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Snow, ice, wind, and blood on Mailbox Peak
posted by John : March 26, 2016


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What a lovely trail


Mailbox was Mailbox yet again. I climbed Saturday instead of Sunday because Easter and weather made it a better plan. The trail was gnarly icy above the Green Gate requiring traction, but my problems began well below Hydration Rock.

You see, I had given two units of blood on Friday at noon. I just passed three gallons of total donations, mostly by donating "double reds" through the process of apheresis. Two pints of blood are taken out, the red blood cells are removed, and the leftovers are returned. I'm an O-, also known as the "universal donor," so donating two units of blood is even more important.

On the trail, it means my ability to get oxygen from my lungs to my muscles is decreased. How much? I tried to figure that out, but apparently I'm bad at math. Instead, I found tons of blog posts online that talk about how their performance suffered and how they won't be donating again any time soon.

To me, this is exactly the wrong lesson to learn. Our blood is so vital to our bodies that those of us that can produce healthy blood and can spare a couple of pints now and then owe it to our community. If it means I lose 30 minutes off my time up Mailbox Peak (it did) and I felt terrible (I did) and wanted to quit (I did) that's the sacrifice we make. The recipient of my blood needs it far more than I do.

I know from past experience that I will recover in a week or two in spite of the studies that show it will take about four weeks to completely refresh my red blood cells. I won't be at the same level I was on Thursday, but someone else will be able to benefit from my donation. I like to think every time I suffer the needle in the arm and an hour watching my blood flow into a machine I'm saving a life.

With all the blessings I have received in life I figure donating a couple of pints of blood every 16 weeks is about the minimum I can do. I think everyone should give blood as often as they can. When your times up a mountain or along the road suffer just think of the good you've done and I bet you'll smile in spite of your stopwatch.

If you're in the Pacific Northwest check out the donation programs at Bloodworks NW (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center). If you're somewhere else, use the American Red Cross blood donation search tools to find a blood center.

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