Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's in you to give...

Over the years, I have had a turbulant relationship with donating blood. I tried for the first time at age 16, and got all lightheaded part way through, so had to stop, being only a half successful donor. When I lived in Florida, I twice did well at the blood mobile, and got turned away once for low iron, and another time had to stop part way through for lightheadness again. Back in Canada, I went and again had the lightheaded fainting issue. So at that point they banned me for life. I was very sad about this, as it was a simple thing I could do, but for some reason, my body was just not cooperating.

I know why it wasn't though. I was deathly afraid of needles. Hated them. Didn't like the site of them, or anything. Not good. And anytime I had to have a needle, my heart would be racing in nervousness and anxiousness. So, as a result, anytime I tried to give blood, my body was on high alert.

In 2006, I was pregnant, and trying to figure out how on earth I was going to survive labour and delivery (back to that sort of fear of needles and really just pain in general). Those fears had to take a backseat when, on March 24th, I had to have an emergency c-section as my unborn child was very sick and likely not going to survive. So, I sucked it up, and somehow made it through the needle in the spine etc. He was born and immediately rushed to Neonatal Intensive care. Over the course of his hospital stay, he received several blood transfusions. In all, 12, from 9 different people. That's a lot of blood products for a baby that weighed only 1 pound 13ounces at birth. And it really sunk in, how important it is that people donate blood. I was determined once again to try.

I called up Canadian Blood Services and asked if I could try again, and they said sure. I went in, and was refused because I was breastfeeding. Subsequently, I chickened out, and soon was pregnant again. Needless to say, I only recently became eligible again, and started checking out dates and times of clinics. I really wanted to go to the one at Cardel, by our house though, and knew the date was fast approaching. I told my husband about it, and that I really wanted to try. He was supportive, but figured I'd pass out or something. I drank extra juice and made sure I was well hydrated before walking over there. I took along a book to read that was all feel good (The Book Of Awesome). I filled in the paperwork, got the finger poke, figuring I'd fail the iron test, but passed (yikes!!), went on to the questionaire and before I knew it, I was waiting to be poked. The nurse spent a bit finding my vein (they can be tricky sometimes), and soon enough, I was donating. I read my book, and was just giddy with happiness.

And a funny thing happened, I succeeded. I nearly started crying when they pulled the needle out. Not out of pain or anything, just so happy that I was able to do this. I was a bit nervous, but mostly over what might happen, not about the needle or anything. I wanted so badly to succeed. And I will go again. I'm excited. I will be successful again. Because it's important.

One donation can help up to three different people. That's three people who might not survive for one reason or another if they don't get a blood transfusion. As a parent of a child that was critically ill and the recipient of several blood transfusions, I will always be grateful to the strangers who took time out of their day to donate. Without them, he wouldn't be with us, and he's great. He's an incredible little four-year-old who is curious about everything and gives the best hugs. Thanks so much for donating. I will continue to donate so that others in the same situation will get what they need. If you can, please take the time to try, it's so worth it...

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