Is It An Obligation?

It's a stock photo. My nurses all wear purple gloves!

It’s a stock photo. My nurses all wear purple gloves!

I finally go in for blood typing today so I can get my transfusion on Thursday. It’s been a crazy ride getting to this point, as those of you who follow the blog have read (if you don’t know, read the last two posts before this one and it’ll catch you up some). It seems so strange to me the restrictions and regulations this hospital has and how they treat patients. I realize that they can’t go handing blood out to just anybody, but when a person clearly has all the requirements for it, and the symptoms and blah blah blah. What a strange experience.

But more than that, I find myself a little hesitant about the transfusion. Most of the things we put in our bodies come from animals or plants–we don’t think a thing about it, you know? I take a thyroid medication that is a natural dessicated thyroid. Mine comes from pigs. Some of the thyroid supplements come from cows. We eat pork and we eat hamburgers and steaks, so really, medicine from animals doesn’t do a lot to ‘bother’ me. I’d much rather a healthy animal who is going to be killed for food, that he or she be used in full and there not be waste. Like the Native Americans who honor the animal who gave his life for nourishment, and then they use every part of the animal in some way. I like that concept, if animals have to die for our needs. It makes it more… palatable, I guess. Morally, there’s a part of me that wishes I were able to be a strict vegan vegetarian. Alas, I cannot. It’s not who I am.

But when I think about blood, coming from another human being and going into my body. It seems so strange to me. Almost creepy in a way. I realize the blood is tested and that it’s almost guaranteed to be safe now–but there was a time when HIV/AIDS was transmitted via blood transfusions because they didn’t know what it was to test for it. People died of AIDS who had no significant risk factors for it, simply because they needed blood at some point. A disease such as that could be on our radar at some point. The thought of that is a little scary.

Then there’s the thought of the person who donated. There’s this sense of obligation almost. I think about these things. When the person who donated that blood went to the donation center, they sat down and gave their blood to be given to someone else, they were thinking it was going to save a life. They probably didn’t give too much thought to it, but somewhere inside them, they were thinking they were saving a life–I know, because years ago I donated blood when I was healthy and able to do it and I know what I thought. My daughter has donated blood. My friends have donated blood. And all the time, they were thinking that blood was going to save someone’s life.

But this blood that I’m getting isn’t really saving my life. I won’t die if I don’t get this transfusion, at least, probably not. But it is going to make me feel a lot better, and more than that, it should jump-start my body to get it to start making red blood cells properly again. The ones mine are making right now are too pale and immature to carry oxygen as well as they should. So not only do I have respiratory failure due to my lungs not perfusing oxygen well, but I also have a hemoglobin oxygen carrying issue, in that my hemoglobin is super low and my iron is super low, and so the red blood cells my body is making to try to repair that are all pale and immature. They don’t carry oxygen as well, and there’s just not enough of them. Adding blood to my system should add mature red cells and give my body some time to slow down on the production of hemoglobin and make it right. It’ll add some iron to my system too, and all the way around, it should help me get back to a more normal state for me.

In my life, the difference this could make is huge. It lets me get out of bed, and not feel so washed out and completely exhausted. I’ll be able to interact with my family again. I’ll be able to leave the house again (I have even cancelled some doctor’s appointments recently because I was too tired/exhausted and felt too bad to go to the doctor–you know it’s bad when you’re too sick for a doctor’s visit!) It will make a significant change in my life. In the really long run, it might actually be saving my life.

But in the short term, emergency situation, it’s not a life-saving transfusion.

So I wonder about the person who was kind enough and concerned enough and brave enough to donate their own blood to save someone’s life, and I wonder if they knew I was the person getting the blood and the reasons why, would they feel that their donation was worth it? Would they feel they had fulfilled what they wanted when they donated? Would they be proud to say they donated to a person like me and that they improved the quality of my life and my family’s life because of their generous donation?

Am I worth that, to them? Would I be, if they knew me?

So I feel a sense of obligation in a way to be the type of person who is worthy of someone donating their literal life blood to make me feel better and to keep me healthier.

And that’s sort of a strange feeling.

On another note, it’s also sort of a creepy feeling. Blood is so symbolic in our society. Family is blood. Blood is thicker than water. Blood bonds. Blood ties. Blood is our life blood. Blood is our energy. It’s the source of our life. Without it, we die. When we lose too much of it, we die. It is the energy of a person, and it’s going to be given to me from another person. And I wonder, will I feel that? Will I psychologically fool myself into thinking I do? Will it matter? Will it be just like any other IV I’ve ever gotten? It’s a strange thought, getting someone else’s blood like that. I realize it probably won’t feel any weirder than any normal IV once it’s done, but prior to doing it, it’s a strange thought. I mean, it’s different when it’s blood from someone you know, a family member or a husband or wife or mother or father. But to get blood from a complete stranger… you don’t know who they are. They don’t know who you are. And yet, somehow, on a basic energetic level, you will be intimately connected to this other person.

We’re all connected at some level, but this pushes that boundary even closer. To share someone’s blood… yeah, sort of a creepy feeling.

Anyway, I’d better hop into the shower. I’m so tired, just raising my hands above my head to put my hair in a clip this morning felt like such a chore. The shower is going to take a lot out of me, but I really need to take a shower before I go get typed. I’ll try to get some pics for you guys of the infusion center. They are supposed to have really nice leather chairs there, I’ve been told.

I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you so much for your comments and loves and prayers and hugs and support. It all means so much more than you can possibly know.

Love and stuff,



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3 Responses to “Is It An Obligation?”

  1. rissa says:

    I have had many bags of blood, platelets and even bone marrow and I have never felt anything from the other person. I think because it is processed it takes the “soul” out of the blood. But I do think if they pulled it straight from them and put it into you- you would feel something.

    As for saving a life- I can’t imagine very often when the blood literally saves the life in that moment. Maybe for a medical trauma. Instead it saves lives by building you back up. Anyone who donates understands that and would be happy that you got it.

    People who are willing to donate usually care about helping someone and aren’t hung up on exactly how.

  2. I would be happy to know that blood I gave just improved someone else’s quality of life. That’s a big thing in and of itself.

  3. Lisa Lee Smith says:

    If it will even temporarily rescue a quality of life for another human being, it means the world. Prayers for you, as always!

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