I did something new yesterday. I was the guest speaker for the Rhode Island Blood Center at a meeting of a local Rotary Club. The older I get, the more I appreciate new experiences, and this was certainly one of those.
Not so much the speaking part--I've done that here and there--as the glimpse into a convivial fraternal order, complete with rousing songs and corny customs. Lunch was served, and even the scary meatloaf was quite tasty. The only thing missing was festive hats, although I think that's a different group.
I was given 15 minutes to talk up the importance of donating blood. The jocularity of the crowd made me realize I should spice up the serious nature of my remarks with not humor exactly, but at least something compelling. I informed the audience that I would tell them two stories.
First, I told the story about my husband and how he's been regularly donating to the RIBC since 2003. He has numerous mugs and posters to show for his generosity. I told them how he actually enjoys the once-monthly platelet donations, relaxing in a comfy chair, nibbling cookies and sipping juice, chatting with the nurses and other personnel he's come to know over the years, maybe reading or snoozing. It's not a bad way to end a hectic day at work.
Story number two was my leukemia story, the play by play of my diagnosis and treatment, with an emphasis on my reliance on the local blood supply to keep me alive when my counts were in the basement. Readers, I had them. I told them you never know what lurks around the corner, an accident or illness or emergency operation where suddenly you or a loved one must have access to a safe and adequate blood supply.
I'm hoping that my give blood-get blood stories opened a vein in the members of my audience and that the blood flow will be copious. While I had their attention, I also made a shameless plug for cord blood donation and signing on to be a bone marrow donor with the National Marrow Registry.
I look forward to speaking to potential donors in the future, especially high schoolers. It's good to get people hooked on lifesaving when they're young. I have the hook, sharpened by the irony of my two stories.