What It's Like for an Ex-JW to Have a Blood Transfusion

  From: Penny Pease 
            Date: Sat Dec 9, 2000 7:11pm
            Subject: What it's like to take a blood transfusion as an Ex Jehovah's  Witness                

I decided 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.

4:02 pm Saturday Dec. 9
I find 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 anger.
I pause to cry.
Rob noticed 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 matters.
I realize 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 would.                 

The Blair Blood Project
While we share a laugh over this joke  we recall that the blood donor is a fellow who loves Star Trek and claims to know
Klingon, a 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 explain.
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.
We notice 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.
The nurse 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.
Rob comes 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 and apprehension.
The IV pump suddenly started to beep... the bag is empty.
I smile as I realize something.
I triumphed the fear of the Watchtower.
~Penny Pease 2000

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