One Small Thing Can Make a Big Difference. Why you should donate blood.
You know this is my third attempt at a blog today? I just can't seem to focus and land on a topic. I have blogger's block. So I decided to make today's post about something I'm sort of passionate about, donating blood. I say sort of because I also think it's super gross, but I have come to terms with the fact that I don't think I'll ever not be grossed out by it. But it's important to me and I periodically post a photo of me donating to remind folks to get out there and do the same. I don't ever really explain the "why" behind what makes donating blood so important to me though so I thought I'd share.
Now, I'm not a sharer of things very personal, particularly things like my memories of this experience, so I'll do my best to be a good sharer, especially if it will get you to donate blood, but be ready for some grossness too.
Now to begin it's important to note, the origins of blood donation in my family go back as far as I can remember. My Grandpa was a volunteer firefighter (firefighters tend to donate regularly) and also volunteered for the American Red Cross for as long as I can remember, up until he was physically incapable of volunteering anymore. So, naturally, he also donated regularly until he was no longer healthy enough to. My father was a paramedic and firefighter my whole adolescents and he knew too well the lives saved by blood donation. He still donates regularly to this day.
As if these two fantastic examples weren't enough to inspire me to donate blood (which I have done semi regularly my whole adult life), my own personal experience has made it a little more, well, personal.
In 2008 I had the privilege of marrying my best friend. Shortly after we became pregnant with our first child. The pregnancy was fine, but we moved from VA to FL and then FL to SC trying to find the best place for work and raising our new born son. By the time we got to SC I had two months to find a birthing center (this was the path I chose and this blog IS NOT a debate about birthing centers vs hospitals or midwives vs doctors). I found one that checked all the boxes and in January of 2009, around 5:00am, I knew I was in labor. Again, this is not a birthing story, so I'm not going to drone on with the details. I'll fast forward to "Congratulations! It's a boy!"
I birthed him in a tub, and was moved to a bed shortly after. But I was still bleeding. A lot. I remember even though I was shaking like I had the chills I got so hot. Stiflingly hot. So hot that when they put my precious brand new baby boy on me so I could try and feed him I pushed him away. I couldn't breath. It was too hot, he was too heavy. I was still bleeding. See, the placenta didn't come out. And it showed no signs that it was going to. I remember the midwife trying to get in there and pull it out. Someone had to hold each limb down because it hurt like hell and I tried to swing at her and kick her, anything to stop her. I know I screamed, or at least, I think I did, it might have been in my head.
Finally someone called an ambulance. They got there really fast. I think. I honestly have no idea how long anything took. I just remember how hot it was and then feeling like paint when you slowly add water to it, just getting thinner and thinner, fading to a colorless nothing. I'm not the most religious person in the world, but I do believe in God and I certainly remember telling him there is no way I'm leaving TJ to raise this baby on his own so, forget that, it's not an option! I remember the medics showing up. They were very nice and got me out of there quickly. I think. They kept telling me to stay awake. I focused on that. I wanted to sleep, but apparently that was a bad thing, so no sleep. Got it. That took a lot of energy. Staying awake. I knew I had a baby and I tried to think of him. Stay awake for him. I remember a brief elevator ride and doctors talking to me. One of them said to me at some point "this might feel a little funny", to which I replied "Is it going to make me laugh?" and then nothing and then I woke up.
I was in a new room with a nurse staring at me. I saw her face relax as she gave sigh of relief "You had us worried. We thought you'd gone to meet Jesus." No sugar coating it here! I had more needles in me than I even want to try and remember and I was tired. But I felt fine, yay for drugs! I wanted to see my baby, my husband, let everyone know I was fine. I hate it when people worry about me. They wheeled me to a proper room and I got to hold my boy. I remember that feeling. How insanely amazing it felt to hold him, how guilty I felt remembering I had pushed him away earlier. But I had him now and I wasn't ever going to push him away again.
They kept most of the tubs in for at least a few days. I was given blood during my surgery. I was given blood after my surgery, and I was given blood a couple more times after that. After four units of blood and a week in the hospital I was sent home to continue recovering.
And you know, while I think about the amazing medics (who's names I can't remember) and the lovely doctors and nurses who cared after me (who's names I can't remember), I also think of the blood donors (who's names I'll never know). Because no matter how amazing all of the medical professionals who looked after me were, if kind people hadn't taken time out of their day to donate blood, never knowing who would get it or how it would be helpful, I wouldn't be here today. Two of my children wouldn't exist. I would have missed every second of my oldest's life. Their gift didn't just save my life, but it made a world of difference to the lives of my family too.
So if you donate, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. If you don't donate, what's stopping you? The American Red Cross is a national blood donation service, but there are also smaller, more local blood donation services in most areas, which a quick google can locate. Get after it, make a difference, save a life.