Friday, July 31, 2009

Why I am here

One year ago, I was in the hospital, slowly dying. I had plans at that time to return to Spain to finish the Camino, but God had other plans. With the help of my excellent doctors, the nurses & staff of Doctors Hospital, my friends & family, & of course, God, I recovered, but not after needing at least 15 pints of blood to keep my body going. Every day since, I have asked God to bless those 15 people & their families.

On the day that I was readmitted to the hospital, I was told my hemoglobin count was dangerously low. In fact, everyone was amazed that I was still walking, although I couldn't walk very far. I was told the transfusions were on their way, but from past experience, I knew they'd have to come from San Antonio & the earliest time they'd show up was about 12 hours. So I just lay back on the bed, closed my eyes, & prepared for the end. I was sad at the thought of leaving all my friends & family behind, & my pets, but one of the things I was most sad about was not getting the chance to finish walking the Camino Frances in Spain. At that point, I prayed that if somehow I got out of this mess alive, I would walk the Camino from St. Jean Pied du Port all the way to Santiago, & do my best to raise 1 pint of blood for every kilometer I walked. Amazingly soon after that (I think), the nurse came in with 2 pints & from that point on I was on my way back to good health.

I posted about this on my other blog, as well as the Pilgrimage to Santiago forum, and even though I was a year away from walking the camino, 5 people let me know they went to donate blood. Great! I only need 745 more to reach my goal!

So, here's the deal, McNeil: If you are able to donate blood, please go to your nearest donation center & donate a pint of blood. You have no idea what this small task means to the person who gets it, or their friends & family. Once you've donated, come back here & leave me a comment. It doesn't matter where you live, if there is a donation center or blood drive near you, just go & donate there. You are on the honor system.

If you are unable to donate blood, please consider doing some other thing for your community or making a donation to a charity you believe in & post it here.

I have my plane tickets now & my plan is to start from St. Jean Pied du Port, France on September 1, 2009. I estimate it will take approximately 34 days for me to reach Santiago de Compostela. I'll be checking in along the way to let you know how I am doing & promise to keep my comments as "kid friendly" as possible.