ImageIt is scary to be true to Self.  Today I was confronted with past decisions in an unexpected way and I was startled by the amount of courage that I had to muster in order to own up to my own history.

Now that I’m a “poor grad student”, I decided to give donating plasma a try in order to make a few extra bucks to help pay bills.  I have never donated any sort of blood products before because I am a bit afraid of needles, but I figured I could take one for the team since I could read my textbooks while I sat with said needle in my arm and get paid.  So this morning I showed up for for my “new donor appointment”.

The first part was easy:  proving who I was and filling out the necessary paperwork.  Next I had a blood screening to make sure I had all the necessary proportions to donate plasma that day.  I looked away for the pin prick, like I always do, and a quick swirl showed my blood to be healthy and ready for harvesting.

It was the next part that unexpectedly tripped me up – medical history.  I sat down at a computer that asked me a bunch of questions to which to answer “yes” or “no”.  Now this isn’t the first time that I’ve answered a medical history questionnaire.  I’m used to racing through these things because I don’t have much medical history.  I’ve lived a healthy life, I don’t take medications, I haven’t suffered any major illnesses, I really don’t have much history to record. However this one asked me some questions I had never been asked before, or instead of qualifying time frames to “within the last year” it asked if I had EVER done something.  Now this was different and this is where the courage was needed.

My first reaction was to tell a white lie.  “Oh, one time doesn’t count” or “This doesn’t apply to ME” came into my head.  But as I sat there and watched the computer ask me if I had abandoned the questionnaire I had to admit to myself that I WAS being asked these questions, and they did apply to me, and it was important to tell the truth because some part of me was potentially going to be going inside of someone else.  I had to be truthful.

My next reaction was to just get up and leave.  For the first time, I actually felt regret for some of my past choices.  I have always lived by the maxim “no regrets”.  I know that I have made some poor choices in my life, but they are my life and they are part of who I am, and I think who I am now is pretty darn wonderful.  A bad choice in the moment is just that – it doesn’t doom you to a life of badness – you can choose to allow that bad choice to transform you in a positive way over time.  Goodness will prevail in my life, so no regrets.  But here it was, Regret, sitting on my shoulder and telling me to just get up and walk out if I wasn’t going to lie.  It was the only way to save face.

That’s when Courage came and sat in my lap.  He wouldn’t let me walk out that door.  He knew if I did, Regret would never leave me alone.  Courage encouraged me to own up to where I’ve been in my life because I am here now and this is all about the Learning.  Goodness will prevail I stick around for it.  So I stayed and finished the questionnaire honestly.

Finally I was called in for my interview and physical.  We never got to the physical part.  I had learned from the questionnaire that a sodium citrate / saline solution would be pumped inside my body to replace the plasma that I was donating.  I am very aware of everything that goes into this corpus – food, drugs, chemicals – and I wanted to know a lot about this anticoagulant before it was becoming a part of me.  They didn’t have a whole lot of information to give me.  They also didn’t have a lot of information about the various privacy laws that were referred to when giving consent.  So I decided to leave to do further research, knowing that they wouldn’t take my donation regardless of what my research uncovered.

What did I learn?  I had just received a very delayed bite in the ass from my past poor choices.  This was the first instance in which they were preventing me from doing good for others.  I was immediately reminded of politicians with good intent who suffer from the “I didn’t inhale” syndrome on occasion.  While their past poor choices have a tendency to peek up at inopportune times, they are still able to do some good in the world.  It may be a little more difficult, but no one ever said life was easy.  My challenge now if to find ways to use those past experiences for good when they fall out of the closet, and to allow Courage to stand beside me.