What It's Like for an Ex-JW to Have a
From: Penny Pease
Date: Sat Dec 9, 2000
Subject: What it's like to take a blood
transfusion as an Ex Jehovah's Witness
that the best way for me to deal with the fear and confusion about taking
blood would be to use this as a way to help others when they are
faced with it. I am going to start typing this while getting the
transfusion and tell you what it is like...to take a blood transfusion. I
hope somehow in some small way, it will help someone else. If you
appreciate or are helped by anything in this document, please drop
me an email and tell me. This can be used anywhere but only if it is
unchanged in any way.
Saturday Dec. 9
myself strangely sad as I sit here in my hospital bed. My husband, Rob, is
sitting beside me on the bed with his arm around me because he understands
how hard this is for me. He never was a witness, and I thank God I never
succeeded in converting him. The nurse just hung the bag of blood. She
showed me that the bag was labeled with the name of the donor and I
carefully examined it...half wanting something to be wrong
so that I could
run. No, it was the correct donor, my husbands best friend. He is as
squeaky clean as a man could get ( I hope).
The bag was
hung. It is 4:08.
I took a
deep breath, and looked down to see if the blood had started to
enter my body. It has. Could I taste it? I think I can. I am scared. I
have no understanding as to why. Years of programming my husband says...I
don't know. I am afraid that the blood could be tainted, maybe I will end
up with HIV, hepatitis. I read the consent form slowly ...it says that I
understand that there is always the possibility that the blood could be
rejected by my body, in which case, I could possibly enter kidney failure.
Oh goody. .... I took a deep breath, squeezed Rob's hand and signed
"the paper". I understood that no one in this room could begin to
understand my fear. They had never devoted their lives to this horrid
organization who brainwashed me into feeling so terribly, terribly sinful,
fearful... No one could feel it but me.
As I sit
here, the blood is doing its thing... I am having trouble seeing the
keyboard. The flow of tears is unstoppable. I ask Rob to get me some
tissues and close the door , so that I will have some privacy from the
questioning eyes in the hallway. They see the look on my face... it must
look frightened, and they wonder why. Rob tries to help verbally, too, "
it is just a medicine...think of it that way, its just medicine to make
you well." He means well, and I know how sincere he is, but it isn't as
much comfort as I would like.... I know that no one would be able to help
that much ...except One. I suppose if God came down at this moment and
told me that it was ok... that He still loves me and that it would make me
better for the sake of my children, that would make me feel better, but I
don't think that any human being
could know what to say. How does one reverse deeply ingrained lies? How do
you go about retraining your heart to believe the things that you "know"
but don't feel?
I glance up
at the blood bag. I notice how small it is. Remember those hideous blood
bags that artists drew for the Watchtower publications and the blood
booklet? They were huge! They looked to be about a foot long and bulged at
the bottom, appearing like gluttonous blobs reaching out to destroy you.
My bag, minus the tubing, looks to be about 6 inches long. It looks small,
much smaller than I imagined. That is comforting somehow. The color is
different than I thought, too. It is very dark, almost brown, sort of like
the Indian red crayons I colored with as a child. Somehow, that is
comforting too. I smile to myself as I think of taking it down and get out
my paintbrush...what would I color with my Indian red paint? I
imagine painting words...perhaps a letter...yes, a letter to the society
and one to each of the "friends". But what shall I say? " Dear sons of
bitches.." um, nope... that's not it. I think, what to say..... I am
overcome with the sadness of it all...that any human being should have to
even dream of dealing with this commonly occurring event in the lives of
sickly humans , fighting off grief, fighting off fear. I find at this
moment, that it enrages me. I am filled with so much
I pause to
that I stopped and kisses the top of my head sweetly, asking me, "What's
wrong?" I tell him I just don't know. I can't find the words, that's all.
I "know", but there aren't any words to describe this kind of emotional
abuse that men have forced on me in the name of religion. I tell him am so
glad he is being so sweet to me and helping me with this. Once again, he
is here for me when I am sick. Yes, there have been times when he was not
so caring, when it was easy to turn his head away from symptoms that were
happening everyday. But he is here now, and that is all that
that I forgot to bring the camera. Rob says, " Leave it to you to think of
documenting such a life altering event with a camera in one hand and an IV
tube in the other, while typing on the
computer, trying to help other people. I guess I will just have to bury
you with that computer someday, just in case you want to document
the afterlife, huh? " I laugh. He's probably right. I
share a laugh over this joke we recall that the blood donor
is a fellow who loves Star Trek and claims to know
fairly complex artificial language created just for the TV show. I
told him, "If I ever start speaking Klingon, I'm coming after you!
" I think I
can taste the blood. I wonder if I am imagining it. Is it really nicotine
I taste? I shudder.
I am feeling
stupid. I know how simple this is. I'm a grownup. I'm not
dying. So why the fuss? Again, I have no words to
I begin to
think that there should be a program among us, those who
have left, to assist those who have no such support. Someone doctors could
call to stay with those who are taking blood the first time after being a
witness. I take the time to write up an outline for a lecture. We talk
about this for awhile.
that I have had no ill effects so far from the blood. Rob
moves to the large chair in the room, stretching and groaning from sitting
in a tight position for so long. He says its ok when I tell him I'm sorry
he's so uncomfortable.
brings me in some Pepsi. I can still taste the blood. It is now more
annoying than upsetting. I am getting used to the fact that I am doing
this now. I am not feeling as sad anymore. I think writing this is the
very reason why am handling it better now. I am hoping, so strongly, that
writing down my thoughts at this time will somehow help someone
else. If I had been able to read the reactions of other people going
through this, it might have helped me.
We pass the
time watching a documentary on mummies and ancient Egypt. I am
happy to know more about it so that I can explain many of the things
they are doing gives me something to do other than think about the dark,
thick fluid dripping away into my arm.
back from getting his dinner in the hospital cafeteria. He was laughing
and tells me that I'm not as crazy as he thought. He told the nurse that I
was imagining that I taste nicotine because the donor is a very heavy
smoker. She told him that I probably did taste it, because tests are
often done on
blood to find out if someone is a smoker. Well, at least I'm
not crazy....at least not about this.
As the last
bit of blood drips into the tubing, I am feeling relieved that the first
initial dose of blood is done and I am not having any complications.
Finally, I feel hopeful now, looking forward to getting stronger instead
of weaker every day. I survived the unexplained and unwanted feelings of
grief and guilt, fear
The IV pump
suddenly started to beep... the bag is empty.
I smile as I
the fear of the Watchtower.
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