I said in the previous MMM that we were coming up on a few anniversaries in my life.
The first was on the 7th and I touched on it in my latest post, on the 8th. I lost my best friend in all the world two years ago, to them walking out of my life. I understand a lot more about it now (I think!) than I did at the time. It’s been a shitty, slow process but I’m healing, and grateful for all of the good things that came from that friendship — not all of which were lost along with the friendship itself!
The other anniversary is actually on the 14th. This year will mark TEN (10!) years since my life almost ended due to a random surgical error. (They accidentally caused a 1″ tear in my mesosalpinx, didn’t realize, sewed me shut, and I almost bled to death internally before they figured it out. I had five units of blood and a lot of other stuff, then promptly almost died again because I’m apparently the only person anyone knows who is deathly allergic to Dilaudid, which they had given me for the insane pain I was in after that second, emergency surgery. I’ve rehashed it in boring, tedious detail elsewhere on the blog, I’m sure, but there’s the TL; DR for new folks.)
Anyway…because of that incident, I try to give blood when I can (I fight anemia so it’s a pain to pass the hematocrit check a lot of the time…iron supplements are not so easy on the body, which makes people not want to take them, which…doesn’t help. And sometimes even those don’t do enough). Giving back is especially important to me this month each year.
I went to a blood drive on Friday and even though I’ve been eating all the right foods, hydrating like a marathon runner, and faithfully taking iron despite the gastro issues it causes, I was still too low to donate.
I cried. For the first time in a very, very long time, I cried. I felt like I wasn’t doing my part to save other people, to validate the donations of the people who saved my life a decade ago. (I started donating blood way before that incident but it definitely gave me a new perspective!)
Tomorrow, I’ll try again. And the week after, and the week after, if need be. Blood is so critical — there is no substitute! — and the Red Cross is experiencing a dire shortage. Please give if you can.
I sometimes think about the people who saved my life without knowing me, people who may lead vastly different lives than I do (different politics, religion, ethnicity, orientation, gender, who knows?), and who selflessly gave their very lifeblood so that it would be there when a stranger had need of it. Hero blood.
I’ve had ten whole years since I would have otherwise died. What have I done with my “bonus” time?
A lot, actually, and it feels good to say that. I’d like to think the people who gave the blood that saved me would be happy to know that I’ve gone on to publish multiple books, make and sell art and various crafty things, develop a love of gardening, journey deeper into my spiritual path, and keep raising my three kiddos to live with compassion and respect for everyone.
Those are the kinds of things that make me smile to picture while I’m donating blood — that someone’s mom or son or grandfather or spouse gets bonus years too, that someone out there will get to pursue interests they don’t yet know they’ll have and achieve things they couldn’t have imagined in the years to come. (Also the hugs and laughter and the being there…so far beyond priceless!)
Thank you, anonymous heroes. People say “every day is a gift,” and I am living that to the utmost of my ability.
Bonus: Here’s a random little friend I got today (happy Valentine’s Day to me! haha):