Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bleed the Freak

     Blood drive at work today, whoo-hoo! (That was sarcasm, for those of you who couldn't tell.) I, like the vast majority of people, don't actually get excited about the prospect of being stuck with a needle. I know it's for a good cause and all, but it's just not my cup of tea. My husband doesn't donate blood, either, though his reasons are a bit different than my own. Having been the recipient of a titanium aortic valve and undergoing aortic root replacement surgery when he was twenty-eight, he's now on Warfarin for the rest of his life. Having been born with Marfan's Syndrome, he'll be on beta-blockers the rest of his life as well to keep his blood pressure under control. In short, the man's blood is tainted.

     That's not a terribly unique issue, I know. Hell, my own mother's been on Coumadin for years. The thing about blood drives isn't so much that my husband can't donate - it's the why he can't donate and all of the obligatory explanations that come with his initial refusal. See, one of the tricky things about having such an unusual disorder is that, inevitably, the people you're talking to have never heard of it and therefore know absolutely nothing about it. Adding to the fun is the fact that the more you tell someone about it, the more they need/want to know in order to fully understand what it is you're trying to tell them. It's a snowball effect like nothing you've ever seen, believe me.

     Depending on who he's talking to, discussing his disorder can be a very uncomfortable thing for my husband. He hates admitting there's something wrong with him and when he has to start from the ground up with his explanations, it just becomes nothing but painful. There's really no way around it, though, because people aren't asking to be malicious or nosy - they just want to know why he can't donate like everyone else is. I understand that, because who doesn't want to do a good thing by rounding up as many people as possible to potentially save lives? It's yet another thing that should be simple, but isn't.

     I think there's also a layer of guilt associated with not being able to donate blood, though that's not something unique to Marfan's, either. I know plenty of people who can't donate blood not because of a medical impairment, but because of something as simple as a fear of needles. When I point this out to my husband, though, I really don't feel that it makes much of a difference to him. In his head, it's simply one more thing that he can't do, one more thing that marks him as unwell. There are so many things that have that effect on his head that I choose my battles now instead of trying to fight his insecurities on all fronts every time they pop up. This one is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things and only an issue once or twice a year, so I've decided it can be pushed off to a corner of my mind that I don't visit very often, if ever.


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