Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Give blood now (or for me, maybe never)

I came to a sad realization a few weeks ago. I don't think I can donate blood anymore. It's something I've always wanted to do, and have multiple times. I think it's important to share life with those that need it. Blood donation, organ donation, etc.

The problem is in my head. I was a 3rd-time 1st-time donor when I first donated. I feel fine all day, but during the wait for my turn, I develop a fever, which effectively disqualifies me. It's happened multiple times. Nothing bad has ever happened to me while donating, although once I felt a little light-headed afterward. I do have "white coat syndrome", and I've gotten better at being calm during my blood pressure reading at the doctor by taking deep breaths and focusing on calm, but I can't seem to beat the thermometer at blood donation time. The anxiety is compounded by my worry of failing the tests.

This year I was planning to get in 6 times to donate. Jay got a pin last year for it, and told me that some minuscule number of people manage to do it each year. That sounded like a challenge to me! I started "practicing" last year. I was denied about once each time I became eligible again and returned the following week to try again. This last time, it was my iron that disqualified me. I've been eating less meat, and my multi-vitamin ran out a week or so prior. Although it wasn't my temperature (we hadn't gotten that far), and therefore not the fault of anxiety, I was terribly upset. During a conversation with the receptionist on my way out, she suggested that because if the stress it causes me, maybe I should find a different way to help. I didn't want to admit it, but she's probably right.

I didn't want to admit it because I feel like this is something I should be able to get over. If I don't it feels like giving in to my anxiety, that my anxiety is something I'll never be able to conquer. And it still feels a little that way.

My sister encouraged me to find another outlet for volunteering. I've worked a day at Habitat for Humanity, and served breakfast at a local women's shelter with work. Both of which I've really enjoyed. Now I'm on the lookout for some other opportunities. Hopefully in doing so I can forgive myself for giving up on this one.

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