Some Thoughts After Donating Bone Marrow
I'm writing to you from my bed after giving over a liter of bone marrow. That bone marrow has already been infused in it's intended recipient. A new immune system and lease on life are on the way!
When I was going to Stanford for all my pre op visits it wasn't lost on me how lucky I am--I think many of the people at the Cancer Center would prefer to be a donor, not a recipient.
I've had my post surgery check up, big bandage removed and all the pain easing chemicals processed out of my body. I didn't have much pain (lucky, that isn't always the case I hear). I had some fear going in (the unknown, going under anesthesia etc).
I'm still blown away that I was a match for someone else--the statistical chance is one in 540. I was on the registry for 5 years--I had no idea that I would get the opportunity to do this.
The temporary aftermath of the donation is that I don't have much energy. My job over the next few days are to rest, eat things to rebuild my blood and not get too crazy.
Still, I couldn't resist writing you. It was pressing on my heart.
Before my surgery date I was finishing up my book so it could go through the production process.
As a treat for all my hard work, I started reading the beautiful, evocative memoirs written by Patti Smith. I'm especially taken by "Just Kids" -- her telling of her love and working relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.
Patti went to NY with not much in her pocket to pursue art--it was all she wanted to do. She met Robert Mapplethorpe during that time. He didn't have much either--they were broke and lived on the edge, sometimes homeless and usually hungry.
Robert was absolutely convinced of his talent. Patti wasn't so much convinced of her own gifts as she was committed to the life she wanted.
How often do you talk yourself out of the things you want in life because you are afraid it "won't work out" that you will waste your time and that nobody will see your work as good.
It is so easy to talk ourselves into believing we are absolutely alone and that no one cares about what we're doing so we just flip our dreams over and do whatever seems like a sure thing.
I have a mean little voice in my head that wears a mask that looks just like the face of whoever said something careless to me (something I interpret as being "oh, bless your heart, your little pursuits are so cute"). It's the cold water that gets splashed on my enthusiasm. It is the voice of No.
All I know is that after reading about Patti and Robert I wanted to write more poetry and paint more often. I want to work on these things because deep inside me I know I am the only person that can do them even if I never get a shred of outside validation--it is enough that I pursue my dreams BECAUSE I CAN.
I don't even have to starve to do these things I long for.
I don't need approval either.
Neither do you.
Life is such a gift--we are either lead by the opinions of others or we lead our own lives. Each of us has things more rare to offer than even being a one in 540 match.
Here is a little game for you to play. Take out your journal (pad of paper, Evernote, whatever) and finish this sentence: I would do ____ right now if only___.
Do as many of these as you like but pay special attention to the ones that you feel something in your body over or send you down the rabbit hole of reasons. It seems we have the biggest stories about why we can't do something when it is really the most important thing for us to do.
I'm going to be up and around in a few days. If you'd like to chat about that thing that hooks you in the gut, put something in my calendar.
If you want to be a bone marrow donor, you can start the process of getting on the registry at Be the Match. If you have questions around that, I'm totally open about talking about that too.