure no one loses a life because of a blood supply shortage: we can roll up a sleeve and DONATE!!
Of course there is fear in anything that has never been done. I was terrified the first time I donated. However, if there is ever a time when one feels welcome, it is when entering the room at a blood drive. Maybe I’m a bit twisted, maybe I’m just a tired wife and momma (I have been known to fall asleep in the dentist’s chair…while he is drilling), but I enjoy the bit of time that I am treated like royalty.
Once screened, you are settled into a chair and reclined to a relaxing position. There IS a needle stick involved. However, once the needle is in, there is no pain…that is how you can have an IV in your arm for days on end while in the hospital.
Experience has taught me a few things: for instance, I found that I do better to sip my Sprite while I am donating. If you feel this would be helpful, just ask. I would also suggest not moving your head around too quickly, so as not to get woozy. Also helpful is not to look at the arm with the needle until you are used to the process. Being hydrated before the donation might help things go faster as well. Don’t drink a large quantity of water as you are walking in to donate…start that morning, drinking just a little more than you normally do.
Become aware of the others who are there, maybe engage in a conversation. You are all there for a common, noble purpose. Your gift that day will aid in someone’s recovery, or even more profound, someone will have another opportunity to live. And before you leave, there are soda and cookies. Take them and savor…the volunteers highly recommend it. And, you have earned it.
Please, before hesitating….picture this: you are standing in the emergency room, your loved one is behind the curtain, and doctors are telling you that too much blood has been lost, and they don’t have the correct type on hand. Or it will be several hours before they can get it from another hospital. Your loved one may not survive because there is no blood available.
Now go roll up your sleeve. It will be one of the most amazing things you can do. I promise.