YEARS AGO, I made the decision to give my beloved dachshund, Moron, two blood transfusions. He’d been having weekly chemotherapy treatments because of a canine lymphoma disease that I don’t recall the specifics of at this time; it was more than thirteen years ago.
I won’t lie, I experienced a tiny heart flutter when the vet said he needed a blood transfusion. The words “blood transfusion” usually caused a bit of anxiety because as a JW, we were so conditioned to say, “No” while carrying our No Blood medical directive card and showing it to anyone in the medical profession, whether they asked to see it or not.
Last year, around this time, I’d seen a former JW post something personal on Facebook about their child’s possible need for a transfusion and I thought, Wow, I remember feeling conflicted for Moron. I wonder how I’d handle it if I needed the transfusion? I decided that it’d be kind of cool to get a group of people together (former JWs and anyone else) and go to the Red Cross and donate blood. To show support. Solidarity among ex-JWs. Then COVID hit and I thought, Maybe we wait a bit. See what unfolds. Better to be safe than sorry. At the time, as anyone reading this well knows, things were quite uncertain then. They’re still uncertain, but at that time, for me, so little was known about COVID that it was best to wait.
Fast forward to now. People are donating blood and life is moving forward for most folks regardless of the pandemic. I thought I’d consider donating blood again since my friend, Ang, does it regularly. But something stopped me.
Feeling especially tired for most of 2020, I attributed my malaise to perpetual ennui; maybe I’m just frustrated over everything the year turned out to be. I kept telling myself I was lazy or just got crappy sleep the night before. But those are just lies I’ve been telling myself. I thought back and realized, I’ve been feeling crappy, lethargic, cranky, and uninterested since 2019. Hmm, maybe I should make another doctor’s appointment.
What My Hot Doctor Said
I made an appointment. They took blood. My doctor called with the results.
“Well, we knew you were anemic in 2019,” the doctor said. My doctor is so cool; she has long red hair, adorable 50s bangs, black-rimmed glasses, Old School tattoos, she wears black, leather pants to the office, and talks to me about hot and dirty martinis. I love her.
“Mm-hmm,” I said, waiting. My mother was also anemic. This came as no shock.
“But your iron levels are low; dangerously low. Frankly, I’m surprised you’re still up and about.”
“Really?” Now she was scaring me. Not only was I “up and about,” I’d been forcing myself through another intense 90-day workout program, thinking if I shed a few pounds my periods wouldn’t be such blood-thirsty beasts every month; hey, it worked before.
“Really. Given your history, the endometriosis, the surgery, and chronic heavy periods, I recommend iron infusions at the hospital. Then, sulfate-free iron supplements. If that doesn’t do it, blood transfusions, and our last resort—hysterectomy.”
DUN DUN DUN
BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS? Seems I’d have to figure out how I felt about myself possibly getting a transfusion super quick. I mean, how does an ex-J-Dub—one who wrote and published a memoir detailing her own experiences as a born-in JW—feel her way through that?
Voting in presidential elections, I’m fine with now. Confronting my own trained neutrality in times of crisis, I recognize now. Blood? I’mma have to pause here for just a hot sec.
But not for too long.
You see, I’d love to not feel like a blood-starved vampire. It’d be cool if I could get back to doing a burpee without feeling like I’m gonna fall over when I stand back up. I want to have the energy to be in the kitchen for more time than pouring a bowl of cereal requires. I desperately want to read (and write) books without feeling dizzy while looking at the screen or turning a page. I’d like to not feel the need to put myself to bed at 3pm. I’d love to not ignore this shit anymore.
I’ll Take the Blood, Thanks
The iron deficiency anemia explains so much–why I wake up after seven, eight hours of sleep still feeling worn-out, why I had my hair cut into a short pixie because I just didn’t have the energy to even do anything with it, why I sometimes get annoyed when the dogs want a walk and I just. don’t feel like it, why I recently cut my work day short to lie down because simply sitting in a chair made me dizzy, why I ignored emails, calls, and texts…I can look back and understand so much now.
Hopefully, the infusions work and the supplements help. And if I need them, hopefully the transfusion/s also do some good. Because, yeah, I’d probably go ahead with them even though the idea still creeps me out (that’s what years of cult indoctrination since infancy does to a person, just FYI).
I don’t eat meat, so please spare me that lecture. And yes, I’ve been eating iron-rich veggies and other proteins for quite some time; I friggin’ love lentils, spinach, and chickpeas. And even people who eat meat can have iron deficiency anemia–especially if they’re women with heavy menstrual flows, which I’ve had since I was twenty.
So, here I am, almost forty-four-years-old facing the need for a potential blood transfusion. I find it quite interesting that just last month I posted a blog about blood transfusions and Jehovah’s Witnesses. No, it wasn’t planned; that blog was actually drafted a year ago.
Kind of ironic, isn’t it?
**People (men, women, children) please get your iron levels checked if you’re feeling unusually tired and lethargic.**