Blood, Sweat, and Tears…But Not in That Order

16 04 2011

Image Courtesy of the American Red Cross.

There was blood, sweat, and tears yesterday, but not in that order.

First came the tears.

Friday was Parent/Teacher Conference Day at Theo’s school. I pride myself on being organized and efficient. I claimed our slot the first day the sign-up sheets were posted. Then, I came home and marked it on our family calendar. I’m sure somewhere in my subconcious, this thought lurked: I may be fighting breast cancer, but I can still manage our daily life with the best of ’em!

I thought our conference was at 10:20 a.m. I would have bet money on it. Big money.

So, when we arrived at 10:15, I thought we were right on schedule.


There was another parent waiting awkwardly in the wings as Theo’s teacher explained that we were late; our 20-minute conference slot had been at 10 a.m.

There was a perfectly reasonable solution to this problem — 11 a.m was wide open and in the meantime, we could meet with Theo’s music teacher. But I broke down sobbing anyway. Right there, in the school lobby.

That should have been my first clue.

I pulled myself together — well, mostly — and we met with Theo’s music teacher and then his classroom teacher. They are both terrific and, despite my earlier breakdown, it went well.

Next, the sweat.

My bff Anita Griglio Kelly chauffered me to yesterday’s chemo infusion. I was feeling pretty weak when we arrived, but I was determined to get my treatment. I had chills, then sweats, then chills again. That mystery was short-lived after the lab results of blood drawn when I arrived at the Infusion Center came back. Although I’d had an infusion of Procrit on Tuesday in an effort to raise my red blood cell counts, they had continued to plummet. I needed two units of blood, asap.

Finally, the blood.

Following my chemo infusion, I went straight to the ER, where the doctors and nurses prepared me for the first blood tranfusions of my life. I’d been on the giving end many a time. It was a bit surreal to be on the receiving end.

My blood was sent to the lab to confirm and reconfirm that my blood type is indeed A+, then “cross-matched” for other markers that would indicate which packets of the donor blood available were the least likely to be rejected by my body.

Finally, two units of the most beautiful crimson liquid I’ve ever seen in my life arrived in Room 8 of the ER. Might as well have been liquid gold. The nurse accessed my port and the tranfusions began.

During the next six hours, as I watched the blood slowly drip from the bag and travel through clear plastic tubing to the port in my chest, I wondered who it was who had been kind, generous, and selfless enough to donate blood for a complete stranger. I would never know.

But if I could, I would tell that person that their gift restored and rejuvenated the Mom of a little five-year-old boy named Theo and the Wife of a loving husband named Don who just yesterday told me that he is treasuring every day we have together on this planet. I’d tell them that I went from a woman so low on “fuel” that she could barely sustain a simple Parent/Teacher conference earlier that day, to one who cooked a breakfast of french toast and bacon with her family the very next morning. Most of all, I’d say two simple words: Thank you.

Several times last evening I looked up at that donor bag of blood and thanked God that there was someone out there who was willing to give it, destination unknown.

So, although I am humbled and grateful for the many people who are stepping forward to donate blood on my behalf, designated specifically for me should I need it in the upcoming months, I also have another request.

Whether or not you are A+, whether or not you can help me specifically, please give blood.

There are lots of “Amys” out there who desperately need it. Go to The Red Cross website and make an appointment. There are convenient donation sites all around, it takes but a few minutes, and it is truly a life-changing gift.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson



12 responses

16 04 2011
Kathy Fecher

Hi Amy! My name is Kathy Fecher and I have been following your blog for quite some time now. I am a friend of a friend. Or as I like to refer to it as..not a stranger..but a friend you have yet to meet! My friend told me a while back that you needed more people to sign up for your blog in order for the publishing gig to go through. She did not want to ask at first, because I have been down the cancer path several times in the past two years with loved ones. But she did. And I did. And here I am…now a faithful subscriber! I wanted to let you know that you are in our daily prayers and thoughts. I read your posts and always close them with a prayer and (sometimes) a tear or two! I can tell just by your words that you are an amazing writer, wife, mother and friend. My brother who battled three different cancers used to call these days(like your yesterday)bumps in the road! I hope this most recent bump is simply a glance in your rear view mirror now! I hope that you find renewed strength and are able to get outside some today with Theo. I hope you and Don enjoy a quiet moment or two this weekend. And I hope you know that even friends that you are yet to meet are thining of you! Sending you prayers and strength-Kathy

16 04 2011

I just found out at the OB that I’m A as well. I can’t give blood while I’m pregnant but after that I can give you all you need 🙂 Doesn’t it figure that we both have “smart” blood types haha. Love you!

16 04 2011
Doris Nielson

Hi Amy, I’ve been off the internet with a pc glitch. But it is good to be back on. So many people at church have been asking how you are doing. So now I can update them. God bless those who can and do give blood. Love, you. Aunt Doris

16 04 2011

you are once again inspiring others to act and make a difference in “someone’s” life. My Dad gave blood at the hospital were he worked as a pharmacist as often as they would let him. I can’t remember exactly how many gallons (or barrels) of blood he had given over the many many years, but it was impressive. Then came the day that he needed a transfusion like you – he also felt it to be a bit surreal…he actually felt a little guilty “using” some of the donated blood. But he and our family were so thankful that some other good soul had taken the time out from their daily activities to give blood. Thank you for being a wonderful “unofficial” ambassador to the Red Cross.

16 04 2011

Amy – Being O negative (the universal donor), I’ve committed to donating every 56 days (what is allowed by American Red Cross). I’m here any time you need a donation, and if not, my blood will be going to others…

18 04 2011
Amy Youngblood

The Red Cross does not want my blood right now….but in a few months I hope to be able to donate. You continue to inspire others as you face your own challenges and that is such a giant form of strength. Thank you for the inspiration. Sending tons of light your way as you rejuvenate. Just a bump in the road.

18 04 2011
Sarah Zowada

Six hours!! I had no idea that transfusions took so long! What do you do while you are being re energized? I’ve given lots in the past (I had a good example, my Dad had several gallon pins) but they don’t want mine right now. God bless you and your family. Your breakfast sounds wonderful!!

18 04 2011
Amy Rauch Neilson

Neither did I! But each transfusion takes three hours. If the doctors/nurses decide that you/your body can handle it, they will “speed up” the infusion and it’ll take about two hours per. My body accepted the blood very well — what a blessing — and I was able to be “fast tracked!”
As for what I did that whole time, well, you can’t go anywhere, since you’re connected not only to the IV through which the blood is delivered, but also to a bunch of monitors to make sure all of your vital signs remain stable and your body doesn’t have a reaction/reject the blood. But I DID have my bff Anita by my side, and we talked and laughed and shared stories from wayyyy back, so the time actually went by pretty quickly.
Whew! What an education! I didn’t know, either, that there was so much to it!

18 04 2011

guess what I am pretty sure I am A+ so if I can help just let me know!! Also I really wish I was at the school Friday so I could have given you a BIG HUG!!
Love Kelly

18 04 2011
Amy Rauch Neilson

You have NO IDEA how much you are missed! I miss having you at Schoolhouse and think about you every time I’m there — and lots of times in between, too! I so wish you were still there! And yes, I’ll take your blood anytime (moohaahaa!)!

19 04 2011
lucy (meau's friend)

thanks for the reminder—it’s time to give blood again. fortunately we have blood drives fairly regularly here in gaylord. there is usually one or two opportunities nearly every month. blessings and happy recovery—SOON we pray!!

22 04 2011
Sara Nickerson

Amy, I am another who signed up on your blog at the request of a Bras for a Cause newsletter, so we haven’t met either, but perhaps one day we will. A friend of mine and I are also battling breast cancer; I have my final chemo treatment today, then start radiation. We’re both hoping/planning to participate in this year’s Bras for a Causel. Anyway, I wanted to wish you the very best; your blogs have been inspiring and I truely hope your progress continues. I have tried numerous times to donate blood, but am a very difficult draw…so bad that the Red Cross finally gave up on me and advised me to donate money instead! (They said I cost them too much money in needles, IV bags, etc., for the teeny bit they manage to get!) My husband frequently donates blood, though, and sometimes tells them it’s on my behalf! So, for those folks who are unable to donate blood, they can always send money. Hope you have a Wonderful Easter with your family! Take care!

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