GR3: Step 2 in Donating Marrow

Be the Match packet

I received my packet from Be the Match today. Essentially this is Step 2 in the process of becoming a part of the Bone Marrow donor registry.

It took me all of 3 minutes to open it, read it, swab my inner cheeks, and place it all in the self-addressed stamped envelope.

Swabbing My Cheek

If you’re thinking about joining the registry, so far the process has been simple, straightforward and unobtrusive. I haven’t been swamped with emails asking for donations or anything else. It could be the most professional charity with which I’ve ever been involved.

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GR3: Donate Bone Marrow

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Im CommittedThe title of this resolution could be construed as somewhat deceptive since donating marrow is not like donating blood or sperm. With marrow donations you simply add yourself to the donor registry and if at some point in the future you are a match for a patient in need, then you will be called up to donate. It’s similar to registering for the draft or to be an organ donor. None are painful when you fill out the paperwork, but all require significant consideration before making such a serious commitment.

“If you match a patient, your commitment to donate is very important, but you have the right to change your mind. However, a late decision to not donate can be life-threatening to a patient. Please think seriously about your commitment before joining the registry.” – BeTheMatch.org

I mentioned that I was going to donate bone marrow to a friend and they said I was crazy. “I hear it’s incredibly painful,” was the reason they gave for avoiding it. Thing is, I’ll bet it’s even more painful for the patient who needs my marrow, but can’t find a donor. How painful must it be for the father of a 16 or 18 year old, like me, to know that their son or daughter has a life threatening disease and there isn’t a thing they can do about it? Could I face that man, hear his plea for my help and say, “I’m sorry I can’t save your child, Bud. They say donating could hurt for a few days.” I couldn’t, could you?

 

Today, I took the first step by registering online. Some time in the next 2 weeks I will be receiving a packet in the mail which requires me to take a few swabs from the inside of my mouth for them to analyze. Once it’s returned I am officially in the registry.

Step 1: Register

Join the registry


GR2: Mission Accomplished

She came into our lives only a few days ago, but she will forever be a part of all us in this house. Sugar, a beautiful 10 week old white Boxer mix, came to us after being taken from a negligent home where she was malnourished, infested with fleas and riddled with worms. Her 5 sisters and she were due to be euthanized in Camarillo when DAWG SB, a no-kill shelter, stepped in and rescued them all. A friend of Barbara’s forwarded her a plea she’d seen on Facebook asking for people to foster the puppies. Barbara asked, “Would this satisfy your giving resolution?”

The Giving Resolutions, defined as doing charitable things that don’t involve writing a check, were intended to “inspire others and myself to be more caring and considerate by gaining a new perspective. It’s an attempt to pierce the bubble of my world.” Sugar, her sisters, the other foster parents, DAWG volunteers, my family, my Facebook friends & their friends, and Ulyana & her family all played a role in helping me do exactly that.

In just a couple of days we rid Sugar of the fleas, fattened her up a bit, finished with the worms, taught her a few tricks and gave her enough love to make sure that all of that bad stuff would be nothing but a distant memory as she goes off to live on a big property with a family that is excited to pick up where we left off.

I’m not going lie, it was hard to say goodbye, and my son requested that I keep him out of future giving resolutions that involve fostering, because saying goodbye was just too hard on him. We’ll miss you Sugar!

Sugar with Me

Me and Sugar

Sugar with Barb

Sugar with Barb

Masie and Sugar

Masie and Sugar

Jackson and Sugar

Jackson and Sugar

SugarSugar

GR2: Sugar Needs a Home

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As much as I keep reminding myself not to get attached, it’s hard not to. Sugar is such a sweet girl and so smart. In no time at all she has learned to respond to her name and a brief, distinct whistle. She’s so easy to potty train and gets along with everyone in the family, especially Stella!, our 95 pound Italiano Spinone.

I won’t deny it’s hard work training a new puppy, especially knowing I won’t be reaping the benefits. The 1am walks, the weaning away from her mom and sisters, it’s a traumatic time for a puppy and the hardest few days of owning a dog. At 1:30 am this morning, with Sugar sighing loudly in her sleep next to me and me expressing my frustration with not finding her a home, Barb asked me if I was sorry I took on the task. Truth is, I’m not.

This is precisely what I was looking for when I made the Giving Resolution. Writing a check to the shelter would have been much easier, but this experience has already changed me and given me a new perspective. I got a glimpse into the lives of shelter workers and discovered a whole group of people I didn’t even know existed, the fosters. One woman I met has fostered and found homes for 35 puppies who had been sentenced to death.

When I see Sugar running around playing with Stella, I think to myself, “I did that.” She was slated to be put down 3 days ago, when I and 3 other volunteers plus the DAWG shelter rescued her whole family. I can’t save every dog and may never foster again, but the experience, and Sugar, have enriched my life. I think it’s made me a better person already.

PS Please help Sugar find a loving home. She is a 10 week old boxer / pitty mix. Send me a message, share a link to this blog, and/or join her “Sugar Needs a Home” facebook page. Even if you’re halfway around the world from Santa Barbara, it can help. Think six degrees of separation.

GR2: Foster the Puppy

Pitty Boxer mix

Take me home!

Today we picked up an 8 week old pitty boxer puppy we have named “Sugar”. (Isn’t that what all boxers go by?) Sugar is part of a litter that was recently rescued from a neglectful home with her 5 sisters and parents. She’ll be staying with us until either we or Dawg can find her a permanent home. She has such a sweet temperament and quickly settled in with Stella, Sadie and the kids.

If you know anyone looking for a cute, well behaved puppy like Sugar, please contact me. By the time she leaves us she will be house broken, well trained and socialized.

How can you resist that face?

Please adopt me!

Giving Resolution 2(b): Donate Sperm – REJECTED!

 

I’m starting to get a complex. It seems no one, not even those begging for donors, want anything I have to offer. The Blood Bank turned me away because I’d been to Haiti on vacation and now the Sperm Bank rejects me because I’m too old. WTF?!? Tony Randall has a kid at 78, but my sperm is inferior because I’m over 38?

They say the problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard, but they’re wrong. As infertility becomes more common and gay marriage finally becomes a norm, the sperm banks are quickly becoming the gene pool’s self-designated lifeguards. But are they qualified?So who do you want propagating the species, 37 year old guys who need to sell their sperm for cash or a 44 year old, health conscious, fit, blue-eyed, six foot tall, 175 pound, employed, caring father, without a criminal record, NYU MBA with a zest for life?

This giving resolution is harder than I thought. No wonder most people just write checks.

GR1: Building Homes

It begins with what is supposed to be a 550 mile drive from Santa Barbara to Tonto National Forest in Arizona, but thanks to errant directions from the GPS it’s now an 850 mile drive with a detour through Tucson. I’m making great time and around 8:00pm with just 15 miles from where I think I am stopping for the night, I have a casual dinner at Swenson’s. Minutes later I realize I’ve made a horrible mistake, having driven 150 miles out of the way. I reverse course and get back to where I should have turned off originally, but now it’s almost midnight. Exhausted, I give up on getting to the campsite tonight and with the help of the “Around Me” app on my iPhone, find a Comfort Inn with availability for the night.

Duffy at the front desk informs me that not only is his hotel full, but all hotels in the area are booked thanks the Barrett-Jackson car auction being in town. He calls around as a favor to me, but to no avail. I ask what’s up the road from here, thinking I can make it a little further to the next town, but find out there is nothing between here and the campsite except cacti and dirt, with the campsite being another 100 miles into the middle of nowhere. I let my wife know that I have no other option but to drive on into the night. “I wish I drank coffee,” I say to her. She suggests I drink some soda at least for a caffeine pick-me-up. I guzzle two bottles of Mountain Dew for maximum caffeinage before getting a follow up call from her saying she found me a room at the local Holiday Inn. I lie in bed until 2am hopped up on caffeine, with my alarm set for a 6am wake up.

Tonto National Forest

Tonto National Forest

The drive into Tonto National Park at Sunrise with “La Grange” by ZZ Top blasting on the radio and passing places like Whiskey Springs and Kitty Joe Creek is manna for anyone who loves the Old West.

It’s 8am when I arrive at the Grapevine Group Site on Roosevelt Lake in Tonto National Forest. I’m the first to arrive, or so I thought. Turns out the rest of the tent assemblers arrived at 2am and were sleeping in their RVs nearby.

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake

Four adults and three kids, we erect nearly 50 tents for the 160+ other volunteers who will be arriving around 2am tonight. It is exhausting work, with many of the tents incomplete, broken or lacking instructions, but we get it done. I installed my slackline in a perfect spot away from the many spiky cacti.

Tent City

Tent City

The kids arrive in the dark after a 10 hour drive, exhausted and cranky. Seven hours until breakfast and the 30 minute drive to Apache Nation.

We are broken up into 7 groups of 24 kids and 3 adult supervisors. Each group is shuttled to a different work site, each building a different family a new home. Upon arrival, our site has nothing but a few stakes in the ground and some string hanging between them to mark to outline of the home’s foundation.

The adults, all construction professionals except me, go through the plans and begin to dole out tasks for the kids. Over the coming days we will lay the foundation and install the underground plumbing.

Framing the Foundation

Framing the Foundation

Around midnight, after our first full day of work on the sites, our makeshift tent city is punished by gale force winds knocking down half the tents on the kids, snapping tent poles and shredding two beyond repair. I spend Day 2 back at the campsite reassembling tents, duct taping poles and canvas, and generally attempting to bring order back for the kids, so they’ll have a place to rest their weary heads.

The organizer of this effort is Amor Ministries (www.amor.org) and its founders Gayla and Scott Congdon are an inspiration to me. After witnessing poverty on college junkets, these two have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others. They’ve built thousands of homes for the needy in Mexico and are now committed to building 1600 homes for the Apaches of Arizona. What I came away with is not so much a dedication to this particular cause, but to the simple idea that individuals can make a big difference. You just have to make the effort and be committed.

Giving Resolution #2 REJECTION!

Duneier in Haiti

Labadee, Haiti

I went to the donor bank with the best of intentions. I answered all the probing questions, had my blood pressure taken, got my finger pricked and temperature taken. Then with the answer to the most innocuous question of all, I was summarily rejected. Have you been out of the country in the past 12 months? “Yes, I was on a cruise that went to Jamaica, Mexico and Haiti,” I answered. “Thank you and have a nice day,” she said. Turns out Haiti is a Malaria risk and as such, if you’ve been there in the past 12 months, by federal law you cannot donate blood. Bummer!

Giving Resolution #2: Donate Blood

I was watching an episode of Breaking Bad recently where one of the main characters, a police officer, is lying in the hospital after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. In one of the scenes the camera shot sweeps across all these chairs where other cops are all donating blood to help their comrade in arms. My first thought was the one they had hoped to evoke, “wow, a brotherhood of men and women who all come together to support their fellow officers in a time of need.” Then I thought about how the rest of the hospital is filled with other people who may be in similar need of that same blood, yet no mob of supporters had appeared for any of them. I wondered, “Why hadn’t those police officers been showing up regularly to donate for all their fellow man? ” Actually, why was I picking on the police? Who was I to be critical of anyone, after all, I’ve never donated blood. Period.

Today I rectify that error.

GR1: Build Homes

My 1st entry into the “Giving” category of this year’s resolutions will come in 2 weeks, when I travel to the Apache Nation in San Carlos, Arizona to help build homes for families in need. I will be accompanied by Jackson and a group of students and faculty from Santa Barbara High’s MAD Academy.

Duneier in Arizona

I’ll head out a day ahead to help set things up and then spend a week camping out under the stars and swinging a hammer 14 hours a day. I’ve wanted to do a project like this for a long time and so really looking forward to the experience (and the drive out there, top down, doors off in the Jeep).