Today, I find myself tearfully saying goodbye to an old friend, Charlie the Chevy. It may be strange to cry over losing a car, and maybe even stranger when one considers Charlie’s age, but I can’t help it. He’s been a reliable, steadying presence in my life for a decade. He’s been a friend.
In ten years of change, drama, and instability, Charlie was always there– strong, dependable, solid– like a rock. He was in the background as I fell deeply in love and planned an eternity with my ex husband, and he drove me to court to get divorced. Charlie brought my dog child into my life and delivered my Timmycat to his final resting place.
While safely buckled into my little blue truck, I heard of the birth of my K baby and rejoiced. Over the years, he has overheard many sing-a-longs, jokes, and discussions; he could also bear witness of countless spoken prayers and tears during long drives in the country. I have changed Charlie’s oil, pushed him out of snow drifts, and performed major dashboard surgery. I have slept under the stars in his bed and driven him on spontaneous mountain adventures. In short: I have loved him.
When my life fell apart and I left the place where the stars live, it was Charlie who carried me onward. In that moment, he became a symbol of resilience. When I stuffed my hopes into old suitcases and relocated solo across the country, Charlie kept me moving, and along the way he came to represent independence and optimism. He has been there during the most turbulent times of my life, and he has always delivered me safely to the other side of heartache and struggle.
My reasons for retiring Charlie are sound; I love my job and my life, and there will be other great cars in my future– but there will never be another little blue truck quite like Charlie. He is my friend, and I will miss him. Thanks for the ride, old pal.
“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
A small but amazing miracle happened in my life today: I successfully finished a plasma donation. I have donated once before, and that went off with only a minor hiccough, but today was different.
Everything started out well, and I felt sure I’d be off the bed and on the way home within forty minutes or so. I lay calmly in the bed, reading and squeezing a stress ball, occasionally breaking to check the little green light that indicated my blood was flowing quickly. All was well. After about ten minutes though, the light changed to yellow. I squeezed harder and faster, trying to force my blood quickly through my veins. This worked for awhile, but my hand quickly began to cramp from the effort. I silently said a little prayer for strength to continue rapidly.
Another 15 minutes went by, and the light started vacillating between yellow, where it had hovered, and red– indicating that there was zero blood flow. I tried to wave over a phlebotomist for help, but they all were busy, so I pumped my fist harder and faster yet, squeezing that ball within an inch of its life. Sweat dripped down my forehead, and I could feel my body temperature rising exponentially with each pump. My legs began to cramp, and I realized that I’d been tensing them anxiously… but I couldn’t get them to relax.
I prayed again, more urgently this time, calling on my Creator to strengthen my hand and thin my blood before I passed out. Just as I concluded my prayer, the draw cycle ended and the machine began to return my filtered blood back to me. That meant that I got to stop pumping for a bit, and as I watched the blood flow into my body, it was as though I was watching my strength return, drop by drop. I was renewed, and I sent up a prayer of thanks. After a short reprieve, the next draw cycle began, and I pumped vigorously… and was rewarded with the coveted green light! Huzzah!
Then, the worst happened. My hand, which had been cramping unceasingly, began to tremble and spasm in protest. I was unable to pump my fist at the same rate any longer, and my blood flow slowed and then stopped completely. By this time I had subconsciously equated the firm and rapid squeezing of the stress ball directly with the green light. Blood was rushing from my head and I found it difficult to think, and in my confused state I had to fight the urge to squeeze the ball with the other hand, having irrationally reasoned that I’d be able to squeeze the ball harder and thus regain green light status. I watched donors who had been behind me in line come and go, while still trying to politely ask for help and growing more and more frustrated and resentful as I was ignored.
Eventually, I caught the attention of another donor, who alerted a super-helpful phlebotomist to my plight. She hustled over and informed me that the filter was completely clogged, and that all the pumping I had been doing was not helping, and could have damaged my vein. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at her timely wisdom, and instead, I prayed. I felt prompted to ask for both patience and water, and as I slowly sipped, I felt strength and logic return.
I calmly asked her what could be done, and she decided to massage the filter manually, since I was almost done with my donation at this point. So I gathered my resolve and gave my hand a firm (but silent) talking-to, and off we went. Pump, massage, pump, massage, pump, massage…. it felt interminable, and it hurt like the dickens! It felt like I was trying to push cement through my veins, but eventually the machine let forth a heavenly BEEEEEEEP… and I was done. Almost.
The last phase of plasma donation is a final return of blood diluted with a saline solution to re-hydrate the body. The saline makes you feel cold, and I smiled as I started to shiver, anticipating my approaching freedom. But though I continued to get colder and colder, the blood flowed more and more slowly. This time the needle was clogged. I’d been in the bed for over an hour and a half at this point, and I wanted to cry. I asked them to just let me go without the final return, promising that I’d take things easy — but no dice. So again, I prayed.
Eventually, the three phlebotomists and one nurse who had surrounded me decided to give up on that vein and complete the return in my other arm, which apparently was a breach of protocol and required enough delay for the saline-induced cold to set my teeth chattering and extremities quaking. My toes went numb, but eventually the decision was made and approval had, and the needle went into my other arm. A mere five minutes later, the machine beeped again, and I was done. Finally, my ordeal was over, and I silently thanked my Father as I made my way home.
I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is infinitesimal. People die and get serious illnesses and face all kinds of challenges that make my measly blood flow problem seem completely ridiculous, and the multitude of times I prayed may seem frivolous. But I very much needed a reminder today that my Father loves me, and that even my insignificant problems matter to Him, and I got it.
A warm feeling filled my chest on the way home, chasing out the saline cold. It felt like an inside-out hug, and tears of joy filled my eyes as I remembered that His eye is on the sparrow, but it is also on me– every part of my existence… even my blood.
Just a heads-up, because I know you were all dying to know: from now on, the [somewhat] Daily Record will be replaced with a weekly update, because… let’s face it: my life is just not that interesting. 😉
And in other news, on our walk this morning, Ozzie and I noticed this sign:
Note: I started this post completely convinced that the internet screwed up my breakfast. Halfway through, I realized that it wasn’t the internet’s fault… but because this is one of those times that I’m unintentionally funny, I left the original post. My better-late-than-never realizations are in red.
I learned a very important lesson today: Sometimes it’s helpful to scour the internet for knowledge, and sometimes the internet ruins your pancakes. Other times, you begin writing about how the internet ruined your pancakes only to discover that YOU were the culprit all along!
I wanted pancakes this morning. Actually, I wanted waffles, but since my decrepit grease-trap of a waffle iron has been laid to rest (in the dumpster), I had to settle for pancakes. I gathered all of the ingredients to make pancakes from scratch, only to discover that I had no milk. But dang it, I really wanted pancakes!!
Desperate times call for desperately Googling, so I picked the internet’s brain for milk-less pancake recipes, and found this: 4 tsp. baking powder??? FOUR?! My drowsy brain thought maybe that was a mistake, but it’s been awhile since Googler the Great let me down, so I went with it. I laboriously stirred out all the lumps, and made my soon-to-be delicious pancakes one by one, since I was too lazy to climb the step stool and fetch the griddle. (This is where having Charming over for breakfast came in handy…)
Finally, I sat down, syrup in hand, and took a bite, only to spit out a disgusting, half-chewed wad of pancake into a napkin. Holy Arm and Hammer, Batman!! My pancakes tasted like litter box! (Before the cat has used it, when it’s just been coated with baking soda to keep the odor down. What do you think I do? Dig into the litter box for a fibrous snack? You’re gross!)Wait a minute… baking soda? SODA??? I just had to run to the kitchen to double-check, but yes. In my semi-conscious fog this morning, I used 4 tsp. baking soda instead of baking powder! Sheesh! This must be why people use pancake mix! (And read… people also read.)
I still think that 4 tsp. of baking powder is a lot, but who knows? Maybe it makes the fluffiest, most delectable milk-free pancakes in the world, unless you’re a speed-reading, pancake-ruining dork like myself. You’ll have to try it and see; I would, but I think I’m off pancakes for awhile. (Oz, on the other hand, LOVES baking soda pancakes, and would welcome more samples the next time I screw up!)
P.S.: If you want a good burp (or fifty), feel free to try some baking soda pancakes of your own– they work wonders!
… It makes the heart grow fonder. Supposedly. I guess Charming and I will find out, since he’s in Phoenix for the tail end of his summer break, and then he heads to Idaho to get his Bachelor’s at Brigham Young University Idaho. He’s excited, so I’m excited for him, but I miss having him in Yuma.
He keeps trying to convince me that he could pop back in any minute though, and he’s played that trick once already, so we’ll see.
It’ll be a good test for our relationship though. I’m crazy about this guy (can you tell), but I don’t want to rush into anything, because I try (and often fail) to learn from my mistakes. I’ll keep you posted, dear readers.
Charming and I are back in Yuma. Home, hot home! Huzzah! (Except now I have to unpack… I hate unpacking.)
We actually got back on Saturday, but I’ve been trying to get my bearings ever since. I’m a bit of a routine freak, and having my mom here and then traveling shot my routines to bits and pieces… so glad as I was to be back, my return sent me into a spiral of freshly tanned crazy. (Actually, I’m not that tan– Sierra Vista was rainy, since it’s monsoon season. More on that later.)
Ozzie was glad to see me. I know this because he took great care to lovingly layer every inch of my carpet with carefully placed, thoughtfully arranged fur. 😉
We had a great time, and one of these days I’ll actually get to blogging about my adventures, I promise. For now though, I’m trying to motivate myself to unpack. (Have I mentioned that I HATE unpacking??)