Thursday, April 23, 2015

Being Negative

I tried to think of a somewhat attention grabbing title so that I would entice you to read – yeah, how did that work?

I’m going to be somewhat serious.

I’ve checked yes on being an organ donor for as long as I can remember having the option.

I’ve signed up to be a marrow donor after realizing I should have signed up many years ago, and after realizing how someone saved my uncle’s life. I knew if I could ever repay that favor on his behalf, I would be honored.

I’ve known my dad to give bloody for many, many, many years. He inspired me, whether he knows it or not, to also be a blood donor.

You see, I’m O-, the universal blood donor, the baby blood donor, the blood they keep on emergency helicopters. Nurses say I have great veins and never have an issue sticking me. My workplace has a blood mobile 300’ feet from my office every two months, which means I can give on my lunch break. So how can I not give? I can easily help people – save up to 3 local lives with each donation as our local blood bank tells me.

So you see, I’m negative, and it’s a wonderful thing. Less than 7% of the population is O-.

I’ve tried to give blood regularly but between my hemoglobin being slightly low for donation requirements and pregnancies, I wasn’t able to give as much as I would like.  However, since Owen, my hemoglobin has been fantastic, and I believe I was only turned away once.  I recently received another gallon pin donation, and I had a goal to donate 6 times this year!  The first donation of the year went well, and I was looking forward to my next one in March.

But plans changed…and they changed again.

I thought, how much do I share? I didn’t want to share, but then I realized the gift I had received and its impact.

Last week, I had a blood transfusion. Some wonderful donor out there potentially saved my life.

I didn’t want the blood, and at first I tried to turn it down. Knowing that I can only receive O- and knowing that there has to be more critical people out there who needed it – I felt guilty and selfish for even the suggestion of a blood transfusion. To me, donated blood was for those who had cancer, babies in dire need, life or death situations, I didn’t feel like my situation met those criteria in my mind.

But that’s why we have doctors, because they know what we really need. They’re looking out for our health, they know the risks, and they don’t make decisions lightly, at least I believe this to be true of my doctor. 

My doctor had asked me how I was able to stand, let alone function without passing out…I wanted to be a smart alec and tell him on my own two feet, but I refrained

Thinking back, I had been tired and having headaches the past week, I figured it was my body recovering. I was also taking iron because I knew I had lost blood. I didn't realize how dire my situation was or could have been. 11 days later my blood loss, my blood levels were bad – hematocrit, hemoglobin and especially the Red blood count.

I mean, otherwise, I felt relatively healthy. I did. 

I never thought at any point when I donated blood that I would one day need someone else's donation. Never

When I woke up after surgery and the blood transfusion, I could tell a significant difference in my body, my headache was also gone. When I woke up the next morning, I didn't feel any sort of dizziness. I felt like a new person. I couldn't believe the difference since receiving the blood transfusion.  

I felt I could run a marathon – rest assured, I continued to rest, I realized how much I needed to follow doctor’s orders.

That day, I penned an email to our local blood bank thanking them for everything they do.  Without them, who knows how my body would have replenished itself - what if something bad did happen due to the low levels? Passing out while driving my kids? Or just passing out while my husband was at work? What if I hit my head?  Not good thoughts…

I’m still taking lots of iron as part of recovery, and I know I’m not 100% but I am getting there, slowly but surely. Frustrating because I want to run, I want to work out, I want to pick my kids up and spin them in circles – okay one circle, I get dizzy even when I’m 100%.  But I am OKAY, and I am better each day.  Just a week later, I am amazed at the difference in how I feel physically.

No worries either, the reason for the blood levels being so low is known and not occurring again, so no further health risks or blood loss.

So what made me share today?

My local blood bank sent me a birthday email – someone possibly ensured me that I saw my 32nd birthday. 

I am sad because I cannot donate for an entire year because I had a blood transfusion.  There goes my goal…

But I went on to blood bank website, and one of the many ways to help the local blood bank is 1. Donating! 2. Advocating 3. Holding a Blood Drive

So by sharing, I hope to advocate.  Maybe you’re a sometimes donor or a one-time donor or a never donor.  Can you help me – can you donate one time for me? Just once…help me ease my guilt of taking blood by you giving some. You don’t need to be local, any donation anywhere helps!  So I’m advocating, and I’ll advocate for the next year until I can get back to Number 1 – Donating.  

And thank you to the regular donors – thank you to whoever was my donor.