Feeling guilty about blood

Published 9:54 pm Monday, January 16, 2012

I have a small confession to make, Suffolk.

I’ve previously written about my commitment to give blood every two months. Until November, I’ve held fast to that commitment.

But that month was an extraordinarily busy one for me.

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So when the phone beeped to remind me to give blood again, I dismissed the entry. I meant to wait a week or two to find a donation site, just until things had calmed down at work and my blood pressure had returned to less-stress-fueled level.

But a week or two stretched into a month, and suddenly it was 2012 and my phone was ringing again, only this time it was the Red Cross saying that my particular blood type was in demand and wasn’t it time I thought about donating again?

This might have been the first time a recorded message caused guilt to balloon up and take over my day.

So I hurried online and hunted for a donation site. I was in luck. A blood drive was happening right near my house on a day I had off.

There’s nothing better to get over a touch of guilt than to make up for your failure with a success.

So I showed up that Saturday morning, ready to do my duty and right my wrongs.

Until the nurse who had just drawn a sample of my blood gave me the bad news.

“Sorry, honey. Your iron is low. No needle for you today.”

I protested. It couldn’t be my blood. I’ve never had a problem with iron.

When I finally resigned myself to the fact that she was right, I attempted bribing.

“I’ll give you the last piece of gum from my pack if you just let me give blood today!”

She just laughed and told me I was wasting my time.

“It’s for your own good, honey. Eat some more meat and green vegetables and come back in a few weeks.”

I slouched out, embarrassed to be without my proud “I Gave Blood” sticker or my free juice and cookies.

According to the Red Cross, one pint of blood can save three lives.

So it’s no wonder I feel so guilty when I can’t give.

But you can bet that when I got home, I had a whole bowl of broccoli and a steak. Well, my wallet can’t afford steak, but I definitely had that broccoli.

And I look forward to proving that iron test wrong on the next blood drive I can attend.

I hear there’s one scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the Suffolk VDOT office, located at 1700 N. Main St.

That’s the great thing about Red Cross blood drives. There are plenty of opportunities all over the area to do your part. And nothing beats the feeling right after you’ve given blood, the feeling of pride and accomplishment at helping to fill a real and ever-present need.