Volunteering is bloody exhausting, but in a good way.

Child pouting with arms crossedI wish I could assure you I’m feeling happier than last post, but Sadness did not exit stage left as instructed. I’ve told her to go to her room and not come out until she’s less mopey, but she has refused thus far. Which leads us to the age-old question: If a child pouts in the bedroom, does anybody see?

The week has had its downs, but it’s also had its ups. PALS is still working on a potential fall start for Jelly and me, assuming Jelly does not steal food off the table or run scared from a cat during our assessment. Here’s hoping praying.

In the meantime, Monday afternoon I made it through my first volunteer shift with Canadian Blood Services. I put on my red volunteer vest and was trained by someone 30 years my juniour. Yes, I felt old next to those whippersnappers.

My job duties, which are similar to those of the Cancer Centre’s beloved Cookie Ladies, include:

1) Preparing food for donors. This involves making soup from a can, ensuring all trays and baskets are overflowing with cookies and other snacks, and stocking the refrigerator with juice and pop.

2) Feeding people after they donate. I am an expert at feeding people, so I enjoyed this task the most. I was struck by how grateful donors were to receive free food after volunteering their time to give the gift of life. No, thank you, donors!

3) Cleaning tables after donors have eaten. I learned I am competent to sort recycling and wash dishes. Please don’t tell J., who is the chief bottle washer in our family.

4) Monitoring donors, and new donors in particular, for any untoward reactions following donation, including excessive bleeding, vomiting, dizziness, or fainting spells. Thankfully, there were no adverse reactions during my shift. I’m not great in a crisis, remember?

5) Encouraging donors to schedule their next appointment before they leave, directing them to information on plasma and platelet donation, and suggesting they join the stem-cell registry, especially if they are young, male and ethnically diverse. Call it racial profiling if you must, but for a good cause.

I believe I met basic volunteer qualifications, for CBS at least. I may have even been overqualified in some areas, except when it came to deficient soup ladling skills. Nonetheless, over the course of my three-hour shift, I was fairly pleasant and efficient and made the occasional donor laugh. I may have to work on toning down my enthusiasm a bit next week.

To my surprise, I only teared up once during my shift. When the tables were overflowing with snacking donors, I was suddenly awestruck by the selflessness of these people, many of whom were repeat customers. One fellow mentioned it was his 65th donation. 65! That’s a lot of blood. How many lives has he saved along the way?

My leukemia has been a non-issue thus far for both CBS and PALS. Both groups have said: “Do the best you can.” The CBS scheduling gal will gladly accommodate my need for three-hour shifts. After standing that long, I was absolutely tanked, but it was a good tanked. I can’t think of a better distraction from Sadness.


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