Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Giving

When I was 17 years old, I donated blood for the very first time. A group of us from our high school went together holding hands and holding our breath as we tried to expect the unexpected. A small girl then, I barely met the weight requirements for donation and had a difficult time with light-headedness. A fellow classmate actually passed out. It wasn't the most wonderful experience, certainly not one conducive to repeating. But repeat it I did.

All through college, lying on rubbery lawn-type chairs in the chilly student union; at the Presbyterian Church in the town where I used to live, at the hospitals where I worked, and later, in my own church. Sometimes it didn't phase me, but most of the time it took a day or two to fully feel like myself again.

Nineteen ninety-nine was the last time I donated. Until today. In the six years inbetween I struggled with anemia and was turned away by the nurses; for my own health as much as for the recipient's.

Nearly two years ago I, myself, received two blood transfusions: one before and the second following surgery. I immediately felt new life coursing through my veins as the old, worn-out me was replaced with vibrance and energy. I saw things from the other side of the hospital bed and it reaffirmed the importance of this life-altering - sometimes life-saving - gift.

Sometimes it's easy to let the opportunity pass. We feel given out. It seems as if one more person asks something of us we will disintegrate into a million little pieces, overwhelmed, fatigued, worn-out. But today, when my day started off with a major set-back, giving to someone else was exactly the right thing to get my focus back on track.

So whether it's a pint of blood, or simply a smile....give. You have no idea the extraordinary gift it may turn out to be.

5 comments:

Rebecca said...

In high school, we always had blood drives. I was never able to donate as I was always "underweight". And - I'm borderline anemic, might I add. However, it's something I've always wanted to do. When I was in the OR with a C-section when giving birth to my daughter, I knew that there was a real possibility of hemorraghing and needing an emergency hysterectomy as a result of a condition with my placenta; the OR was set up with transfusions - just in case. Its funny what you think of when you're laying on an operating table. One of the thoughts going through my head was how ironic it was that I was never able to donate - but would be able to receive. Not sure why that was one of my thoughts - but it was. (it was actually a very LONG time getting to my daughter, there were several obscure thoughts going through my head - this was one of many.) I was fortunate - the transfusions were not used, and the doctor was able to save my uterus. But what a gift I would've been given had I needed them, because it truly would have been life saving. I'm still unable to donate as I'm now post pregnancy "underweight", and still anemic. But it's something that I'll always encourage my kids to do.

srp said...

I've given through the years. Haven't in about two years now because volunteered to be a first responder for our hospital and received the small pox vaccine. We aren't allowed to donate for a few years post vaccination.

martie said...

My father told us kids that giving blood was the best "gift" we could give. We all donated blood when we could. I no longer can because of openheart surgery and the meds I now take, but my sisters still donate. Wish I could still give the "gift".

naive-no-more said...

Like Rebecca, I was never allowed to donate blood because I was underwheight, but I did sign up to be a bone marrow donor.

I matched a man in his 40's in California, but before the procedure, he became too sick. He passed before I was ever able to donate.

I've never been matched with anyone again.

Michael said...

Very nice post Lori. As always, words to live by.