Friday, 8 February 2008
Over a 19 month period, I have had 16 blood transfusions. Most times I will get two units of blood, but on a few occassions I have received three units.
The explanation I received as to why I need so many transfusions is because I have cancer in my bone marrow, which means I am developing only immature blood cells and so my hemoglobin is always low.
To receive this blood I will spend between 6 to 8 hours
in the hospital. It is long but I bring books, journals, and
the MP3 player Angelique bought me for this purpose.
The first historical attempt at blood transfusion was described by the 15th-century chronicler Stefano Infessura. Infessura relates that, in 1492, as Pope Innocent VIII sank into a coma, the blood of three boys was infused into the dying pontiff (through the mouth, as the concept of circulation and methods for intravenous access did not exist at that time) at the suggestion of a physician. The boys were ten years old, and had been promised a ducat each. However, not only the pope died, but so did the three children. Some authors have discredited Infessura's account, accusing him of anti-papalism. (source -- Wikipedia)
Now back to the 21st century.
Flashback February, 2006
When I had my first blood transfusion (see earlier blog) I was completely out of it not only because of my cancer diagnosis but also because I was very weak physically. However, I remember feeling that a blood transfusion meant near death. Let me explain this further.
In the late 50's and early 60's my mother gave birth to two full-term still-born babies. Peter was the first and Pauline was the second. I asked my Mom about this today and she believes that they both had the cord around their necks. Poor babies, poor Mom. My Mom almost bled to death and I still remember the term around the house was 'Mom bled white.'
By the way, I still remember the little white coffin that Pauline was in. We were all in church except I don't remember my Mom being there. Maybe she was still in the hospital?? (I can't phone and ask her though because when I talked to her this
morning I mentioned that I might have more questions.
"Not this morning I hope, because I am watching Lost.")
My Mom kills me, she is so wicked.
Mom received blood transfusions after these births. My Mom tells me the story of after having Peter she was sitting in her hospital bed reading a magazine and suddenly turned to look at the wall and saw a vision of the Last Supper. Her words were "Oh shit. Christ. What the fuck, I can't die I have all these kids at home." Mom was shaken. Not long after Mom saw a vision of Mary standing at the foot of her bed and then knew that she would be okay. Needless to say I come from a long line of 'Mary' lovers.
So now you see where my blood transfusion = near death comes from. I also, for some reason had a difficult time wrapping my brain around the fact that I had to have transfusions. I needed to get my brain wrapped around the idea that blood transfusion = life.
Nadalene once again helped me by saying "Mom, think of it this way: Think of each drop of blood as the donor's prayers that the person receiving their blood is getting healthy." This made me feel so much better because it made me think of my good friend Bev who I know gives blood regularly. Her heart is pure and I know that she would donate for the very reason Nadalene stated.
Flash Forward - Present Time
For anyone who donates blood or who is thinking of donating blood please know that you are an angel to me. You help me to be able to make it through a day. There are many times before a blood transfusion that I am really not able to make it from the couch to the phone and if I go upstairs to the bathroom, I see my bed and flop right into it. It is a fatique that I don't believe many people understand.
In the novel 'East of Eden' one of John Steinback's characters tells his son "You see, there's a responsibility in being a person. It's more than just taking up space where air would be."
I have never donated blood and I have too many excuses as to why not. But the bottom line is because I know I didn't want the needle. Now, how I wish I had. I know better now.