The thought of a needle going through my skin is something that is absolutely terrifying to me. Luckily I don’t remember getting immunized as a child but preparing for my LDS mission and the shots necessary to go to Venezuela sure made an impression on me.
I thought I would never willingly submit to a needle again — until recently.
Giving blood, I always thought, was for people who necessarily didn’t mind needles in their arm and could do it easily without thinking twice. Of course I knew it was the right thing to do if I was physically able, but I always thought that if I gave service in some other way then my unwillingness to give blood would be overlooked.
All of my thinking on the topic changed, however, when a member of my family had to have surgery and it came to the point where they needed a couple of pints of blood.
That family member just happened to be my mother. Last month, my mom took a fall at her house and broke the femur in her right leg. A few days later, she needed surgery to place a titanium rod in her femur.
Right at the moment I heard that, I was extremely grateful for the person or persons that took time out of their busy lives to donate the necessary blood for my mom. It crossed my mind that the only way to repay the favor of some willing blood donor was to make myself more willing to go through the process of giving blood.
As much as I want to say that I was excited to give blood, I just can’t. Leading up to the day that my wife Tiffany and myself were planning on giving blood, I would cringe at the thought of any needle getting remotely close to my arm.
We decided to travel to Murray to donate blood to the Red Cross and the drive there was surreal. Even though I knew I was doing a very good thing, my arm started to hurt right as I passed the Salt Lake Airport on I-80. I was still 10 miles away from my destination.
Once I arrived at the Red Cross, I just put one foot in front of the other to enter the building and before I knew it I was answering a number of health questions. Five minutes later I was on the dreaded chair getting ready to have my blood willfully taken from my left arm.
It would be a lie to say that it didn’t hurt when the needle went in, but I was just trying to squeeze the ball they gave me to get the blood out even faster. The needle spent probably five minutes in my arm but it felt more like 30, and I was so relieved to have it taken out.
Sure it hurt to give blood and that needle felt huge in my arm, but looking back now, I did survive. I knew I would survive going in and I did — besides a few light-headed feelings afterwards. I also felt really good about the act of service that I performed. I might have helped someone else’s family member receive the blood that they desperately need.
I also know that if I can give blood and survive the ordeal, then anybody can do it.