I'm not bad. I just bleed that way....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/03/13 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2011/03/13/10140303.aspx

Nothing technical here, you know the drill. Please skip if the personal stuff bores you or annoys you...

Requests that people make from time to time to join the National Bone Marrow Registry often come from a need of a friend or loved one who is directly impacted by the inability to find a good enough match for a health problem they are facing.

Such requests? They really are more plea than request. And they aren't directly based on believing that the mail they send will "win the lottery" and find the donor to save their friend or loved one.

Not that it isn't in the back of their minds.

It's just that the driving force is the same one that has people who are friends of accident victims to donate blood: people in the health care industry pointing out there isn't enough blood.

Especially rare types.

I'm actually AB+, which looking at this table from Wikipedia indicates:

Red blood cell compatibility table
O− Green tick Red X Red X Red X Red X Red X Red X Red X
O+ Green tick Green tick Red X Red X Red X Red X Red X Red X
A− Green tick Red X Green tick Red X Red X Red X Red X Red X
A+ Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Red X Red X Red X Red X
B− Green tick Red X Red X Red X Green tick Red X Red X Red X
B+ Green tick Green tick Red X Red X Green tick Green tick Red X Red X
AB− Green tick Red X Green tick Red X Green tick Red X Green tick Red X
AB+ Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick Green tick

makes me a universal recipient but a donor for only one group.

There's a metaphor in there somewhere, it was played out in a House episode, something like:

Wilson: Of course, you're type AB. Universal recipient, you take from everybody.
House: Of course, you're type O. Universal donor. No wonder you're paying three alimonies.

The House episode the quote came from went on to make some elementary mistakes in how blood typing and testing works, so I won't take it further other than to say that although I was happy to be able to start donating blood again (as I mentioned back in Seeing red. But in a good way....), my type was not really in mega-high demand or anything since most people can't use my blood. and I'm not a member of the Rare Blood Club or anything. Just typical selfish.

It gets worse when you factor the MS in, because for years I couldn't donate anymore, as I said.

But when it comes to bone marrow, the registry site says it all right here:

Autoimmune Diseases

Most diseases which may be defined as auto-immune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, will prevent you from registering to become a potential volunteer donor. However, if you have a condition such as Hashimoto's or Graves' disease, you may be allowed to register as long as the disease has been successfully treated and you are medically stable.

So the upshot is that I can't donate marrow.

As with the AB+ thing years ago, it isn't me being selfish by choice, it's not me being discriminated against because of what I am. It's me being excluded because of what I have.

The upshot? These days, no one wants my marrow.

Now when those emails come (the most recent one a few days prior and the one before that just a few weeks ago), the desire to respond to them and say that I totally would if I could but they won't let me is something I suppress. Immediately. Because even if it really is all about me usually (and I'm not claiming itis here and now), that mail would clearly be an exception. And there is no upside to the response at all....

I mean, imagine the response was a more polite version of the title of this blog -- the best I could hope for would be they reassure me that they understand. And then I've made it all about me as they reassure and as they feel guilty, which in this case it wasn't supposed to be or do. So it's really best to just say nothing, and the fact that I wanted to help but can't directly do so is just hidden from view.

This very blog is risky in that someone reading it might be less likely to send something they would have sent for fear of bothering me. If you are one of those people then please don't act differently to spare my feelings -- this is my neurosis, and no extra allowances should be taken for it's sake by anyone but me.

In the end, I can't help feeling a small sense of uselessness in such situations, which the fact that I can't say anything about just adds a small sense of powerlessness to the mix. Like how I felt when I admitted to myself that my dreams of neurosurgery weren't meant to be -- that was yet another aspect of this feeling. My kryptonite, as it were. The thing that makes me feel less able to function that can't be fixed by any means other than distance in both time and space from it when I'm exposed....

And that small boy inside me echoes his own version of the immortal words of Jessica Rabbit who he saw years ago in the theater and says

I'm not bad. I just bleed that way.

My plea.

My prayer.

My confession for a crime of which I will never be accused, indicted, convicted, or punished.

But one of which I will never truly feel innocent of.

The crime of not being there to help when I feel like I ought to be.

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