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Gaining Perspective

It never fails.  The minute I start blogging about not blogging for a while, I get flooded by writing opportunities.  Sometimes the absence is due to lack of inspiration and sometimes it is due to lack of time.  For whatever reason, writing about writing seems to get me back on track.

Today I went to Virginia Blood Services for my regular platelet donation. I have been donating blood since high school but I started donating platelets almost two years ago on Charlotte's birthday.  I have been making that my de facto mode of donation ever since.  My goal this year is to make at least 12 donations and I am on track to make that happen.  

Sweet Abbie
I think about Charlotte, and the other kiddos who require platelet and blood donations during their treatment, every time I make a donation.  Today, I thought especially about Abbie Waters since a blood drive was held yesterday in her honor.  I dedicated today's donation to her. 

Giving platelets is a little more labor intensive than whole blood donation.  The entire process lasts a bit longer. I am usually at the blood center for 60-90 minutes.  I am hooked up to a big machine that monitors the blood as it is removed from my body and then "rinsed back" over time, separating out the platelets and/or red blood cells.  The advantage is that these platelets and red blood cells can be used almost immediately. Plus, I can give again in two weeks.  
The snacks at VBS never disappoint!

Usually this process goes off without a hitch.  I make my donation while catching up on a Netflix movie or reading a book or magazine on my Nook.  They wrap me up.  I eat a few snacks, and I'm off to new things.  

Every once in a while, though, I get a little woozy.  Today was one of those days.  I was asked to donate platelets and red cells and thought everything would be fine.  About 85% through the donation, I started to feel a little light-headed.  I called the tech over to my chair.  She reclined it and brought over ice packs.  I could feel the blood draining from my face.  I told her I was feeling nauseous.  She brought a bag to my side just in time.  Bye-bye breakfast.  

We decided to end the donation and start the rinseback immediately.  Almost instantly, I could feel the color returning to my face and I was feeling much better.  The techs asked me to take my time before leaving and I enjoyed my snacks on the way out the door, promising that my day would consist of no rigorous activity; everything could be done from the comfort of my laptop.  

As uncomfortable as that whole process might have been, it was fleeting.  By the time I reached my house, I was feeling fine.  The donation I made will be used this week with a cancer patient.  Perhaps it will be a child like Charlotte or Abbie.  This minor inconvenience in my life means the world to those families and it didn't really cost a thing.  When I think about the sacrifices that these kids make when they fight cancer, a little nausea is minuscule.  

One of our CaringBridge friends posted about this recently.  To keep confidentiality, I won't use her name, but here is an excerpt from her mom's most recent post:

"M. had her 77th transfusion yesterday. On Wednesday she was SO miserable. She had meltdown after meltdown all day and then had a massive breakdown at bedtime. She got so upset because she had to take a new medication the doctor prescribed to help stop her legs from itching..she cried until she almost threw up then curled up in my lap and cried herself to sleep. it was so sad. So it was obvious that she really really needed blood. Her counts yesterday showed that her hemoglobin had dropped A LOT from no wonder she was so miserable. 

Her transfusion went well. She had to get poked in her port three times because it didn't want to give us any blood. She sat in the chair and never once cried or complained as they took the  needle out and poked her again and wiggled it around. She is such a trooper!!! 

[After she got her blood,] you could tell about an hour in that she felt so much better. It never fails to amaze me how quickly that blood makes her look and feel so much better. Thank you so much to all of you out there that donate are true heroes!"

These are the sacrifices that kids with cancer make.  They should be running and playing and enjoying life with their friends. Instead, they are stuck in hospitals.  Getting stuck with needles.  

This is what gives my life perspective.  


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