Saturday, March 14, 2009


I don't consider myself to be a hero in any way shape or form. Granted I have had many lives within my hands and I have transported many people to the hospital in various stages of life, circumstances and situations, some have survived and others may not have. Some of my coworkers or new trainees at work would be disappointed that maybe they ran transfers (taking non emergency patients to or from the hospital or other facility to or from another hospital or other facility) all day and not 911 calls, I would ask them if anyone died in their ambulance that day? Usually the answer would be "no" I would ask them how many patients they had that day (this number varied obviously, so I will use "X") and so I would then tell them that they saved X number of patients that day because they didn't let those patients die! I have been exposed to a lot in my field of work, I have been on the gunshot or stabbed patients, I have been on the heart attacks or difficulty breathing calls. I have delivered babies. I have defibrillated patients. I have done CPR in someones home, in the ambulance and even occasionally in the ER. I have seen patients "circle the drain" I have gone to funerals for a "frequent flier" who we transported regularly. I cannot say that I save everyone, but I will say that I will do the best I can and unfortunately it is not up to me what the final outcome will always be. It is a job requiring a lot of compassion and strength. It requires multi-tasking abilities and quick thinking in stressful situations. There is a lot too it but like I said I do not consider myself a hero.

Aside from my experiences I have at work I have always tried to donate blood on a mostly regular basis. Now I happen to be a "universal donor" I have O- negative blood. It is the ONLY blood that can be given to any blood type. But at the same time O-neg can ONLY receive O-neg blood. But being the universal blood type it is frequently used in emergency situations. It is also used for newborn babies especially preemies or other patients being treated when the blood type is not yet known. But only 6% of the population (my numbers may be off a little, but it is a small number generally) have O- neg blood. So it is important for donations. Not just of O-neg but any type really but they especially need large supplies of O-neg blood. Blood drive related advertisements and so forth will call donors "heroes". Now I know in more way than one how a blood transfusion can save a life. I've seen the people who need the blood as well as know the stories.

I try to donate regularly. But even knowing it's importance, I still don't consider myself a hero. It's not that I am naive (at least I don't think I am) but I know that there are a lot of people who would donate if they could. There are many factors that prevent some people from being able to, such as a fear of needles. Maybe they don't meet the weight requirements, maybe they have veins that collapse, etc.... there are many reasons why some people don't donate. I don't have a phobia of needles, my veins are generally cooperative and it really only takes about an hour of my time. Plus they give you free cookies and juice after... who wouldn't want that, right?? It feels good to give of myself in that way. I love the feeling of helping someone else. But that is all I consider it, helping them. It's no different in my eyes than last week when I bought a $10 gift card while at target and gave it to the homeless lady at the corner. She needed help and I had just gotten paid. It was something I was capable of doing, most people don't consider a good samaritan a hero for giving some change. So why should I see myself as a hero for giving my time and getting poked for some cookies and juice??

Well today I went to donate blood. I last went in Jan and so as of March 6th I was eligible to donate again. Today they were in Simi. I made my appointment and went to donate. I read over the materials, I had drank lots of fluids to help my veins. I was ready to donate. I knew all my guidelines and was ready. It was no different from my many other donations. I was poked, my temperature and blood pressure were good. My hemoglobin was within it's limits all was well. Than comes the normal questionnaire. I was going through like normal and then came to a question that asked "in the past 12 months (I don't remember exactly what it said for the time frame, but based on what happened next I think that was it) have you received a bone or skin graft?" I remembered my recent knee surgery, I did receive a graft with my operation. It was an achilles allograft. They used the achilles tendon from a cadaver to replace my torn acl in my knee. I thought about it and I remember asking if the graft was like when someone receives an organ, I asked if there was any chance of my body rejecting it? I was told no because there wouldn't be any cells or similar connections to accept or reject it. That there wouldn't be anything to worry about in that manner. So I thought well if it was a tendon is that the same as bone or skin? Technically no, but I hit skip just in case. I continued on and when they came back to review my answers I explained to him what I had been told. I was thinking since it wasn't skin or bone and with what I was told about the cells I should be fine. He looked up some stuff on the computer and I don't think he exactly found what I explained about my surgery but he said because it was a graft from a cadaver I would have to be placed on the deferral list temporarily. He said I couldn't donate today or for 12 months from the time of my operation! So I cannot donate for another 11 months still!! :( I was sad and disappointed! I really wanted to be able to donate and help. But now not only could I not donate today but cannot until Feb of next year!! I signed their paperwork and stuff and they told me I could still take some cookies and juice if I wanted to (but I didn't feel worthy too take any even though they kept offering, I hadn't donated so it didn't seem right, but I must admit the cheez-it's did look tasty) Anyways I was sad and when i got to my car I started to cry! I couldn't believe I was being deferred! I've gone in before and because my hemoglobin was a little low or had been on antibiotics (and forgotten) or whatever I wasn't able to donate, but I was able to go back quickly. I am sad now! I am not able to go back to work yet and now I cannot donate blood either!

With my knee recovery I cannot walk or stand for long periods of time still and so I am not sure there is a lot of other volunteer stuff I can currently do so I feel kind of useless! I feel like I am falling into a rut! It seems all I do is sit on the couch with ice on my knee and color or read or write letters. Not that those are bad things but I am tired of it! I miss helping people!! I know this may seem like a complaining letter when just yesterday I was writing about feeling like an EMT again, but it's not like I know a lot of people spraining their ankles, or who are teachers needing me to visit their students! ....

But I did help the school teachers today in the rally, I stood on the street (for a little while until my blood drive appointment time...)I was in a pink shirt and waved at cars and held signs and stuff, partially because my sister got a pink slip today and especially because I think with all else that is going on economically in the US we definitely shouldn't cut teachers! :( Hopefully if the state of CA decides to make some budget adjustments my sister and many others won't get another more permanent pink slip in May.... anyway we really need to help the teachers! If you really wanna know more you can go to but now what??? How else can I help? I know that in April we are doing service for mormon helping hands, but the flier I saw says we are cleaning the arroyo or something and it specifically says to please not bring kids or disabled because it will be hard work..... normally that's my kind of service project.... but again the knee will hold me back. I think I may try and find a family who needs a babysitter for the day so the parents can go.... than I can still serve but not over-do it.....

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