Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On Serving

On Monday morning, I opened my calendar at work and looked at what was waiting for me that week. I had completely forgotten about that 9am appointment, first on the list...donating blood. I've done this quite a few times, but for some reason I am always as nervous as I was at that first blood drive.

I tried to snack on something and drink some water before 9am caught up to me. I headed downstairs in my building and filled out the paperwork. The lady sitting across from me asked what I had for breakfast that day, and I immediately pictured myself in a confessional.

"Um, some graham crackers. And some milk." (Winced a little.)

What I didn't tell her is that's all I eat for breakfast every day, until my body gets in the mood for some fruit or a snack at 10am. Whoops. She gave me some peanut butter crackers and orange juice while she went over the paperwork. Next, the nurse checked both my arms.

"They always end up doing my right ," I told her. "Even though they always check both arms a couple times."

My veins hide. It's entirely inconvenient when needles are trying to find them, because needles don't stop until they find something. So that never feels good. I've walked out of blood drives with two bandaged arms because they give up on my left arm and go looking for more from my right.

I pumped my fist three times, and she sized up my right arm. "Let's try the left," she said. They always keep hope in the left, even after my disclaimer.

The left side was even less enthusiastic about getting involved, so it was back to the right. She put on a tourniquet and looked hard, rubbing up my forearm and trying to see some hopeful sign of a willing vein.

"I'm going to say no, today," she said. "I'm sorry - thanks so much for coming out, but I just don't think I should stick you today."

I was so surprised. No donation? Really? I've never had the easiest arms around, but they always eventually manage to give blood. It works out in the end.

But this time, my body wasn't prepared. I wasn't hydrated, I wasn't able to donate, and I walked away with both uncooperative arms, bandage-free.

Later that day the Boston Marathon started, and it didn't end how it should have. People were hurt, and people needed help. Runners ran to hospitals and donated blood, everyone did what they could to help the victims of the explosions.

Now, I know my blood wouldn't have gone to Boston. I know the Red Cross even said they had enough in Boston. But still. I realized that day, that even though my heart was willing to serve, I wasn't prepared. I wasn't ready. I hadn't prepared myself to help others, even in such a simple way as drinking enough water and taking care of my body.

I learned yesterday that I always want to be prepared to help others. I want to take care of myself so that I can help others. I want to make sure my family has what they need, so my family can help others have what they need. It felt so funny to be willing to do a good thing, to go and try to do a good thing... and then be told that I just wasn't quite prepared enough. It just wouldn't work that day.

So, not again. I want to always be prepared to help someone else. Maybe that means keeping enough food around so I can make a dinner for someone on short notice, or maybe just actually eating more than two graham crackers with a glass of milk in the morning.

Taking care of yourself is important. Because taking care of other people is important.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...