Tag Archives: blood donation

Early Mornings, Falling Glass, Giving Blood

11 Apr

This morning I voluntarily woke up at 4:45 a.m. so I could go for a run. Other Moms who run will understand my dilemma: a hectic lifestyle of juggling work, kids, and other family responsibilities means having choose between sleeping and running. Other runners – Mom or not – will understand that running and sleeping are equally necessary for my physical and emotional wellbeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete masochist. I use some very creative thinking in order to try getting my runs in without having to get up in the middle of the night (or what feels like the middle of the night). Today, however, I had no choice. If I was going to (a) run, (b) get in the distance I was aiming for, and (c) be on time for work, I had to be on the road by 5:00 a.m. Which meant getting up at 4:45.

After all, I think it is reasonable to not want to run in the thunderstorms that were being predicted for this afternoon. And since my desperate attempts to master the art of being in two places at once have come to nought, I could not run at lunchtime and donate blood at the same time.

I had a lovely, lovely run. 7.5km in nice warm weather with just a little bit of wind.

Not a bad way to start a Monday morning.

After my run, I took care to have a nutritious breakfast. During the course of the morning I drank a V8 vegetable juice and ate a banana – neither of which I actually like, but in preparation for donating blood, I needed to make sure my iron levels were up and that I had enough nutrients in me to avoid passing out.

When it was time to go, I took the elevator to the ground floor, intending to get on the subway. As I exited the building, though, I was accosted by a big policeman who was yelling, “Get back inside! Get back inside!” Ridiculously, I offered a lame argument to the policeman.

“But I have to go and donate blood,” I said.

The policeman looked at me as if I had broccoli spouting from my forehead, and said, “Well, you’ll be bleeding a lot sooner if more glass falls off the building.”

Okayyyy. Turns out that a pane of glass had come out of the top floor of the office tower and crashed onto the street about sixteen storeys down.

I took the scenic (read: long) route to the subway and took the train for two stops. Then I got off the train and wandered around like a lost fart until I found the blood donor clinic. I checked in, and as the nice blood clinic man was giving me my paperwork, the shoulder strap on my purse broke and half of the contents of my purse fell onto the ground.

This was turning into quite an adventure.

My medical checks and interview went without a hitch. My iron level was fine. Vital signs were good. No bruises or lesions on my arms. I haven’t had sex with a cocaine addict or been a prostitute.

The donating part itself went well too. The nurse easily found a fat, pulsing vein to use and the needle went in flawlessly. Less than ten minutes later, a unit of my blood was in the bag in memory of Capt. Snuggles, I had a Band-Aid on my arm and I was sitting at a table getting free juice and cookies.

You can only count a day as GOOD when you’re able to get in a good workout and do a good deed.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/prashu/3359028784/)

Advertisements

A Letter For Amy

3 Apr

To my dear friend Amy,

It has been more than two months now since you held your beautiful Captain Snuggles in your arms for the last time. I was one of many people who had been sending out prayers, positive thoughts, positive energy, in the hopes of keeping him alive and with you. I like to think that although the brave Captain still left us, we collectively managed to shift the Universe just enough to give you some extra time with him. Maybe, during those long sleepless nights, you felt a warm aura surrounding you as people sent out virtual hugs for you. The outcome was not what anyone wanted, but maybe – just maybe – we made some kind of difference.

I was so desperate to help you back then, to do something that could be of some practical use to you. But with us living on opposite sides of the border, this was not possible. So I donated blood. It was a momentous occasion. I felt humbled by the fact that it had taken a baby’s tragic situation to spur me on to action, and at the same time, I felt good that it had spurred me on to action. David was still with us on that day when I made my first donation, and I had entertained fantasies of meeting him someday and saying thank you to him for making me a better person.

My heart shattered when I learned of his passing. I could not begin to imagine what this was like for you, what it would be like for you going forward. I confess that I did not know what words to say to you to comfort you, so I opted for honesty. I told you that I didn’t know what to say, but that I was thinking of you, and that I was there for you whenever and however you needed.

Please know that this has not changed. More than two months have passed since Captain Snuggles left us, but for you there must be times when it feels like the blink of an eye. Grief is such a personal process. Everyone goes through it in their own way, at their own pace. No-one can truly understand another person’s grief. I still cannot imagine what you are going through and how it feels, but I am still there for you. You will be in my heart and mind as you go through this first year of birthdays and anniversaries.

This is a big week for us. This is the week of the Captain Snuggles Blood Drive. This week, many people are going to donate blood (some already have) in memory of your beautiful boy. Every unit of blood has the potential to help up to three people. It has the potential to give up to three families that precious commodity of hope. Through the inspiration of Captain Snuggles, this week is all about giving life.

I know that the blood drive is not going to bring the Captain back, and it’s probably not going to make your grieving process any easier. But he will live on in the hearts and minds of all who donate, and all who want to donate but are medically unable to. There could well be people whose lives will be saved by this blood drive – people who, although they will never know it, will be alive because of this baby who has touched so many hearts.

I send you lots of love and hugs, and vibes of strength and peace.

Your friend Kirsten

Starting A Snowball Effect

24 Feb

From time to time, I find myself asking the following question: Why am I here?

Sometimes, when I am in a particularly bleak frame of mind, this train of thought leads me straight into a downward spiral, and I then have a hell of job trying to climb back out.

Other times, though, I can ask this question and come up with an answer (or answers) that make me feel – well, good about who I am. Because, you know, I think I’m quite a nice person. Not that I’m the type to blow my own trumpet or anything.

I am here to make a difference, to help make the world a better place. If my presence on this earth changes just one life for the better, then I think that maybe I’ll have done OK. I like to think that my immediate circle – my family and my close friends – are enriched by the fact that I am in their lives.

I try to instill positive values in my kids, to set them up for happy and productive lives in which they, in turn, can have a positive influence on those around them.

I am a strong supporter and advocate for the autism community. I run a race every year to raise funds for autism services, and I try to spread awareness and acceptance for people like my beautiful boy George. I also try to ease James’ path as sibling to a child with autism, to allow him to balance care and concern for his brother with his own need for independence and identity as a human being in his own right.

As Gerard’s partner, I try to make a difference in the lives of the youth in our community. I support Gerard in his endeavours to keep teens away from a life of crime and gangsterism, to steer them into avenues where they can have a more positive outlet for their creative energy.

When someone I love needs advice or support, I try to be there for them as much as I  can. I have a genuine love and concern for my family and friends, and it gives me joy to help them through troubled times.

When a friend’s baby dies, there is very little I can do to ease the pain, apart from making sure my friend knows I am there, and offering whatever support I can. There is no way to get anything positive out of that kind of tragedy.

Or… is there?

On January 20th, I donated blood for the first time, in honour of Capt. Snuggles, an eight-month-old baby who was fighting for his life. Four days later, I wept – even sitting at my workstation where other people could see me, I openly wept – as I read the devastating news that Capt. Snuggles had slipped from this world into the next.

A couple of weeks later, I started pondering the question: if I started the chain of events, how many people could I get to donate blood, in memory of Capt. Snuggles, over a five-day period? After running my idea by Amy, the brave, brave Mom of Capt. Snuggles, and after receiving her blessing (and some really valuable advice), I am now officially launching the campaign.

The Captain Snuggles Blood Drive.

From 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on April 4th until 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on April 8th, I am inviting everyone who is medically eligible to roll up their sleeves and give a unit of blood in memory of Capt. Snuggles. No matter where you are geographically located, please consider going to your local blood donor clinic in the first week of April to start in motion a sequence of actions that could save someone’s life.

I am relying on word of mouth here, so I need everyone’s help. Please spread the word. Repost, reblog, tweet, talk – please do whatever you can to let the people in your life know about this drive. Let’s work together to create a snowball effect that would make actual snowballs look like lazy amateurs.

Together, let’s save lives.

Currently, there are three ways for you to sign up:

  1. Respond to the Facebook event that has been set up.
  2. Send an email to captsnugglesblooddrive@gmail.com
  3. Leave a comment on this post, but make sure there is some way for me to contact you.

If you sign up, you will receive regular news updates and information, and I will even help you find a blood donor clinic convenient to you. Once your donation has been made, I will ask you to let me know, and you will be added to what will hopefully be the giant number of people who made a giant difference in honour of an incredibly brave, tough baby.

This blood drive is not going to diminish the tragedy of Capt. Snuggles’ plight, or the grieving of his family.

What it will do, though, is this. It will allow Capt. Snuggles to live on through the good that we will do for other families who need life, who need hope.

Together, let’s see what difference we can make.

Chances Of Hope

30 Jan

It is incredible – and sometimes so desperately sad – how everything can change in the blink of an eye.  Just a week ago, I was tweeting and posting messages on my Facebook wall asking people to think healing thoughts for the survival of a little baby known affectionately as Capt. Snuggles.

Today I am asking everyone to send out thoughts of strength and love to his grieving mother, Amy, three days after the tiny body of Capt. Snuggles was laid to rest.

It’s one of those situations where words are not enough.  What do you say to a Mom who has just buried her child?  “I’m sorry your baby died”?  That seems so trite, so inadequate, not nearly enough to express the depth of the sorrow I feel, which is nothing compared to what Amy must be feeling.

It’s not to say that I haven’t tried.  I have left Amy messages letting her know that I am here for her, that I am grieving with her, that I want to do what I can to shoulder some of the heaviness that is filling her world right now.  When she is ready, if and when she needs to, she will reach out to me.  She knows (I hope!) that I am here.  For now, that is what matters.

There is a message that I want to put out there, though, to everyone who reads this.  Capt. Snuggles, during his five month stay in the hospital, underwent a massive array of medical treatments.  That he had hope at all was due to the fact that a family allowed the liver of their loved one to be given to the Captain.  Without that liver, there wouldn’t have been hope.

If you are healthy, if there is no medical reason for you not to, please sign your donor cards.  Please talk to your families, let them know that if they ever have to say goodbye to you, that you would like for your organs to be used to save someone’s life, or at the very least, to give someone hope, to give a family hope.

Capt. Snuggles also received blood.  Many, many units of blood.  Again, that blood would not have been there if there were not people out there willing to give away blood of their own.  These events have inspired me to become a blood donor myself.  I donated for the first time on Thursday, January 20th, and I will donating again in March.  Every 56 days, I will roll up my sleeve, and whisper a prayer for the unknown person who will receive the blood flowing out of me.

I am hoping that by writing this, at least one person who reads it will consider becoming a blood donor.  I know that there are people who are not able to donate for medical reasons.  There are people who really do need to keep their blood for themselves.  But for the majority of us, giving away blood is a piece of cake.  I had absolutely no ill effects after my encounter with Canadian Blood Services.  I felt great, and I didn’t even have a bruise.

If you are medically able to, please look into what it will take to donate blood in your area.  Please think about saving a life, bringing hope and joy to a family.