“You should think it over – you’d feel so much better if you took a transfusion.”
My patient lay in her hospital bed, head at the proper thirty degrees of comfort, staring at some private point on the wall across the room. Her anemia had worsened and I couldn’t tell if it was from the effects of cancer or of chemotherapy. It didn’t really matter since the treatment was the same: two half-liter units of merlot-colored blood, courtesy of a pair of anonymous angels of mercy, also known as donors.
“I really don’t want to do that.”
“You don’t have to, but getting two bags of blood will help your fatigue and tiredness.”
“Yes, but how do I know I’ve got good blood?”
“How do you know you’ve got good blood? You mean is the blood safe?”
Her eyes met mine. “I mean, have I got the right kind of blood for this?”
I recalled what she had shared with me during our first visit, about how she had spent forty years working with school children while raising her daughters. She possessed an aura that reminded me of walking through summer meadows, but until today its source was unclear. As she fussed with her blanket I suddenly seemed to see behind her hardened voice. Here was a woman who had spent her life giving to others, who never showed up late nor petulant, a wife and a mother, an independent soul who now was forced to ask for mercy from a disease that harvested the living like a scythe. I still wasn’t sure what she meant but answered her with a smile.
“You’ve got great blood – you worked your whole life to earn it. You know, you’re my role model on how to live courageously. I can see the strength flowing through those veins.
“You’ve got the right kind of blood all right, and I’ll remember that whenever I think that mine is faltering.”