The Letter

“True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are balanced. A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.”- Tom Robbins

I’m an admitted procrastinator and nowhere is that more evident than in my stack of unopened mail. But this weekend it was the last few days before April 15, when annual taxes had to be filed and as part of that process I actually go through the mail stack to find needed tax forms. (Thanks for the Christmas cards, you guys!)

One of those letters was from the Red Cross. I have been a blood donor since I was first eligible to donate in a blood drive in my high school when I was 16. I have given ever since, admittedly sometimes mostly for the snacks when I was a poor college student (free pizza and peanut butter and jelly). I have been a platelets donor for 10 years or so, started because the Red Cross Center was very close to my work site in Winston-Salem.

While I love giving blood, I love giving platelets even more. Having had more than my share of friends and family members need them, mostly due to cancer treatment, I am passionate about it. I have blogged about it before. Yes it takes over two hours of your time, but it’s relatively painless and you get to lounge and watch a movie, and have snacks afterward.

Those who know me know my attention span and over time the folks at the Red Cross and I found the normal two armed version did not work well for me. Yes, I can forget that not just one, but two needles are in my arm. It never ruined a donation, but stopped a few prematurely and caused some “playing with needles” for others. When the Winston office got a one armed machine, they told me to always remind them I needed it. It took a bit longer to donate, but there was less chance for accidents when I had one arm free.

I have a high platelet count and could give a triple bag, so I was a welcome donor. Though every donor is welcome and needed. Platelets are liquid gold. Lives are saved because they are available. Though I have never had children, some people are walking around because of my blood and platelet donations. How amazing is that?

But this letter. It says I can no longer donate platelets. Something called HLA antibodies were detected in my blood. These are not harmful to me, but could cause a reaction called transfusion-related acute lung injury to the recipient. It can cause breathing problems or even cause death. To do more harm than hood to the patient..the antithesis of why I donate. It’s just one of those things…..they don’t know why it happens.

It’s been a crazy roller coaster kind of year for me, but this is probably the biggest down I have experienced. I’ve been able to donate more often than normal lately, and my great niece Sela and I had just talked about donating together again Friday night. She is 18 and went with me for the first time in December. Even walking away with two bruises arms (she had needles in both), she is ready to go again. That’s the bright spot….this special woman two generations younger than me is forging onward and will be able to continue to give.

I am still able to continue to donate whole blood or red cells and I will do that (it is interesting, and heartening, that this is an option). Still I am admittedly sad and disappointed that the “liquid gold” will no longer come from me. If you are able, consider standing in the gap for me.

Each loss in life appears to be replaced with a gift. In this season of disappointments and change to my life, I look with anticipation to what doors God will open next. Internally I am kicking and screaming a bit, but I am ready to transform as necessary. And grateful for the opportunities to live life well, but with a twist.

I guess it’s true that the only things that are certain are death and taxes.

Starting at 18……oh, the lives she can save!
The sticker from my last donation

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